The Longevity Diet: Notes From The Book

Here are some key things I learned from Dr. Valter Longo’s book, The Longevity Diet

  • Aging is the main risk factor for many diseases. And the risk increases exponentially the older we get. Another major factor is genetics. For example, having just one parent who lives past age 87 reduces your chances of getting cancer by 24%. And sons of people who live to 100 or longer are 50% less likely to develop hypertension, stroke and seizure, heart disease, and diabetes.
  • Ideally, drugs and more aggressive treatments should be used only when natural interventions aren’t enough. Natural interventions are the result of billions of years of evolution, and in many cases can be highly coordinated and minimize or eliminate side effects. Drugs and other therapies will have side effects, some of which won’t be detected until years after the beginning of the treatment. For example, taking statin drugs for reducing cholesterol doesn’t change one’s overall risk of dying. Statin drugs reduce cholesterol, but create other problems.

Protein and Growth Hormone

  • High protein intake activates the growth hormone receptor, which then increases the levels of insulin and something called IGF-1. Increased levels of insulin is associated with diabetes, and increased levels of IGF-1 is associated with cancer. Proteins and certain amino acids can also activate a set of genes called TOR-S6K, which accelerate aging. Plant-based proteins, are safer than animal proteins, but high levels still present a risk-factor.
  • Daily protein intake should not exceed 0.33 grams per pound of body weight. If the person is overweight, it should be less. Even for weightlifters, daily protein intake of more than 0.33 grams per pound of body weight is not likely to significantly increase muscle growth.
  • Consuming 30 grams of protein in a single low-carb meal optimizes muscle synthesis. For best results, the 30 grams of proteins should be consumed 1 to 2 hours after resistance training. Ideal muscle synthesis occurs when the weight being lifted or pushed is 60% to 75% of the individual’s maximum capacity.
  • The benefits of a low protein diet seem to apply only before age 65 to 70. After age 65 or 70, protein should be increased by 10% to 20%, gradually (as long as the amount wasn’t too high to begin with). This is to prevent frailty.


  • Another gene that appears to play a key role in aging is called PKA. It is activated by sugars. High sugar levels make cells more vulnerable to damage.
  • Sugars are the most important nutrient for the human body. It’s the central source of energy. The problem is the intake of excessive quantities of sugar, in combination with proteins and certain types of fats (trans fat and saturated animal fat).


  • The total number of hours that food is consumed in a day and when it is eaten will affect risk factors for disease as well as sleep patterns.
  • Restricting food intake to an eleven to twelve hour window every day is often observed in very long-live populations.
  • Experiments on mice with cancer have shown that a water only diet for two or three days before chemo treatment can protect normal cells and organs while making the therapy more toxic to cancer cells.

Food Intolerance

  • Eating the same foods that your parents, grandparents and great grandparents ate could help prevent autoimmune diseases and certain food intolerance.


  • A major study involving over 200,000 people ages 45 to 75 for 8-years found that more than 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous exercise resulted in a 47% reduction in mortality. And for 300 minutes per week it was 54% (only slightly better than 150 minutes).

Body Weight

  • Cycles of major weight loss followed by major weight gain can increase cardiovascular disease.
  • The risk of developing diabetes increases exponentially the more over-weight a person is. For example a 5’5″ tall women weighing 154 pounds is 6-times more at risk than she would be at 130 pounds. Another way to asses risk for diabetes is by measuring waist circumference.

P.S. I also mentioned Longo in A Beginners Guide To Living Longer and Healthier.