Longo and Anderson reviewed hundreds of studies on nutrition, diseases and longevity in laboratory animals and humans and combined them with their own studies on nutrients and aging. The analysis included popular diets such as the restriction of total calories, the high-fat and low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet, vegetarian and vegan diets, and the Mediterranean diet.
The article also included a review of different forms of fasting, including a short-term diet that mimics the body’s fasting response, intermittent fasting (frequent and short-term) and periodic fasting (two or more days of fasting or fasting-mimicking diets more than twice a month). In addition to examining lifespan data from epidemiological studies, the team linked these studies to specific dietary factors affecting several longevity-regulating genetic pathways shared by animals and humans that also affect markers for disease risk, including levels of insulin, C-reactive protein, insulin-like growth factor 1, and cholesterol.
The authors report that the key characteristics of the optimal diet appear to be moderate to high carbohydrate intake from non-refined sources, low but sufficient protein from largely plant-based sources, and enough plant-based fats to provide about 30 percent of energy needs. Ideally, the day’s meals would all occur within a window of 11-12 hours, allowing for a daily period of fasting, and a 5-day cycle of a fasting or fasting-mimicking diet every 3-4 months may also help reduce insulin resistance, blood pressure and other risk factors for individuals with increased disease risks, Longo added.
He described what eating for longevity could look like in real life: “Lots of legumes, whole grains, and vegetables; some fish; no red meat or processed meat and very low white meat; low sugar and refined grains; good levels of nuts and olive oil, and some dark chocolate.”-“‘Longevity diet’ characteristics: What (and when) to eat for a long life.” University of Southern California. April 28, 2022.
This is a summary of the paper linked in the quote above. If you prefer bullet points:
- Reduce weight and keep body mass index near 22, see BMI calculator.
- Eat non-refined complex carbs (45-60%), plant protein (10-15%), and fats (25-35%). Mostly whole grains, legumes (fruits inside a pod), and nuts. Include some fish, but keep meat to a minimum.
- Stop eating 3 hours before sleeping at night and fast for at least 12 hours.
- Quarterly, high fat diet for 5 days.
- Limit alcohol intake.
If you want more detail, the author Valter D. Longo has a book, “The Longevity Diet: Slow Aging, Fight Disease, Optimize Weight.”