A bowl of brightly coloured vegetables with avocado and chickpeas

The creator of the “longevity” diet plans to live to 120 years. So how does it work ?

You may have heard of the Longevity Diet and its promise of an extended lifespan – but what exactly is it and is it different from other diets promoting good health?

The Longevity Diet is a set of dietary recommendations compiled by a biochemist called Valter Longo, director of the University of Southern California’s Longevity Institute. He is known for his research on the role of fasting, the effects of nutrients on your genes, and their impact on aging and disease risk.

Although the Longevity Diet has been targeted at older people, it is also recommended for younger people. Longo said he plans to live to be 120 on this diet.

So what does the diet look like?

Foods on this diet are vegetables, including leafy greens, fruits, nuts, beans, olive oil, and low-mercury seafood.

Thus, most foods in the Longevity Diet are plant-based. Plant-based diets are generally higher in vitamins and minerals, dietary fiber, antioxidants, and lower in saturated fat and salt, all of which have health benefits.

Foods not recommended are excess meat and dairy products, as well as those high in processed sugar and saturated fat.

For people who don’t want to go dairy-free, the Longevity Diet recommends switching from cow’s milk to goat’s or sheep’s milk, which have a slightly different nutrient profile. But there’s little evidence that sheep’s and goat’s milk offer more health benefits.

Including fermented dairy products (like cheese and yogurt) in your diet, as recommended in the Longevity Diet, is beneficial because it provides a more extensive microbiome (good bacteria) than any milk.

The diet recommends people maintain a healthy weight, perhaps by reducing snacking, especially foods high in saturated fat, salt or sugar.(Pexels: Andrés Ayrton)

Have you seen this diet before?

Many of you may recognize this as a familiar diet. It is similar to the Mediterranean diet, especially since both contain olive oil as the oil of choice. The Mediterranean diet is promoted and supported by a considerable body of evidence to promote health, reduce the risk of disease and promote longevity.

The Longevity Diet is also similar to many evidence-based national dietary guidelines, including Australia’s.

Two-thirds of the foods recommended in the Australian Dietary Guidelines come from foods of plant origin (cereals, cereals, pulses, beans, fruits, vegetables). The guidelines also offer plant-based alternatives for proteins (such as dried beans, lentils and tofu) and dairy products (such as soy milks, yogurts and cheeses, as long as they are supplemented with calcium).

Intermittent fasting

Another aspect of the Longevity Diet is specified fasting periods, known as intermittent fasting. The diet advocates eating within 12 hours and not eating for three to four hours before bedtime.

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