10 Things to Know About How Fasting and Low Calorie Diets Affect Longevity and Disease.

I learned a lot in 2018.  One of the highlights for me last year was attending the 1st International Conference on Fasting, Dietary Restriction, Longevity and Disease. Many of the best known names in the world of research on fasting, low calorie diets, longevity and diseases were attending or presenting.  The conference was chaired by famed longevity researcher and author of the “Longevity Diet” book, Dr. Valter Longo.  Longo is the Director of both the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California and The Program on Longevity and Cancer at IFOM in Milan.


1st International Conference on Fasting, Dietary Restriction, Longevity and Disease.

Dr. Valter Longo

As you may already know, I love reading research about anything to do with nutrition, fitness and disease prevention and longevity.  The older I get, the more important these things are!  Staying up to date on the latest research helps me guide my fitness and nutrition clients to achieving better results.  I simply go with the science.  There’s a lot of hucksters out there with made up diet theories or anecdotal evidence that you’ll find in books, websites and on Instagram.  So, it was great to sit and listen to the actual researchers present their findings – some of it not yet published – and hear exactly what the clinical results were of different types of fasts and diets on diseases and longevity.


There’s way too much information to write about here.  Out of respect for your eyeballs and time, I’m just going to give you some nuggets of things I think you’ll find interesting.

Some of the key takeaways of the conference:

  1. Aging is a major risk factor of all chronic diseases.  In other words, the older you get, the more chronic diseases you’re likely to develop.  So how do we slow down aging?  Periodically fasting, eating a truly healthy diet and exercising regularly.

  2. Brain size and function decreases with obesity and over-eating.  The higher your BMI, the lower your brain function, according to Mark Mattson, PhD and researcher at the NIA (National Institute on Aging).

  3. Mattson also says Parkinson’s disease begins in your gut and gets to the brain via the vagus nerve, according to studies done on mice.

  4. Some longevity drugs therapies to have on your radar are, Rapamycin (from a bacteria that was discovered on Easter Island), Metformin (used currently for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.  It comes from a lily plant), Resveratrol, which you’ve probably heard of as coming from grapes or wine.  I don’t recommend you try to get these products on Amazon or without discussing dosage with a medical doctor.  Some of the research is controversial at the moment.

  5. Eat according to your circadian rhythm, meaning during hours of light.  Dr. Satchin Panda of the Salk Institute is the foremost researcher in this area.  Try not to eat beyond a 12 hour window.  And, the earlier the better (i.e. 6:30 am to 6:30 pm). Women who ate within and 11 hour window had a 25% decrease in risk of breast cancer.  Read my blog about it here

  6. Dr. Panda also found people who practiced TRE (time restricted eating), having their meals within a 9 – 12 hour window had up to 100% better endurance during exercise and better levels of triglycerides, glucose and cholesterol.  Plus, your body burns more calories during the day than at night.

  7. You probably don’t need as much protein as you think you do.  Too much protein activates a metabolic pathway called mTOR that regulates cell growth.  It’s great when it makes your muscles grow, but if you’re middle aged (40 – 65) it may also make tumors grow.  So don’t over do it.  After 65 though, go ahead and up your protein intake.  It will help you maintain your muscles which you need for longevity.  Replace that extra protein with healthy fats.

  8. Professor Amanda Salis studied the difference between slow and fast weight loss diets.  You know those diets where you have 2 meal replacement shakes then a healthy dinner that are intended for fast initial weight loss?  Dr. Salis found those types of diets lead to more total weight loss and far better adherence than diets where you eat real food and lose more slowly.  But since people don’t eat like that forever, the weight eventually comes back.  No surprise there.

  9. Lots of research has shown that starved organisms live longer and are more stress resistant. Fasting causes cells to go into high protection mode.

  10. The Fasting Mimicking Diet based on 25 years of research by Dr. Valter Longo has been shown to:

    • activate blood stem cell regeneration

    • rejuvenate the immune system

    • improve brain function

    • preserve lean body mass

    • burn visceral abdominal fat (the really bad kind)

    • stimulate autophagy (cellular clean-up where the body breaks down old, damaged cells).


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Jill Brown
Jill Brown
Hi, I'm JillI am a Los Angeles based Fitness + Nutrition Coach. With 20+ years of experience in teaching, training and continuing my education, I have transformed thousands of lives through fitness and healthy lifestyle changes.