Speaker 1 (00:00:00):
Welcome to The Dr. Gundry Podcast, the weekly podcast where Dr. G gives you the tools you need to boost your health and live your healthiest life.
Dr. Gundry (00:00:14):
Welcome to The Dr. Gundry Podcast. Fasting, it’s one of the hottest health trends right now. It’s actually one of my favorites and, when done right, it is one of the best health hacks on the planet. But let’s be realistic, a lot of people don’t want to starve themselves for days on end. Well, today’s guest says you can reap all the benefits of fasting without actually fasting. In just a moment, Dr. Valter Longo will be sharing his findings included in his New York Times best seller, The Longevity Diet, as well as his newest research that is sure to change your life. After a quick break, Dr. Longo and I are going to dive right into the simple changes that we can all make in our daily lives to lose weight, extend our lifespans, strengthen our bodies and much more. So stick around, this episode is going to be a must listen to.
If you’ve been listening to our great show for a while, you know that I am a self-professed foodie. That may not be a scientific term, but as a passionate nutritionist, I can’t tell you what a fun time I had last night on my grand cooking tour. I started the night learning from the great Alice Waters from Chez Panisse. Then I was amazed as Niki Nakayama taught me all about modern Japanese cooking. After that, I had a final little session watching how Thomas Keller approaches cooking seafood. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I did this all in the comfort of my own home. None of this would’ve been possible without MasterClass. With MasterClass, you can learn from the world’s best minds, anytime, anywhere, and at your own pace. And with over 100 classes from a range of world-class instructors, the thing you’ve always wanted to do is a lot closer than you think. I’m also so impressed with these immersive lessons, the instructors are so engaging, and it’s an absolute joy to see these experts talk about their passions.
Plus these are bite-size classes, roughly 10 minutes or less, so I can fit them in, in my busy schedule. I highly recommend you check it out for yourselves or gift a membership for that special mom in your life. Get unlimited access to every MasterClass and as a Dr. Gundry Podcast listener, you get 15% off an annual membership. Go to masterclass.com/gundry now. That’s masterclass.com/gundry for 15% off MasterClass. If there is one thing you need to know about having good microbiome health, it’s Akkermansia. Akkermansia is the holy grail of microbiome health and I have talked all about it in my Paradox books. This amazing bacteria is a mucus producing lectin blocker that scientists have been trying to capture for decades. But thanks to Pendulum, you can now finally get ahold of it. Pendulum is the first and only company to offer probiotics containing Akkermansia muciniphila in either a standalone probiotic or in Pendulum glucose control. It is so important to incorporate Akkermansia into your daily routine because as we age, we naturally lose it. The only way you can reintroduce it back into your body is through Pendulum’s probiotics.
I’ve made sure to incorporate Pendulum into my daily routine, and I absolutely see the difference in my gut health. So you can experience the difference in your gut health too, they are offering a special 20% discount on the first month of an Akkermansia membership with code Gundry20. Go to www.pendulumlife.com and use my code, Gundry20, at checkout. That’s P-E-N-D-U-L-U-M-L-I-F-E.com and use my code, Gundry20, for a 20% discount on your first month of membership. If the product you are hoping to order is on wait list only, you will still be able to use the code once it’s back in stock. Dr. Longo. Valter, good to see you again. Welcome to the podcast.
Valter Longo (00:04:29):
Thanks. Thanks. Good to see you.
Dr. Gundry (00:04:31):
So tell us a little bit about your background for those people who don’t know, and I don’t know who that would be, but… And what led you to studying longevity and how fasting correlates with it?
Valter Longo (00:04:45):
Yeah, so I started actually working on aging in college and my second year in college. That’s all I’ve ever done. And then I was lucky enough to work with Roy Walford at UCLA, and Roy was one of the gurus of nutrition and longevity back in the early ’90s. So it was 30 years ago, I started working in Roy’s lab. Ater that, I moved to biochemistry from the pathology department, but I started studying starvation. So Roy was famous for calorie restriction, what happens to humans and mice when they’re eating less. But I ended up switching to starvation in bacteria, then in simple organisms, and then noticing that no matter what we starved, it will live longer, they become stronger. From this observation in bacteria and yeast, baker yeast, then I became a big fan of fasting at a time when everybody was not very impressed by aging research and even less impressed by starvation research. Both of them were considered to be just silly topics, at least back then. Yeah.
Dr. Gundry (00:06:01):
So tell me, I know you and I have talked before, I’ve had the pleasure of having you on the podcast before. Actually, it’s been about a year now that the study came out in Nature Aging, which I think really catapulted the whole idea of fasting or time restricted feeding. Can you tell me about this study? What was the most exciting discovery that came out of your work with Dr. Mattson?
Valter Longo (00:06:31):
I think that with Mark, it’s been mainly about collaborating in trying to find out what kind of fasting. I always say fasting is a word, it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s like eating. Well, of course, what you eat, how much you eat and when you eat matters. So it’s the same for fasting. So with Mark, I think it was very important in the collaboration for many years too, starting to define what are the things that seem to really work, what are the things that are safe, that have been demonstrated to be safe for a long time? And so how can we extract from all these ideas, something that is likely to make you live longer and healthier, or much healthier? I think that from that discussion, a few things emerged and one of them is certainly the 12 hours of fasting and 12 hours of feeding. And the other one, I think, at least in my case is the fasting mimicking diet done maybe three times a year.
Dr. Gundry (00:07:40):
Yeah. For those folks who don’t know about the fasting mimicking diet, and I’ve actually given you tribute in all my books about the fasting mimicking diet, can you tell us what that means, what it entails?
Valter Longo (00:07:57):
I think for about 100 years that the aging field has known that some type of calorie restriction can be very good for you, but it was very clear from the work of Walford and also the work in monkeys that is also very bad for you. So from back in those days, 30 years ago, I started thinking, there’s got to be a way to get all the good and none or very little of the bad. And thanks to the work that we were doing in simple organisms, I thought, is it possible that maybe we starve a system temporarily for three, four, or five days, and then we go back to a normal diet for months? And could it be that that effect last month? Initially, it was done with water only fasting and then as we started doing, now it’s almost 15 years ago, clinical trials in cancer patients at USC, we realized that this was not going to go anywhere. Water only fasting was not going to go anywhere. I think it took us 10 years to finish a small study on water only fasting and chemotherapy treatment.
So from there, the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Aging sponsored research on fasting mimicking diets. So we approach them and said, “We think we can develop FMDs that are as good as water only fasting in causing this fasting responses.” And so yeah, we were funded by the government and eventually we came up with, first demonstrating mice, and then now demonstrated with many clinical trials. Beginning with normal people, but then cancer patients, now auto-immunities, Alzheimer, diabetes, and hypertension, etc. Now I think there’s about 30 clinical studies that have either being running, finished or currently running on the FMDs.
Dr. Gundry (00:09:52):
So let’s back up for a second. You mentioned, of course, that fasting has some good things about it, and what are the good things that you’re trying to achieve with fasting, number one? And number two, how do you eat and not be fasting? I guess is the second question that everybody says, “Well, wait a minute. If you’re eating, that can’t be fasting,” but you’re saying it’s a fasting mimicking diet. What are the good things about fasting?
Valter Longo (00:10:27):
Yeah, so the clinical trials are now consistently suggesting, number one, probably this reset and the reset seems to be affecting almost everything. So when you look at the mice, we actually show, we demonstrate regeneration. So the organs shrink during the fasting mimicking diet and then the stem cells are turned on, and then when the mouse refeeds, we see many different organs beginning to have the stem cells generate new stem cells and generate new cells. So basically, regenerating the organ or at least part of the system or organ. That’s probably at the center of a lot of these resets and one of them seems to be insulin resistance. So probably, we come from a history of eating lots of the times and fasting lots of the times. And now we eat all the time and so the system probably goes into insulin resistance, for a good reason, to store fat, but at some point you want to use the fat. So it looks like the fasting and the fasting mimicking diet switches the system back into fat utilization mode. Now, if you go too far, this can change.
Then you might enter a thrifty mode, where now the metabolism slows down. So our job was to get it right, just to the point where the ketogenesis begins, the breakdown begins, it is feasible for the patient, but the thrifty mode, this metabolic slowdown does not begin. Yeah, so that’s the idea. And of course, there could be lots of other things that are involved in addition to the stem cells, autophagy certainly is a name thrown out there a lot, but it’s not clear how much of it happens, when it happens. How long you need in the various cells to actually get a lot of autophagy done. It doesn’t seem to happen a lot in the first two or three days. It probably is happening, starting day four or five of the fasting mimicking diet. And then, what is the fasting mimicking diet? It’s a low calorie, low protein, low sugar, high fat, vegan diet. My idea was well, we knew what each ingredient was doing to each factor. For example, IGF-1, IGFBP1, ketone bodies and glucose.
To a lot of people they’re just names, but let’s say that these are markers that we know to be very important for the starvation response. So first, we wanted to get the levels of the macronutrients or the proteins, etc., to make sure that all those move in the right direction and then we wanted to do it in a way consistent with the longevity zones of the world. I figured you were at Loma Linda, so you’re very aware of the type of diet that these zones consume, and so I thought it was a good idea to not just pick ingredients that could get these changes, but pick ingredients that also very healthy. So should somebody do this a lot of times, it would help in other ways. I think it was a good idea and we have some evidence, for example, from microbiota changes that seem to be caused by the content of the diet and not just the fasting component.
Dr. Gundry (00:13:59):
Yeah. Now, you and I have come under, maybe I’ll use the word attack, that protein restriction is part of a fasting mimicking diet. But animal protein seems to be much more mischievous than plant-based protein in terms of its amino acid content and activating mTOR signaling. Can you take us through your reasoning, why a vegan diet? Why not just have animal protein and cut the calories?
Valter Longo (00:14:41):
Yeah. So I’m not a fan of the vegan diet, first of all. I’m a fan of what I call the longevity diet, on which my book is based, and it’s essentially a pescatarian diet. But I think we need to move away from names and get into, and I think you agree with that, into age specific, sex specific, person specific etc. But I say in general, fish plus vegan seems to be very good up to 65, and then after 65, it seems that more of a variety of foods helps the elderly keep up. So it seems that the 80 year old doesn’t do very well with a vegan or even a pescatarian diet, unless there is a lot of animal proteins, and enough animal proteins. So we published on this in 2014 and what we published, based on the United States population studied by in the NHS database, it was very clear that if you restricted the population, the US population, they had a protein restriction, this fairly severe protein restriction, they were doing very well, but that was only true up to 65 years of age.
When we looked at the 70, 80, 90 year olds that reported having a very low protein diet, they did very poorly. So this is why we started coming up with this idea of age specific, age range specific nutrition. So why is that? Well, there’s amino acids that are very low in the legumes, particularly the legumes, and lots of people that have vegan diets may get a lot of their proteins from the legumes. Also, I think even if you get it from the legumes, which are very low in certain essential amino acids, it’s very difficult to get. Let’s say, you’re somebody weighing 70kg, or or let’s say somebody weighing 120lbs, it’s very difficult to get the 50g of proteins that you would need from just eating legumes and even if you do get it, they’re going to be very low in certain amount acid. So that seems to be actually very beneficial up to age 65 or 70, and then it appears to become very detrimental.
Dr. Gundry (00:17:05):
I agree with you. I call my diet a veg-aquarian diet, which I guess, is a pescatarian diet. I concentrate on eating greens and then we tend to supplement with wild shellfish, mollusks, clams, and oysters, and muscles, but that’s another subject. But you specifically, and we’ll get into this, you have a diet package that’s called ProLon, love the name, that is a five day vegan fast. So during that time, you definitely see, at least for a limited time, a benefit of just strictly avoiding animal protein.
Valter Longo (00:17:58):
Yeah. So when you’re talking about the period fasting mimicking diet.
Dr. Gundry (00:18:02):
Valter Longo (00:18:03):
Yeah, then we go 100% percent vegan and I think it’s very, very important to get the, because we already have very low protein, but I think by being vegan, we get certain amino acids to be even lower, which is exactly what we want, so we want to have a fasting response when you’re not fasting, so we have to use lots of tricks. That’s one of them, but in the FMD that we tested clinically, we have lots of tricks, each trying to achieve something different. Including making you less hungry, including having reserves for people whose gluconeogenic reserves, so that the liver can make a new glucose and we have tricks in there also to make sure that there are reserves in case you need more glucose so that you don’t pass out, so yeah. There’s a lot of technology actually in those five days, but we try to make it so that for people it’s just five days of vegan food.
Dr. Gundry (00:19:12):
In your book, you talk about the five pillars of longevity. How did you come to narrow those pillars down in turn it into five concepts?
Valter Longo (00:19:22):
I had spent 30 years doing this with lots of the world experts on nutrition and longevity and I just thought about what would be important for me when I’m designing a clinical trial, when I’m designing an epidemiological trial, and when I’m trying to come up with something that I feel is not going to be disputed or found to be wrong in five years. So how do I come up with that? I was very surprised that most of the data out there comes from epidemiological studies and as I was doing my own epidemiological studies, I think I learned that, wait a minute, depending on what group you select, you can get the opposite results. So I thought epidemiology is an incredible pillar, but it cannot be alone. It has to match, so how do you make a mouse or a rat or a monkey live longer? It has to match that and it has to match, well, what about the clinical trials? What if I randomize two groups, 100 and 100, and I give them low protein, high protein, what happens to them? How long does it last?
And then I also thought one of the most important pillars was the centenarians. If I go around the world and I do that this all the time, and I speak to the centenarians, do they do what these other three pillars allow me to come up with, or do they do something completely different? And then finally, I just thought from physics and reductionism, what about a car or a plane? How do they age? What are the problems that accumulate? So yeah, if you take a car, for example, one of these big dilemmas is should you run a lot or not? And the data is not that easy to understand. Is it good to run a hundred miles a week? And some people say yes, but then I go to pillar number five and they say, “Well, is it good to drive a car for 300 miles a day?” Most people will say, probably not. So in the long run, I don’t think it’s going to be such a good idea. Yeah, so I think that if pillar number five, complicated systems allows to look at a plane.
So for a plane, is it good to fly a plane around 10 times a day for 50 years and never change its parts? So probably not. Yeah, so together, we looked for the common denominator and I feel, and I think I got it absolutely right, yesterday PLOS Medicine published a study from a Norwegian group showing a meta analysis on food and sure enough, what came out of it was pretty much the longevity diet, so fish and then lots of vegetables. And they didn’t talk about low protein, but certainly, it would be hard to have high protein diet eating like that. And fruit was there, but it was neutral. It looked like a neutral effect, so probably good and bad as you also pointed out in your book.
Dr. Gundry (00:22:29):
Yeah. So if you were going to choose one of those five pillars, what do you think has the most impact? Or are they really all equal?
Valter Longo (00:22:39):
I think that, I mean, maybe the complicated system would be not necessary per se. I mean, it’s not easy to make the scientific case that that’s going to be essential. But yeah, I would say the other. And the centenarians, you could argue, it’s just observation. But I think they’re all equal. Yeah, because in the end, if you don’t actually see something being practiced by a lot of people for 100 years, you are introducing, no matter what the numbers say, you are introducing a certain level of risk. So for example, as we are starting to think about rapamycin and drugs that treat aging, so a lot of people are getting excited about potential drugs that treat aging. But then you have to say, “Well, will it be okay eventually if I make everybody live 8% longer and I make 10% of the people live 20% shorter?” I don’t think it’s okay. I would rather say, “Hey, everybody should live normal and I’m not advertising this type of diet.”
Yeah, so I think that, let’s say rapamycin, if we had thousands of people that made it to 100 and almost nobody that we heard from saying, “I think I died a lot earlier because of rapamycin.” So that would be good to have before making the recommendation to healthy people. Not necessarily to somebody who’s got a disease, but to healthy people.
Dr. Gundry (00:24:20):
Well, let’s go out on a limb. Do you think we should have a low dose rapamycin trial or an intermittent rapamycin trial?
Valter Longo (00:24:29):
Yeah. I think that they’re going to do it. Metformin is going to be tested and rapamycim. Some form mTOR inhibitor is going to be tested and that’s good. I mean, we’re the ones that discovered that role of that pathway in aging back in 2001, in yeast, so I’d be very happy if somebody… And metformin is interfering with the same pathways, but metformin seems to be affecting both of, what we described as the sugar pathway and the protein pathway, aging pathways. So yeah, I would love to see it, but I think it’s long to come up with a conclusion that I give this to somebody and everybody’s going to benefit and almost nobody is going to be negatively affected. It’s going to be very hard. So this is why I really like the nutrition. For the next 20 years I see the nutrition dominating and then eventually, yes, we may have enough data 20, 30 years from now to say, “Okay, we get this pill. Look, we’ve been studying this for 30 years and nobody got hurt by this. We have epidemiology on it and everybody’s living 12% longer.”
Yeah, so I think at that point, it might be much more convincing to go with the drugs.
Dr. Gundry (00:25:49):
That brings up a really good point that I talk a lot about, including in my new book, Unlocking the Keto Code, metabolic health or what I call metabolic flexibility. And I think you and I both agree that one of the things that’s killing all of us, particularly in America, is that most people actually have no metabolic flexibility. They’re not able to shift in their mitochondria from burning glucose as a fuel to burning free fatty acids or ketones. Tell me about the effect of fasting and the fasting mimicking diet on metabolic health? Or maybe give me your thoughts on our poor metabolic health in the United States?
Valter Longo (00:26:40):
Yeah. So I think it connects to what we were discussing. That eventually organs, particularly… I think there is a dual process regulated by the same foods, mostly by proteins and sugars one of them is fat accumulation, which goes along with insulin resistance and the other one is actually aging. So I think you have a parallel effect on obesity, overweight, accumulation of fat, establishment of insulin resistance and on the other side, you’re pushing the growth factor, growth hormone, IGF-1 and also insulin. You’re pushing those to be accelerating something that should not be accelerated. Nothing’s growing. Nothing is reproducing. So essentially we are in a reproduction mode all the time, but nobody’s reproducing. Yeah, so I think that first of all, the fasting mimicking is going after all of it, because I think it was there for that purpose. Not the fasting, that fasting was there for that purpose. I think fasting was there for the purpose of resetting the system periodically and so since everybody starved once in a while, there was no need to impose it. It was like…
Dr. Gundry (00:28:05):
Valter Longo (00:28:06):
Yeah. Normal and unavoidable. So I don’t need to make you tired biologically, because you’re going to sleep anyway. So in this case, I don’t need to impose biologically, fasting because you’re going to fast. But then it was probably A, as I mentioned earlier, resetting this catabolic mode, fat burning mode, and then telling the cells of the fat and muscle, etc., “Okay. Now it’s not time to be resistant anymore. Now, let’s embrace insulin and let’s bring in the sugar. We don’t need to have lots of insulin accumulating fat anymore, because we are using it.” Yeah, so on one side that’s a process and then on the other side, I think that as we see now with many clinical trials, you have long term effects on leptin, long term effect on IGF-1. So you do the fasting mimicking diet, but the effect on IGF-1 goes on for months. So we looked at three months after the end of the diet and it was still there. Yeah, so long lasting effects that are, I think representing an anti-inflammatory, antiaging modality. It doesn’t last forever.
After a while, I think it’s starting. So even already at three months post, we see about 40% of the effects disappearing. So suggesting that by six months you are getting back to where you started. I mean, provided that you go back to a terrible diet. In fact, a couple months ago we published what happens to mice if we give them a terrible, high sugar, bad, lots of fat, lots of sugar, lots of calorie diet. And the mice become huge. But we do it together with five days a month of the FMD and we pretty much reverse all the bad effects of this high calorie diet, sort of Western high calorie diet. Yeah, so then suggesting that even five days a month are sufficient and this included insulin resistance, included longevity, included cardiac function in the mice, cholesterol levels. Cholesterol levels shoot up to very, very high by 30 months in the mice, and in this five days a month of the FMD brought it back to normal. Yeah, so I think that’s really an overall, very broad effect underlining the probably evolved nature of it.
It’ll be strange that it affects inflammation and affects IGF-1 and affects cholesterol, blood pressure. I mean, name it. So how can it be if it wasn’t there for the purpose of fixing things and also, differential effects. With somebody that starts with a blood pressure of 110, we don’t lower it. If somebody starts with a blood pressure of 100, we might even see an increase in blood pressure, and same thing for glycemia. We see lots of people in the 70s going up in fasting glucose and that’s, I think exactly what we want. In calorie restriction, that does the opposite. Push everything down and down and down, possibly reaching a minimum threshold, which should not be surpassed.
Dr. Gundry (00:31:27):
Working out is a key part of my physical and mental health routine. I love doing it and I especially love all of the amazing benefits. Before every workout, I make sure to throw on my favorite gear because there is nothing worse than working out in uncomfortable clothes. Ten Thousand Clothes are my go-to workout clothes. My closet is filled with their 7″ interval shorts with liner and their versatile shirts. My favorite part is that they have a silver ion for odor protection in the fabric that’s breathable and lightweight, and an optional liner that is very comfortable and prevents chafing. Whether you’re running or simply gardening, Ten Thousand is gear for any type of activity. They even had a team of over 200 athletes test their gear to ensure the perfect fabric, trim, design, and fit were used. Good news, Ten Thousand is offering our listeners 15% off your purchase. Go to tenthousand.cc/gundry to receive 15% off your purchase. That is tenthousand.cc/gundry.
Tired of wandering the grocery aisles to hunt down your favorite lectin-free foods? Me too. That’s why I shop at Thrive Market. Thrive Market is an online marketplace that offers everything from healthy pantry essentials to non-toxic cleaning and beauty products, all delivered right to your door. With over 90 lifestyle and value filters, shopping by what matters most has never been easier. In fact, I’ve even curated my own Dr. Gundry grocery store, which features Gundry-approved foods like Thrive Olive Snack Packs, and Let’s Do Organic Green Banana Flour so you can quickly and easily find foods that support your health, energy and so much more. Plus Thrive Market also offers great deals on everything from grass-fed beef and natural wine to eco-friendly cleaning products and lectin-free baking supplies. Better yet, Thrive Market members save an average of $32 on every order. $32, can your grocery store do that? Now it can when you go to thrivemarket.com/gundrypodcast. Join today to get 40% off your first order and a free gift worth over $50. That’s T-H-R-I-V-Emarket.com/gundrypodcast to get 40% off your first order and a free gift worth over $50, thrivemarket.com/gundry podcast.
The Dr. Gundry Podcast is brought to you by Progressive Insurance. Hi friends, whether you love true crime or comedies, celebrity interviews, news, or even motivational speakers, you call the shots on what’s in your podcast routine, right? And guess what? Now, you can call the shots on your auto insurance too. Enter the Name Your Price Tool from Progressive. The Name Your Price Tool puts you in charge of your auto insurance by working just the way it sounds. You tell Progressive how much you want to pay for car insurance. Then they’ll show you a variety of coverages that fit within your budget, giving you options. Now, that’s something you’ll want to press play on. It’s easy to start a quote and you’ll be able to choose the best option for you fast. It’s just one of the many ways you can save with Progressive Insurance. Quote today at progressive.com to try the Name Your Price Tool for yourself and join the over 27 million drivers who trust Progressive. Progressive Casualty Insurance Company and Affiliates, price and coverage match limited by state law.
Yeah, I know your mentor was Ray Walford and I’ve certainly studied him extensively when I started down this path, and he was the father of calorie restriction. What mistakes were made in calorie restriction? Why isn’t that, at least for humans, a great, viable long term solution?
Valter Longo (00:35:40):
Yeah. I don’t think Roy made mistakes. I think Roy was just too early. It was a period where molecular didn’t exist. The whole genetics of aging field was started by a group of us, actually, back then and so they did not have those available. He did not have those available, but I think in the end, the mistakes or the problems with calorie restriction, first of all, is the chronic nature of it and the fact that it pushes your weight and muscle and bone, etc. to a very low level, which most people, whether it is healthy for you or not, will not want to do. So already 99% of the people are out because if you look at Walford during [inaudible 00:36:28] of two years when he was on the calorie restriction, he did not look good and he knew that. And he knew that. And then I think it’s also the trade offs. We see that the re-feeding part of the FMD is as important or maybe more important than the fasting, because the re-feeding is the building moment. So with calorie restriction, re-feeding never comes.
And also, calorie restriction, now we know there the thrifty mode is entered. So now, let’s say you lose 20% of your weight and you go to a very low BMI, body mass index, but now your metabolism might slow down 30% and so now you have to eat almost nothing to not gain weight. Yeah, so then if you look at the monkeys study, you’ll see, I mean, in the National Institute of Aging, you see no effect or little effect, some in diseases. But in Wisconsin, you see a big effect on diseases. Diabetes, incredible effect. Cardiovascular disease, about a 50% decrease. In cancer, about a 20%, 30% decrease. Sorry, 50% in cancer and 20%, 30% in cardiovascular. But then, if you look at overall mortality, the monkeys are living a little bit longer if they’re calorie restricted, but not that much longer. Right. Yeah, so this is suggesting that the trade offs are pretty high. So we learned a lot from it, but I think we need to move to more feasible and more effective intervention.
Dr. Gundry (00:38:08):
Let me ask you your opinion. What do you think, Dr. Rafael de Cabo from the NIH has certainly proposed that maybe a part of calorie restriction, certainly in an animal model, is that we’re controlling the time of eating of these animals and that the calorie restricted animals are going to eat all their food very quickly, because they’re hungry, and it’s the period of time of fasting every 24 hours that may be having a huge effect from the calorie restriction. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Valter Longo (00:38:50):
Yeah. This work, both by Rafa and by Satchin Panda and yeah, I think that I recommend 12 hours of fasting and 12 hours of feeding. I think as you go to the breakfast skippers, you start to see negative effects and it doesn’t mean that the fasting is causing the negative effects, but I always was worried about why is it that the people that skip breakfast are consistently living shorter. One concern would be with the 16/8 or so, not with the 12. I always say I’ve never seen any negative studies on 12 hours, 12/13 hours of fasting every day. But as you get to the 16, particularly if breakfast skipping is involved, now you start seeing the negatives and you have to think about, is it possible that the ketone bodies are now potentially putting, these very high levels all the time of ketone bodies are potentially putting a strain on the cardiovascular system. We don’t know, it may have nothing to do with that.
But I think that with the 16 hours all the time, and maybe the cycles, could it be that it’s just very high levels and very low levels and it’s just going back and forth, is causing some problems? Or is there something having nothing to do with fasting? So yeah, it could be. And it could be, if you did that with skipping dinner, now you don’t have the problem at all and you’ll have a much longer lifespan, so we don’t know. So it’d be nice to know to have the dinner skipping studies, which may be difficult to do because maybe not too many people skip dinner.
Dr. Gundry (00:40:50):
Yeah. When I wrote my last book, The Energy Paradox, I really wanted to have people skip dinner and just eat breakfast and lunch, and I couldn’t get my patients to do it and it’s hard for me because my wife and I really only see each other at dinner. And it’s like, “What? I’m going to watch her eat? Well, I’m not.” And it’s very hard to implement. But you, correct me if I’m wrong, this past year during COVID, you published a study looking at giving people a Fast Bar, your, basically nut bar for breakfast as their only food and you showed that they stayed in ketosis for four hours even after eating that bar. You want to elaborate on that? And I agree with that by the way.
Valter Longo (00:41:45):
Dr. Gundry (00:41:45):
And I mentioned it in the new book.
Valter Longo (00:41:48):
Yeah. Yeah. So I think that that study had to do with having breakfast, but not interfering with the fasting. So the idea was, if there’s something about not having breakfast that is detrimental, let’s give the patient breakfast, but let’s allow at least a modern level of ketogenesis to continue. Yeah, so I think that’s definitely a step up from skipping breakfast. That was my thought. So could it be the best step up or maybe half way? But even if it was half way, it was really designed for people that were going to skip breakfast anyway and so maybe now they can have breakfast and continue to get some of the benefits of the fasting.
Dr. Gundry (00:42:41):
Did you find any benefits to doing that rather than just skipping breakfast? I mean, was there a positive outcome of having a Fast Bar or a handful of nuts?
Valter Longo (00:42:57):
The trial was designed to just look at, can you have breakfast and have the fasting effects at the same time?
Dr. Gundry (00:43:10):
Valter Longo (00:43:11):
Yes, so that was the design. It wasn’t designed to see whether the ketogenesis or the high level of ketone bodies would have additional benefits. Of course, there’s a lot of studies suggesting lots of benefits of the ketones bodies, but that was not the design of the study to look at what the ketone bodies can do.
Dr. Gundry (00:43:36):
I’m sure everybody wants to know, because they always want to know about me, so what do you do? I mean, are you having a fasting mimicking diet one week a month? Just describe your day?
Valter Longo (00:43:55):
Well, I mean, I have a very, fairly strict longevity diet. So fish maybe three times a week with some variety and then lots of legumes, I mean tons of legumes every night and tons of vegetables. I probably have seven or eight servings of vegetables per day, of legumes and vegetables per day. Then I have pasta almost every day, but I have limited amounts, so I keep it about 70g. That’s my dose at night. I don’t eat lunch unless I am back to my ideal weight. So now, for example, when I’m in Italy, it’s very hard to not have lunch. So I have to say, I failed to have the lunch skipping mode in Italy. But then I come back to California and then I’m able to do that and just have coffee for lunch. It works better for me. Yeah, so Monday through Friday, I just have coffee for, sorry, American coffee for lunch and that works very well. I mean, that allows me to control my weight very easily. And the beauty of that, and this is why I talk about it in my book.
I don’t know if you mentioned that in your book, but the beauty of that is that you suffer for about a month. A month, month and a half, and at the beginning, when you do that, it’s terrible because you’re looking for lunch. And then, basically I’ve been doing it for 20 years, for the rest of your life, lunch becomes completely optional. So your brain rewires, probably to understand that, “I already know it’s optional. Sometimes we have it. Sometimes we don’t have it.” And now, by having the weekend lunch, I always have lunch in the weekend, even if I’m in California, by having these two things, I think my system is very well adapted to going back and forth and it understands that that’s just completely optional. Yeah, so I think now we’re starting a study, a clinical study in Southern Italy where we’re going to do this and try to test it and see what happens and what the compliance is.
We’re taking a population of 500 people and we’re splitting it into two, and then we’re going to do a randomized crossover trial where we basically put everybody in the ideal longevity diet, both the fasting mimicking diet and longevity diet. Yeah and then the fasting mimicking diet, I do it maybe a couple times a year just because I have such a strict, already longevity diet, plus every day, skipping lunch. I don’t want to overdo it. Yeah.
Dr. Gundry (00:46:55):
Great. Now, I know you’ve been doing this for 30 years and working and studying longevity. Can you share some of the results that you’ve witnessed from your work and specific people overcoming major illnesses or other stories you can share?
Valter Longo (00:47:13):
Yeah. So I was very proud of the clinical trial, randomized 125 patients done by 12 Dutch hospitals, looking at breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy with, or without the FMD, the fasting mimicking diet and we actually saw those responses. The more cycles of the fasting mimicking diet, the better either the clinical or the pathological response was of the chemo against the tumor. I think there was a difference between those that never did the FMD and those that did it almost every cycle. The FMD is a fivefold difference in the portion of non-responders, so remarkable. And understanding that is one of the larger level studies and now we’ve done maybe about 10 studies on this topic in cancer and FMD. So the cancer looks very, very promising and we just finished a study on hypertension, we just finished a study on diabetes. I cannot talk about the results, but let me talk about the ones that we already published, which is the 2017 study where we saw lots of pre-diabetics coming back to a completely non pre-diabetic state.
And we also saw the people that have mild hypertension returning to normal if they were not taking drugs. Yeah, so let’s say that everything is consistent with that and also HbA1C, there seems to be a good effect on lowering that so the hope is that we provide sort of a food medicine type of intervention for metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, diabetes, and probably also a portion of cardiovascular patients.
Dr. Gundry (00:49:25):
Is there a difference in gender? Do men and women respond differently? Are there tricks for men or women?
Valter Longo (00:49:32):
We have done now, people don’t realize how expensive and painful mouse studies are, but we finished finally male and female with the FMD lifelong. I have to say that we see very similar effects in both sexes and then in the clinical trials thus far, when we analyze the males and female people, we see very similar effects. Yeah, so it’s good news and obviously, when you try to move it from mice to people, then I guess it’d be very surprising if it works. Let’s say mice, rats and people, but in people it just happen to work only in one sex. But it’s possible, but yeah, that’s not what we’re seeing. We’ve seen pretty similar results thus far.
Dr. Gundry (00:50:24):
No, that’s good news because a lot of times we hear on the internet that, “Well, women should be careful. This is not what a woman wants to do. It works great on men, but be careful, women.” And I get that question all the time, but you’re not seeing that?
Valter Longo (00:50:43):
I think everybody should be careful and I see so many irrational exuberance as Greenspan used to say. Yeah, so I will avoid this idea of, “Oh, I’m fasting and I cook it up at home and yeah, this is just going to do, eventually more damage than good. What I see right now is probably going to do more damage than good.” And particularly seeing the latest thing, the flavor of the month, and, “I’m going to go home and try it.” Yeah. So I think I really encourage people to think about the five pillars and think about 30, 40 years of accumulated research versus thinking about, “Oh, I heard this on the news so I’m going to go home and do it.” Yeah, so let’s try to see what are the few things that can be done, how they should be done, who they should be done with. So somebody that has got a BMI of 18 is very different than somebody who’s got a BMI of 28.
And somebody, as you pointed out in your first book, there are ingredients that seem to be very good for you and maybe they’re very bad for you, like tomatoes, for example. Yeah, I think everybody wants a simple, simple solution and the solution is way more complicated than people realize. It’s not hard to do. The good news is once you’ve got the experts telling you, “Okay, you don’t eat tomatoes,” then it’s not that hard, or maybe only eat the tomato paste.
Dr. Gundry (00:52:26):
Yeah, yeah. Exactly.
Valter Longo (00:52:27):
Yeah. So then it’s not hard, but if you don’t know, it’s devastating to you. Yeah, so I think it’s the same for fasting. You’ve got to work with products and people and doctors that know what they’re doing, and then it’s easy. Don’t worry about it. It’s not about revolutionizing your life. I have two clinics for the foundation, my nonprofit foundation, and we tailor everything to what the needs of people are.
Dr. Gundry (00:52:55):
Yeah. Okay, I can’t let you go eating a lot of legumes. I eat a lot of legumes. I eat a lot of beans, I eat a lot of lentils, but I soak and pressure cook them. And I had Joel Fuhrman, Eat To Live on my podcast recently and got him to admit that he pressure cooks his beans. What say you, Valter?
Valter Longo (00:53:18):
I don’t know, but I mean, clearly I think you are absolutely right. Once there is a moment of microbiota disruption.
Dr. Gundry (00:53:33):
Valter Longo (00:53:34):
Which is probably in a pretty good percentage of the population. Yeah, so once the disruption, which you talk about also happens, then I think the legumes may start becoming a problem to lots of people. I mean, I never tried the pressure cooking, but I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. I want to try it out. But I would say, I think in the past it was not an issue because people were not exposed to all these antibiotics and all…
Dr. Gundry (00:53:34):
Valter Longo (00:54:06):
And all these drugs and crazy interventions. But now that almost everybody is, so how many people are out there that have enough of a disruption where those prebiotic ingredients are now causing a problem? Yeah, so I think absolutely very interesting. Now, I have several people in the lab working on that, working also with your ideas. So we are trying to get the science out of it, the exact, what’s about all these different ingredients and some of this is remarkable. I mean, we see dead mice on some of these ingredients that everybody eats and some of it’s shocking. So absolutely, I think that it needs a lot of research and the pressure cooking, I mean, is there a scientific explanation, so it’s a breakdown of a particular ingredient? Is that what the pressure cooking…
Dr. Gundry (00:55:06):
Yeah. Yeah. Pressure cooking actually can break these lectin proteins. It won’t break gluten, interestingly enough. But there’s actually an Italian company, and I have no relation, Jovial that actually soaks and pressure cooks their beans and I actually use their brand and they’re fantastic, and they’re from Italy. So come on, there you go. Try them.
Valter Longo (00:55:31):
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. What is it called?
Dr. Gundry (00:55:33):
Jovial, like a happy person.
Valter Longo (00:55:35):
Dr. Gundry (00:55:35):
Valter Longo (00:55:36):
Dr. Gundry (00:55:37):
And they have it in glass jars. It’s in lots of stores nowadays, so look for it and we’ll talk. Well, listen, it’s been great having you on the program again. What’s on the horizon for you? What’s next? You’re always so busy.
Valter Longo (00:55:58):
I think we are doing lots of clinical trials and now we just approached the FDA for the first FDA track on cancer drugs. Food based fasting mimicking diets for hormone therapy treatment and so we put together 11 of some of the best hospitals in the world, MD Anderson, Mayo Clinic, etc. And we’re hoping to start very soon, a large trial, which is FDA track. Yeah, so I hope that we’ll start lots of uses of these FMDs and diseases with the doctors, with what I call the team. So, so we need a nutritionist, dietician, doctor, or psychologist. Yeah, so I think that’s the future is to have these teams having the tools, but also the teams that can apply it, and that’s what we are working on now.
Dr. Gundry (00:57:02):
Great. And where can people find you? Where can they find your company for fasting mimicking diets, etc.?
Valter Longo (00:57:11):
Yeah. Okay. Thee company, I cannot mention it, but it’s easy to find. You mentioned it before. I didn’t.
Dr. Gundry (00:57:20):
Yeah. I happened to spill the beans, so to speak.
Valter Longo (00:57:23):
But I also, we have a foundation clinic in Santa Monica here, it’s called Create Cures Foundation Clinic and so everybody should consider it, especially cancer patients and people with big problems. But everybody’s is welcome. We have a group of dieticians that are very well qualified.
Dr. Gundry (00:57:48):
Great. Well, again, thanks for coming on the show again and we’ll look forward to reading more about you. Almost every month you publish a great new study, and keep up the good work.
Valter Longo (00:58:00):
Okay. Thanks a lot. Thanks a lot.
Dr. Gundry (00:58:01):
Bye, Valter. I’ve got a new book out, Unlocking the Keto Code: The Revolutionary New Science of Keto That Offers More Benefits Without Deprivation. Discover how to make a keto diet work for you and look better, feel healthier and live longer. Find Unlocking the Keto Code at drgundry.com.
Heather Dubrow (00:58:28):
Hi everyone. It’s Heather Dubrow, telling you to check out Heather Dubrow’s World on PodcastOne. Every week we discuss the hippest, hottest news trends in health, wellness, parenting style, and so much more, including all things Housewives and Botched. Download new episodes of Heather Dubrow’s World on Thursdays and Fridays on PodcastOne, Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Amazon Music.
Dr. Gundry (00:58:55):
All right. It’s time for our audience question. This week’s question comes from KST on YouTube, “Are one or two dates, Medjool dates, okay to eat as a sugar substitute, added to food or to eat on their own occasionally?” Yeah, actually, as you probably noticed, they are actually on the approved food list with a proviso. They actually have a lot of soluble fiber in it, but they also have a lot of sugar. So using them in food, I occasionally chop one up in a salad, is perfectly fine. But I can tell you, particularly in my patients, my Muslim patients during Ramadan, so many of them use a lot of dried dates and a lot of dried figs as part of their evening meal, and I’ve written extensively about the benefits of the Ramadan diet. And for those of you who are not aware, you have to eat breakfast before sunrise and you don’t eat or drink until after sunset, when you have your evening meal and a Ramadan diet literally results in about a 20 hour a day fast. So perfect apropro to this podcast.
Those people have a lot of benefits that I can see in their blood work. But interestingly, they tend to run very high triglycerides, which come from sugars and starches, and a few of them, I’ve convinced them during Ramadan to eliminate the dates and figs and then we repeat it and lo and behold, their triglycerides plummet when they take those away. So it’s kind of that Goldilocks area, a little dab will do you and it sounds like that’s exactly what you’re doing. Great question. Review of the week. This week’s review comes from Matasia on YouTube, who enjoyed my recent podcast lecture, who said, “Awesome. The calculation of how much sugar a certain food has blew me away. I never knew that. From now on, I will be more careful. Thanks, Dr. G.” I was talking with another doctor earlier today on a phone call and I recently had a patient who is a diabetic and he knows all the rules. And I saw him back a couple weeks ago, and he’s still a diabetic. He has high blood sugars, he has high insulin levels and I’m going, “You’re not following the program.”
And he says, “Oh yes, I am. I don’t eat any sugar. It’s banned. I have no sugar.” And I said, “Well, I don’t think so. So I’ll tell you what, what do you have for breakfast?” He says, “Oh, I have a big bowl of Rice Chex every morning because it has no sugar.” And I said, “What are you talking about? It’s pure sugar.” He says, “no, it’s not. It says 1g of sugar.” So I actually pulled up the package on the internet and pointed out that he was correct, it has 1g of sugar, but it has 44g of total carbohydrates and no fiber. So you divide that by four because there’s 4g of sugar in one teaspoon of sugar. So this guy, every morning, by the package was having 11 teaspoons of sugar every morning, thinking he was eating sugar free and it absolutely blew him away. If you remember on my podcast, I’ve had the former head of the FDA, Dr. Kessler, who pointed out that the labels are totally misleading and you have to look at total carbohydrates minus the fiber.
That’ll tell you the grams of sugar and then for fun, divide that by four to get the teaspoons of sugar in that serving. And remember, those serving sizes are ridiculously small, because they want to hide all this from you. So I’m glad you liked that and thank you. And again, thanks for writing in. That’s why I do these podcasts. Because if it’s useful to you, I’m going to keep doing it. Because as you know, I’m Dr. Gundry and I’m always looking out for you. We’ll see you next week. Thanks for joining me on this episode of The Dr. Gundry Podcast. Before you go, I just wanted to remind you that you can find the show on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcast. And if you want to watch each episode of The Dr. Gundry Podcast, you could always find me on YouTube, at youtube.com/drgundry, because I’m Dr. Gundry and I’m always looking out for you.