You’ve probably heard about intermittent fasting, where you don’t eat for about 16 hours each day and limit the window where you’re taking in food to the remaining 8 hours.
But there’s another type of fasting, called fasting-mimicking diet, with studies pointing to important benefits for health and longevity. For today’s episode, I chatted with Dr. Valter Longo, a biogerontologist at the University of Southern California about all kinds of fasting, and particularly the fasting-mimicking diet, and strategies for making these approaches especially beneficial while minimizing really bad hunger as much as possible.
If you’ve ever spent more than a few minutes looking into fasting, you’ve almost certainly come upon the name Valter Longo. Dr. Longo is the author of the bestselling book, The Longevity Diet, and he is the best known researcher of how to do a fasting-mimicking diet, as well as researching the benefits.
A quick primer is helpful background for listening to this episode: with intermittent fasting, your body might begin to switch up its fuel type. Your body’s usually running on carbs you get from food, which gets turned into glucose, but without food, your liver starts making something called ketones, which are these molecules that are more efficient than glucose and good for the body in various other ways.
But in addition to intermittent fasting, there’s an alternative that could offer more benefits to your health and boost your longevity. This is the fasting-mimicking diet, the one researched by Dr. Longo, where you go for several days eating only the types of food that, in a way, keep themselves secret from your body. So at the level of your cells, the body still thinks that it’s fasting. This is the best of both worlds – you’re not completely starving because you do get to have some food, and you’re getting some of the amazing benefits that come with letting a fast run longer than you’d have with intermittent fasting.
This episode really explores the science of fasting. Dr. Longo talks about his extensive research on why this might be one of the best things you can do for health. He’s the director of the Longevity Institute in USC’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, and the director of the Longevity and Cancer program at the IFOM Institute of Molecular Oncology in Milan. In addition, Dr. Longo is the founder and president of the Create Cures Foundation in L.A., which focuses on nutrition for the prevention and treatment of major chronic illnesses. He authored the bestelling book, The Longevity Diet. v2 In 2016, he received the Glenn Award for Research on Aging, which was based on the discovery of both genes and dietary interventions able to regulate aging and prevent diseases, among many other awards. Dr. Longo received his PhD in biochemistry from UCLA and completed his postdoc in the neurobiology of aging and Alzheimer’s at USC.
Check out the episode page to see the show links - www.leaps.org/heart-healthy-diet/
Making Sense of Science features interviews with leading medical and scientific experts about the latest developments in health innovation and the big ethical and social questions they raise. The podcast is hosted by science journalist Matt Fuchs