Plant-based diet, a little protein and enough exercise lead to long life, USC professor says

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A USC professor spent 30 years looking at what makes us live long and healthy and he found the answer - plant foods with a little fish and enough exercise. (KABC)

USC professor Dr. Valter Longo spent about 30 years looking at aging, nutrition and disease with some interesting results.

Research indicates our everyday diet should be plant based with a few fish servings weekly, then about five fasting days, three to four times per year to extend life. This periodic fast activates, regenerates and protects stem cells while reducing damage like inflammation.

"People with high cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, high fasting glucose - the pre diabetic show major improvements," said Longo, who wrote The Longevity Diet.

In his lab you'll see thin energetic rats on such a diet and they are expected to live a year longer than the others, without disease.

Beyond mice, Longo looks at diet and lifestyle of people who live the longest - like people from Okinawa, Sardinia, and a small population in Ecuador. The common denominator: None eat a high-sugar or protein diet.

They do however eat a moderate amount of good quality carbohydrates.

"In most cases people who have a high protein diet don't do very well. I favor a very specific carbohydrate, eat a lot of legumes and vegetables. Those are the good carbohydrates," he said.

He likes a ratio of 60 percent good carbs, 30 percent healthy fats and 10 percent protein.

Longo brings up an important point: The more good food you choose, the more food you can eat. You can still eat fats like pesto, or starches like pasta. But if you add that to loads of produce then you get more nutrients, you get more fiber and you're going to feel more full.

He also wants you to train your body to eat within a 12-hour day, which acts as a temporary "fast" overnight.

"Go much longer. You may get metabolic or sleep disorders - 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. - that's a good rule," Longo said.

When it comes to movement, studies suggest aiming for two and a half hours of moderate exercise weekly with a few rigorous bouts thrown in.
Related Topics:
foodhealthfood coachCircle of Healthdietexerciselifestylescienceuscstudy
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