In this episode of Bulletproof Radio, I’m talking with a godfather of fasting, Professor Valter Longo, Ph.D. He started researching fasting decades before anyone else started paying much attention to it. In 2018, TIME Magazine named Prof. Longo as one of the 50 most influential people in health care for his research on fasting-mimicking diets as a way to improve health and prevent disease.
He’s director of the Longevity Institute at University of Southern California-Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, Los Angeles, and director of the Longevity and Cancer Program at the Italian Foundation of Cancer Research.
“Fasting really in my mind is probably the most powerful way to reset and help regenerate, but also help clear junk and damage that is accumulated,” Prof. Longo says.
Our conversation hits the high points of how and why to fast, and also goes into the research that got us to what we know today and looks at what’s next. We talk about everything from Prof. Longo’s foundational research on yeast to the possibility of having future technology that tells us how to fast based on certain blood markers or gut bacteria.
He’s also focused his work on the nutrients present in the fats, proteins and carbs we choose to consume during our fasts.
“Without understanding how nutrients such as proteins and sugars affect cellular function, aging and aging damage, and regeneration, it’s difficult to determine the type and quantity of nutrients for optimal longevity,” Prof. Longo says in his book, “The Longevity Diet: Discover the New Science Behind Stem Cell Activation and Regeneration to Slow Aging, Fight Disease, and Optimize Weight.”
Beyond fasting, Prof. Longo created five pillars of longevity related to nutrition and human biology: juventology (the study of youth), epidemiology, clinical studies, centenarian studies, and the study of complex systems.
We also discuss bigger philosophical questions and the ethics surrounding longevity. What would it mean to try and live forever? And what does longevity mean in the face of advancing technology that may boost our life span by 50 to 100 years?
“I think technology is going to take over in the next 50 years and I think bionics is going to take over in the next 50 years,” Prof. Longo says. “It’s going to be a very different world; it’s going to be a very different approach. And it’s going to be an approach that has to do much more with memory and memory transfer, and all kinds of crazy things.”
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Book: “The Longevity Diet: Discover the New Science Behind Stem Cell Activation and Regeneration to Slow Aging, Fight Disease, and Optimize Weight”
- Named by Time in 2018 as one of the 50 most influential people in healthcare for his research on fasting mimicking diets, as a way to improve health and prevent disease. – 1:04
- Roy Walford back in the days in the early `90s, he was basically doing the first human calorie restriction experiment, and he was a pathologist, a medical doctor at UCLA. – 2:08
- I always start by saying fasting doesn’t mean anything, fasting is like saying, eating. How often do you eat? So I think the answer is every day. So every day I do about 12 hours of fasting and 12 hours of feeding. – 4:50
- In my book, I always talk about a five pillar approach. – 9:08
- That’s the type of thinking that we try to put together to then come up with, what’s very safe for people? And at the same time can make them live to 110 healthy. – 13:38
- What did you learn from yeast that translated best into human aging in your labs? – 16:30
- Low protein was better up to a certain age, but not after 65, then after 65, the moderate protein intake was better. – 21:50
- Most of them seem to have a genetic component. So they have the right diet, but they also genetically predisposed to get to a very long lifespan. – 24:10
- If you put on your hat 100 years from now, how old do you think the oldest person on earth will be? – 26:05
- So that’s what I’m worried about. Our inability for the first time in history to control where it goes. Not so much what we can do with it, but are we going to be in control of it? And that’s the scary part. – 30:11
- If we have people who are, “Hey we’ve seen this three times before, it’s all right, here’s how we’re going to navigate it.” It feels like we could actually do a better job as a species. – 34:51
- We’re starting to work with the health insurance companies in looking at, instead of reimbursing whatever problem disease cost somebody has, can we avoid that? Can we think about getting to 100 healthy or 110 healthy? And in the past surprisingly, it wasn’t like that. – 37:12
- What has come out of your science that tells us different carbs do different things and things like that? – 40:26
- Yeah, so this systems biology approach is really fundamental. If we don’t use it, then we’re just going to be lost. – 42:23
- The sugar pathway and the protein amino acid pathway. I think there’s a lot of potential, we just have to wait and see. And I think Nir is doing it the right way, basically saying, there’s enough data suggesting that this could be benefiting people. – 46:05
- Whether it’s rapamycin targeting our own pathway or Metformin. I always was very scared about intervention at the core of life. – 48:53
- The car analogy is really fitting. If you look back at the history of hacking, some of the first modern day hackers were people who would build hot rods. – 52:52
- Imagine if we had to repair a cat with technology, then you have to bring in stem cells and you have to bring in epithelial cells, et cetera, et cetera. Instead of letting the body fix its cell. – 54:38
- Our goal, whether a dietician, or nutritionist, or a physician is, I’m not treating you for what you have today, I’m treating you to make sure I optimize your chances to make it to 110 healthy. – 01:01:13
- Have you looked at using alpha keto-glutarate AKG with vitamin C, with yeast longevity? – 01:03:03
- I take two supplements. And one is a multivitamin, and I take it every, maybe three days or so. And the idea is to plug holes. – 01:07:11
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