Dr. Valter Longo on Resetting Autoimmunity and Rejuvenating Systems with Prolonged Fasting & the FMD
This podcast is a spectacular round two podcast with Dr. Valter Longo. Dr. Longo is the current director of the longevity institute at the University of Southern California and also director of the Oncology and Longevity Program at the Institute of Molecular Oncology Foundation in Milan, Italy. Dr. Longo’s research focuses understanding the biological mechanisms that regulate the aging process, the role of fasting and diet in longevity and healthspan in humans as well as metabolic fasting therapies for the treatment of human diseases.
In this episode, we discuss...
- What two seminal studies on chronic caloric restriction in primates from the 80s teach us about caloric restriction as a preventer of age-related disease, and how the effects of caloric restriction may actually be stronger when the diet that is being restricted is an unhealthy one – similar, in some ways, to the typical western diet.
- How certain macronutrients influence the insulin/IGF-1/growth hormone axis interact to modulate aging in many cell types.
- How mice and humans who have growth hormone receptor deficiencies have low circulating IGF-1 – as little as 10% of normal levels – and have reduced risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes, and age-related cognitive decline, hinting at what future research might reveal about the beneficial effects of prolonged fasting and fasting-mimicking diets through the downstream effects of periodic deprival of growth-related factors.
- How the growth hormone / IGF-1 axis got a big boost early on in scientific interest when it was revealed that mice that have either deficiency in growth hormone itself or the growth hormone receptor live up to 40% longer and how this is accomplished through what is essentially a delaying of the decrepitudes of old age.
- The origins of what Dr. Longo calls the fasting-mimicking diet – a 5-day diet focused on recapitulating some of the benefits of prolonged fasting, like dramatic changes in metabolic biomarkers, but without some of the drawbacks like reduced compliance and other risks that can come with multiple days of grueling strict water fasting in large, heterogeneous populations.
- How periodic prolonged fasting or the fasting-mimicking diet may be able to render cancer cells more vulnerable while conferring stress resistance to healthy cells, a quality known as differential stress resistance. This can happen because of the way fasting interferes with what is known as oncogenic signaling.
- The mixed results associated with the use of the ketogenic diet in treatment of cancer and how some cancers seem to be hurt by the metabolic switch of utilizing ketone bodies, which creates oxidative stress from the use of mitochondria, while other cancers seem to be able to use ketones effectively as an energy source, potentially accelerating their growth.
- Some of the early but promising pre-trial clinical anecdata suggesting potential complementary roles for the ketogenic diet and the fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) used in conjunction with conventional treatments like chemotherapy or radiotherapy for certain cancers like gliomas.
- In the context of aging, how the fasting mimicking diet has been shown to “reset” metabolism, driving down biomarkers associated with poor metabolic health, inflammation, and cardiovascular health.
- How fasting, through the shrinking and then re-expansion of whole systems like the liver, kidneys, heart, and immune cells may represent a type of whole-system renewal that originated as a three-billion-year-old self-repair mode that was only activated during periods of famine or inconsistent food availability, but might now be dormant in people living in a modern world of regular food intake.
- How Dr. Longo’s group has shown that, in animal models of multiple sclerosis and pharmacologically-induced type 1 diabetes, several cycles of the fasting-mimicking diet is able to reverse disease and restore healthful function. This mechanism also may generalize to erasing other diseases of autoimmunity through the destruction of autoimmune immune cells that are essentially reset through fresh differentiation from progenitors untainted by autoimmunity. A very exciting area of continued inquiry!
- How shorter fasts may fail to approach some of the effects of periodic fasting and the fasting-mimicking diet by failing to achieve adequate glycogen depletion and ketogenesis.
- Dr. Longo’s “top picks” for assessing biological age – markers a person can ask their doctor to measure to gauge how well they’re aging.
- A sneak peek at what’s covered in Dr. Longo’s new book, The Longevity Diet.
… and so much more. Go to the timeline on the episode page to see a full breakdown.
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