If we listen to the story of all the Centenarians around the world, we will never hear about a magic potion they have taken to reach the longevity.
Everyone of them had a simple life, but rich in social relationships; they spent their life facing a lot of difficulties, but never alone and with the smile on their face; they followed an healthy diet, rich in natural food taken from what the heart can offer to them, and they practiced fasting; they were always active, spending most of the day working the land, raising their animals or taking care of the family. We can say a simple life, but this is the real secret of what we are looking for, everyday… live longer and healthier!
Nowadays the science world has increased its interest in Longevity, trying to find the genetic and environmental factors that influence this important process.
How can we define this concept?
Longevity is strictly related to healthspan, that is the period of life we spend healthy; we can live many years, but it is important to spend them in good health so to achieve a successful aging and enjoy our life until the end.
In the last decades it is not so easy to achieve this goal, as we are always in a hurry or too sedentary, we rarely pay attention to what we eat and, unfortunately, we spent a lot of time being worried, sad, or stressed. In this light it is clear to understand the great distance from a lifestyle that allows us to live better.
All these environmental factors, in addition to smoke, alcohol consumption and pollution, are responsible of a chronic inflammation that involves every part of our organism and put us at risk of developing the so called Non-Communicable Diseases and, consequently, a premature aging.
Aging is a biological and natural process caused by the progressive accumulation over time of morphological, cellular, and molecular, but also social and psychological, modifications. Anyway, this process become pathological if we increase the level of stress: we will assist to a faster decline of several biological functions, due to a higher and constant stress response to the different environmental factors.
Oxidative stress increases and our cells become less efficient in repairing DNA damage, which predisposes to apoptosis, senescence, and inflammation.
So, it is important to understand the genetic basis of this critical process and the eating model that can oppose it, so to promote Longevity. In the Longevity Institute of USC, Professor Valter Longo and his team has been studying for a long time all the mechanisms that characterize this process, to find a possible solution to slow its evolution.
In the first preclinical studies, made on animal models, they found the three main actor of a premature aging, that is mTOR, IGF-1 and PKA. If we inhibit the expression of these factors, it is possible to reduce oxidative stress and to increase DNA repair, so slowing the aging process. In addition to this, another important process is promoted, fundamental to reach longevity: autophagy, a cytoplasmic recycling mechanism, which counteracts the accumulation of damaged organelles and proteins.
How can we promote this?
The most powerful nutritional intervention is fasting, as Centenarians teach us. By restricting calories and specific nutrients, in particular simple carbohydrates and protein, we can slow aging and act against all the bad consequences related to this process. So, calorie restriction can be seen as a mild stress that helps the body to adapt and achieve a greater resistance to face gradually more stressful factors.
The Team has studied, in particular, a diet that mimics a state of fasting, of 4 days in mice and 5 days in humans, with encouraging results:
- in mice it promoted a multi-system regeneration;
- lowered visceral fat;
- lowered IGF-1 levels and PKA activity;
- rejuvenated the immune system;
- reduced skin lesions;
- enhanced healthspan and cognitive performance;
- in humans it has shown to reduce significantly all those risk factors and biomarkers related to aging-related diseases, such as BMI, blood pressure, body fat and IGF-1.
This Fasting Mimicking Diet provides all the macro and micronutrients necessary to keep our body well nourished, while inducing the cellular, metabolic, and emotional benefits of a fast. In the light of this encouraging results, the scientific research behind FMD is still ongoing, in different medical and nutritional fields, with the hope of using this original diet to promote healthspan and pursue Longevity for every one of us.