One of the well-established findings in longevity research is that caloric restriction (CR) leads to increased longevity in every animal model, and there is significant evidence CR also improves human longevity.
In other words, in rough terms, consuming 30% fewer calories leads to something like a 30% increase in lifespan.
An interesting finding, but few of us would sign up for that kind of regimen, going a lifetime with reduced calories.
The good news, however, is that you don’t have to do CR for your whole life in order to get most of the benefits: periodic fasting does almost as well as chronic CR.
USC Professor Valter Longo, Ph.D. has gone one step further, developing what he calls a Fasting-Mimicking Diet (FMD) that he says gets the benefit of fasting while still having some food each day. He describes the connection between fasting and longevity in this TEDxTalk from 2016:
Dr. Longo is the author of The Longevity Diet, which describes a program of a basic daily diet along with an occasional 5-day FMD. I’ve listened to him be interviewed on various podcasts and have watched several videos, and I think he does a great job of explaining the science of how fasting reboots the immune system.
If the thought of fasting seems overwhelming to you, maybe you should consider FMD. At the very least, I hope you’ll watch the video above for a primer on why fasting or FMD can improve both lifespan and healthspan.
I personally haven’t tried FMD because I have found that fasting isn’t that difficult for me, and so I don’t feel a need to mimic fasting when I can do the real thing.
In future posts I’ll describe some fasting and time-restricted eating strategies that have worked well for me.