Valter Longo is a Professor at the University of Southern California Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. I have been following his studies for several years. It is why I fast (no calories) 72 to 120 hours every month. I do it to strengthen my immune system and to improve my lifespan and reduce the risk of age-related diseases.
Look Better & Feel Better
I notice the differences in my feelings before, during, and after fasting. I noticed that my habits of wanting to eat at certain times are stronger when not fasting. I smell foods from various restaurants and immediately think of eating that kind of food. When fasting, I smell the same foods and enjoy the aroma without the need to eat. I see the clock and recognize that hours have passed since I would have eaten, and I have no desire to eat. I feel great, sleep well, and enjoy life better when fasting.
Fasting, for me, is the avoidance of all calories (as many as possible). I drink filtered water and unsweetened iced tea. Some will argue that unsweetened tea has calories. I cannot argue. https://www.fatsecret.com/calories-nutrition/generic/tea-unsweetened.
However, sipping two calories over the course of an hour will not interrupt my fasting, nor will it cause a metabolic response to the calorie or two that I have imbibed. Most of the time I drink filtered water. A slice or wedge of lime or lemon will add approximately 2-3 calories. Sipped over time those calories will not cause a metabolic response that will affect the integrity of my fasting.
Types of Fasts
There are many kinds of fasts. Allow me to cover just a few. Intermittent Fasting (IF) is eating within certain hours daily. A person may only eat between noon and six pm. That is a six-hour window for eating and an eighteen-hour window for fasting. Doing this daily infers that the person is on an IF diet, fast, or lifestyle. I live on this type of eating plan most of the time. There is nothing hard and fast about the times – generally once or twice within a short period of time daily.
Time-Restricted Feeding (TRF) is slightly different than IF. Eating is restricted to specific hours each day – for example, between 9 am and 3 pm. Alternate Day Fasting (ADF) means that you eat every other day. You eat nothing on one day and then have no restrictions on the types or amounts of food on the next day. An Alternate-Day Modified Fasting (ADMF) modifies the ‘no food’ day to that of eating significantly less food rather than no food. The next day is unrestricted eating.
Periodic Fasting (PF) and sometimes called Extended Fasting (EF) means that no food is eaten for one or more days in a row during a week and then eating normally for the rest of the week. I do an extended fast every month of 72 hours most of the time and lately 120 hours or more. I have been doing a 72-hour-fast monthly for over two years. I started 120-hour-fast about five months ago. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5783752/
(CR) calorie or caloric restriction means eating about 30% fewer calories than nutritionists recommended to maintain a healthy weight. We are told to eat 15 calories per pound of body weight to maintain that specific weight. 1500 calories should maintain a weight of 100 pounds. Eat less and you should lose weight. Eat more and you should gain weight.
Animal studies routinely show that CR reduces overall body weight and extends healthy lifespans. Short-term CR (up to six months) has improved cardiovascular risk factors. Insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial function are improved. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5783752/
To maintain a healthy life when restricting calories, care must be taken to ensure that the nutrition choices you make are balanced. Otherwise, you are depriving yourself of required vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients needed by your body daily.
When I was on the Atkins Diet for about six years, I chose to eat protein and fat and no carbohydrates or vegetables. I ended up in a condition called acidosis that leeched calcium from my bones. Had I chosen to eat vegetables and fruits while on Atkins, I would not have entered the acidosis world.
One of the experiments that Dr. Longo did was with yeast cells. When these cells were starved (think CR or EF), the cells lived longer, and are not affected by stress compared to neighboring yeast cells living a normal life. CR is not the answer alone. Balanced nutrition avoids the nutrient deficiency conditions that plague many of us. https://gero.usc.edu/2019/04/18/eat-less-live-longer-the-science-of-fasting-and-longevity/
In 2008, Dr. Longo discovered that two-day-fast protected healthy cells against chemotherapy while allowing chemo treatment to attack the cancer cells. This type of treatment – combining extended fasting with chemotherapy – is becoming more mainstream because it is effective.
A fasting-mimicking-diet (FMD) protocol was established to allow patients to eat while on chemotherapy and still provide the same protections as being on a total (no calorie) fast. Since the discovery of FMD, studies have shown reductions in the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other age-related diseases in both animals and men.
Fighting the aging process is not simply a matter of looking younger on the outside. The inside must be fully functional and healthy as well. I chose the 72-hour-fast to rebuild my immune system from scratch each month. With the COVID-vacation that I was forced into several months ago, I know my immune function is as good as it can be.
I changed over to extending the 72 hours of fasting each month to 120 hours to rebuild my pancreas. Just as the immune system rids itself of non-functioning cells (DNA and more), the pancreas rebalances itself with fully functioning beta cells.
Many people fast, but not eating is not always a healthy fast. Choosing the right foods to eat when eating is critical to maintaining a healthy life. Food choices, exercise, stress management, pH, and more are required for a healthy, long life.
Life Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com