Interviews, Podcast

Dr. Valter Longo on Fasting, Longevity and The Fasting Mimicking Diet

Long time followers of this blog have often heard me talk about the benefits of fasting and especially how fasting regenerates the immune system.

Today I am beyond thrilled to share an interview with the man behind that ground-breaking research and so much more: Dr. Valter Longo.

Dr. Longo was born and raised in Genoa, Italy and received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Texas, where he majored in biochemistry with a minor in jazz performance. He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from UCLA in 1997 and did his postdoctoral training in the Neurobiology of Aging and Alzheimer’s Diseases at USC.

Dr. Longo is currently a Professor of Gerontology and Biological Sciences, and Director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California. His most recent studies are on dietary interventions that can affect stem cell-based regeneration to promote longevity and reverse the course of many diseases.

Dr. Longo is recognized as a global leader in aging and nutrition with over 100 peer reviewed publications in top tier journals including Science, Nature, Cell, JAMA, Cancer Cell, Journal of Translational Medicine, and more.

Dr. Longo developed the ProLon 5-Day Fasting Mimicking Diet, which is a plant-based calorie-restricted diet that nourishes the body while producing the same beneficial effects as water fasting including autophagy, protection of healthy cells, weakening of cancer cells, stem cell and immune system regeneration, and more.

He is also author of the new book The Longevity Diet. It’s a great read. Highly recommended.

I know you will enjoy this fascinating interview with Dr. Valter Longo!

(It’s also on the Chris Beat Cancer podcast in iTunes, Spotify and Stitcher)

Show Notes:
– From aspiring jazz musician to longevity expert [1:31]
– The story of Biosphere 2 (not a video game) [4:44]
– How animal protein increases your risk of cancer death [11:35]
– What happens in the body when you consume excess protein [14:35]
– High protein and high sugar together drive most pro-aging and pro-cancer genes [17:27]
– The incredible benefits of fasting including stem-cell regeneration [19:35]
– Why he hates the term “intermittent fasting” [26:58]
– Skipping breakfast increases your risk of premature death [29:05]
– The Pro-Lon Fasting Mimicking Diet [31:00]
– Results of the human trials combining FMD with chemotherapy [36:38]
– My experience with the ProLon FMD  [39:08]
– Why the Fasting Mimicking Diet is superior to a long-term ketogenic diet [41:20]
– The ideal dietary macronutrient ratio [44:34]
– The non-calorie-restricted ketogenic diet does not induce repair and protection in the body [45:17]
– The remarkable results of the Fasting Mimicking Diet human clinical trial [50:35]
– How often Dr. Longo does the Fasting Mimicking Diet [54:06]
– If Dr. Longo had to eat the same 3 meals every day what they would be [56:00]

A few Ketogenic diet quotes from Dr. Longo…

“A lot of the ketogenic diets out there are artificial ones and they impose an artificial condition, which is high animal fat and high animal protein (butter and bacon). You can very quickly go from something very good to something very bad, which doesn’t appear as very bad when you first do it. It could be that when you do it you lose weight and you think,”I feel good. I’m losing weight.” And then eventually you could start having kidney damage, (negative) effects on IGF-1, atherosclerosis, plaque formation, etc… A lot of these ketogenic diets come from nowhere, but they (keto promoters) are able to convince hundreds of thousands of people to do it.”

“The Fasting Mimicking Diet allows the natural process of starvation (autophagy, protection, stem cell regeneration) to occur. You don’t interfere with the natural process. That’s a key of the Fasting Mimicking Diet. In the case of the ketogenic diet, you are trying to force the system into doing something that it has never evolved to do… It’s very scary and almost guaranteed a failure. Even if it’s a good thing for 1-5 years, eventually the body is going to have problems… When you introduce an environment that the body has never seen before, sooner or later it is not going to be able to function in that environment.”

“If you take exogenous ketones and eat a fairly normal diet it is a recipe for disaster… you are pushing the body to do two metabolic strategies at the same time and that could be problematic.”

Dr. Longo’s book is available now…

The Longevity Diet: Discover the New Science Behind Stem Cell Activation and Regeneration to Slow Aging, Fight Disease and Optimize Weight by Valter Longo PhD.

All book proceeds from sale of The Longevity Diet will be donated to the non-profit Valter Longo Foundation and Create Cures Foundation to promote and sponsor research on inexpensive, alternative, and integrated therapies for such serious diseases as Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and other diseases, both in adults and children.

The ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet developed by Dr. Longo and his team is the result of 20 years and $26 million in research. Long time readers of this blog know I am a big fan of 3-5 water fasting. If you are intimidated by or unable to do a 3-5 day water fast, the ProLon FMD is a 5-day, plant-based, calorie-restricted ketogenic diet. It’s the next best thing to water fasting, and for some people it might be better… I’ve done it. I highly recommend it. And I plan to do it again. Learn more here.

Selected links from the interview:
Biosphere 2
The Blue Zones
Fasting triggers stem cell regeneration of old and damaged immune system
High protein diets quadruple risk of cancer death
Skipping breakfast increases risk of death by 34-43%
Fasting Mimicking Diet regenerates destroyed insulin-producing beta cells in mice

Additional studies related to fasting and the fasting mimicking diet can be found here.

Dr Longo’s facebook page: www.facebook.com/profvalterlongo

Please LIKE and Share. Add your thoughts below!

I've interviewed over 50 people who've healed all types and stages of cancer. Check them out here. Or use the search bar to find survivors of specific cancer types.

I also created a coaching program for cancer patients, caregivers and anyone who is serious about prevention called SQUARE ONE. It contains the step-by-step strategies used by myself and everyone I know who has healed cancer.

Watch SQUARE ONE Module 1 for free here

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  • Rhonda Ann Godwin

    Thanks, Chris, for this excellent video with Dr. Longo. Have a daughter who basically went on the Atkinson diet this past summer, lost lots of weight, kept on it until she was nearly at death’s door (7 months), hair falling out, organs swollen, etc. I nagged, bought your program and she is back on her way to health again but this video reinforces greatly what I have been telling her. Thanks again for this.

    • Chris Wark

      Yikes! Glad she’s on the right track now. :)

  • prayingforyouall

    I first saw Dr. Longo on a British documentary with Dr. Michael Mosley. They discussed the 5:2 diet. Dr. Mosley was preparing to fast for 4 days. He had several tests done to establish a baseline. He had those same tests repeated at the end of the 4 day fast. I was very interested to see that his IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor-1) test had shown a 50% decrease. It was explained that a reduction could contribute to a decrease in insulin resistance, a decrease in the likelihood of contracting many types of cancer and an increase in metabolism. I was all over it.

    I went to my doctor and tried to convince her to test my IGF-1 and HbA1c, a measure of my glucose/insulin activity for the past 90 or so days. My doctor was skeptical and she insisted that since I didn’t go to medical school, I have no ability to truly understand what any of the test numbers mean. She also insisted that aging is inevitable and nothing can be done to stop or slow aging. SHe didn’t even want to try. I was so insulted. Who wouldn’t be?

    I asked if it was possible to slow aging by keeping our hormones at the same levels they were when we were in our mid-20’s. She laughed and said “Impossible!”. She asked if I ever use the internet to get medical information. She snorted derisively when I told her I do. She said that ONLY sites like Cedar-Sinai Hospital are to be trusted. I was determined to teach her a little humility.

    I did the tests (I had to pay for them because she didn’t think they were necessary) and I fasted for 4 days. It was easy. I was motivated. I had the tests redone after the 4 day fast. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my IGF-1 result had actually increased by 20%. The A1c stayed at 5.2 – no change. She laughed at me and said, “What did I tell you? Now, just do as I say and stop getting medical information off the internet; you’ll be much better off.” She then tried to talk me into using a statin drug and she told me to stop taking more than 400IU of vitamin D. She is no longer my doctor.

    I would like to know why my IGF-1 increased. It does concern me, but I want to do the fast again. I would like to do it with the cooperation of my doctor instead of having to fight my doctor. I am hoping that the book has some information on why the IGF-1 increased.

    Sorry for the length of this post. I suppose I am just so frustrated by the arrogance of the medical business.

    Anyway, I will read the book, do the tests again and give it another try. I’ll update this post when I have something to report (good or bad). Good luck everyone.

  • Ellie the raw dairy farmer

    Thank You so much Chris for the great interview. I wrote to Dr. Longo a few days ago asking for help with my friend, an MD, struggling with recurring stage 4 ovarian cancer. He was so kind and wrote back right way with a protocol to help her.
    I am very healthy but 2 months ago did a 5 days water and Himalayan salt (for mineral) fast after watching the Science of Fasting with Dr. Longo. I did it to see what it was like so I can help my friend struggling with cancer to do it. I agree it is hard for cancer patients, like my friend, to fast…because she is going through so much stress, fear and pain. Then her family (most of them doctors like her) and her Oncologist are all horrified that I (a Biologist and an attorney…not a doctor) would recommend for her to fast before, during and after her schedule low dose chemo. She believes in the benefit of fasting but just could not do it … She does eat clean, about 80% vegetables and fruits, and small amount of animal protein… I bring her bone broth made from my cows raise 100% on clean pasture when she craves animal protein. I think a cancer patient can definitely fast 5 days IF a family member or friend will do it with them. Just like Chris did with his wife. My husband and I did the 5 day fast together and it was much more tolerable because of the support. Unfortunately not many cancer patient and their family understand the wonderful (and miraculous) fasting benefit to make this life saving decision… unless they see THIS interview and watch docu: The Science of Fasting.
    Every cancer patient and every one in the world should see this. THANK YOU CHRIS !!! You are doing such life saving work.

  • Lety Adame

    I also want to Thank you Chris, for another great interview. It opens my eyes and thought about how we eat and what we all should be doing for our kids … Kids futures! I bought your book and the CDs. I try to show everyone that comes over. I know it’s a lot in just a few minutes. But I show the first video, then they’re hooked. Thanks for all your hard work and sharing it with us!

    • Chris Wark

      Thank you for spreading the word Lety!

  • Cindy Lehman

    Very interesting, Chris! I have gone mostly against the grain, though, and do not eat wheat whatsoever. When eating wheat gluten-containing foods, I gain weight easily in the belly and it causes more cravings for me. Dr. Longo’s diet seems very high in carbs and all that pasta would put pounds on me very easily. I do eat rice here and there. I really do not overdo the protein but I do eat red meat, chicken, and fish. I will go meatless about a couple of times per week. I’m 68 years old and feel pretty healthy eating this way – but I have to disagree with all that pasta and wheat gluten, well, for me anyway. I think we all have to experiment and see what works out the best for us. I do not eat sugar – that is a definite no, no! I was really disappointed to hear the doctor state he eats wheat toast for breakfast….

  • David Erickson

    I am a bit confused. He talked about the danger of skipping breakfast and fasting longer than 12 hours and then talks about 5 day fasting and how most people wont do that so they developed the fasting mimic diet of 750 cals per day.
    Can anyone clear this up for me?

    • Herman Schirg

      I’m with you David, a bit confused by that. I’ve been doing an 18 hour fast once a week assuming I was getting the benefits of fasting, now to learn I could be doing more damage. I’m assuming he’s talking about our normal eating patterns (daily) should be 12 hours and then only use the ProLon fast every 6 months or so. Also wondering about the protein. As a bit of “gym rat” we’re always told to eat high protein…I wish he addressed athletics and low protein effects. I guess we keep learning as we go.

    • Chris Wark

      Hi David. The detriment of skipping breakfast applies to people who do it every day for many years. Although the FMD is calorie restricted, it is three meals and it’s only for 5 days every 3-6 months.

  • That was very interesting and I have seen miracles happen when fasting is introduced, .However their was mention of cholesterol several times, which according to many professional people and also in registered medical journals as “of no further concern”. Yet we still hear about cholesterol consistently as a marker of heart health and health in general. I have been told homosytene is a marker for heart disease and that cholesterol is NOT the issue. The world Health Organisation also say the same? So why is cholesterol still focused on so much?? What are your thoughts and have you heard this too?

  • Diane Forest

    What a great interview. I have been looking into a detox or fasting program; am so glad I listened to Dr Longo first. It can get confusing and since I don’t need to lose weight I didn’t want to do a water or juice fast. He cleared up a lot of questions I had.

  • Andrea Carasali

    Excellent interview Chris! I had an oh ***t moment when I learned that skipping breakfast and going over 12 hours from evening until morning meal have such a negative impact on mortality. I’ve been doing both. I am vegan and eat three meals a day. I’m in the process of correcting an autoimmune thyroid condition and looking for another physician to track me. There is much discussion here about cancer but what about autoimmune conditions. I did hear mention briefly by Dr. Longo of destruction autoimmune cells. It sounds his focus and trials have been mainly with cancer? I looked into ProLon. I’m wondering if there is a directory of physicians (or hopefully someone is putting one together) who are willing to track someone like me on this protocol if and when I’m cleared to do it?

  • Susan Higa

    The timeline you provide of the interview are the gems of info a listener would want to rewind back to re-listen. Providing the exact time spots makes it super easy. Plus all the links to all the relevant topics and issues discussed. I’d heard of the Biosphere experiment but only vaguely so the link is great! As are all the other links. It’s like you read the listeners’ minds and anticipated our questions. Much efficiency and common sense. Rare these day. Thank you.

  • Aspergermom

    You must be in such good health Chris, you’re practically glowing:) Good to see what good food can do to our bodies

    • Chris Wark

      Aww thanks!

  • Vanessa the Vegetarian

    I would be very interested if you compiled the answers to your question: if you had to eat the same 3 meals every day what would they be, and put them in a link on your website.

  • Steven Dalglish

    Hi Chris, thanks very much for yet another great and informative interview, I’ll purchase Dr Longo’s book and study the FMD further and put it in to practice, cheers

  • Kristen Park

    I was not happy to hear that Dr. Longo doesn’t recommend intermittent fasting!

    I recently started 5:2 intermittent fasting, which is popular in the UK. It’s 2 days at 500 calories and 5 days of normal eating. I lost 2 pounds in 3 weeks over holidays, and kept it off! It’s the only thing that’s actually worked for weight loss for me. Since then I’ve switched to the Jason Vale “Super Blend Me” challenge, but I’ve had no weight loss. I’ve also tried water fasting and juice fasting, but I put the weight I lost right back on.

    Hopefully moving back to 5:2 to lose another 9 pounds won’t hurt my body. I’m interested in longevity and committed to eating a healthy diet, but I don’t think carrying around the extra 11 pounds is healthy either…