Why it’s important to eat what your ancestors did, reveals Dr Valter Longo

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Risk of mortality in illnesses like Covid-19 increases with age, but nutrition can play a big role in slowing the ageing process and reducing risk of several diseases.

“Nutrition is the most powerful way to alter how fast we age or whether we get diseases like diabetes, neuro-degenerative illness or heart diseases,” says Dr Valter Longo, Biogerontologist & Cell Biologist while speaking during the third day of the 19th edition of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on December 2.

Dr Valter Longo, an Italian-American, a biogerontologist and cell biologist is known for his studies in the field of longevity and healthy eating. He is also the author of the book The Longevity Diet which is a bestseller.

ALSO READ: Children can follow Mediterranean diet, must be regulated: Valter Longo

On being asked if race and ethnicity play a role in how a certain diet affects our body, Longo said that eating what our ancestors would have eaten is very important to stay away from health problems.

“We have thousands and thousands of diets for thousands of different people. If in your family somebody has celiac disease and you have genetic predisposition (to it), you might not be able to eat any bread or any food that has gluten in it. If you are a Japanese or Southern Italian, you are likely to be lactose intolerant. I think it is very important what your parents and grandparents were eating all the time and what was it that they were eating and it did not bother them. It is about looking for a longevity diet and at the equivalent of what your grandparents ate,” said Longo.

Longo also spoke in detail about a diet programme that mimics fasting and tricks your body into thinking you are fasting while you are eating certain foods. The diet Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD) is believed to bring the benefits of fasting while helping you avoid all the problems from hunger pangs to headaches that are associated with fasting.

“People don’t realise that there are a lot of side effects of fasting. If at some point you fast for too long, your metabolism can come down. It is not about fasting and eating, it’s about how you eat and how you fast,” says the renowned cell biologist.

FMD is a diet consisting of mainly plant-based ingredients. It is recommended five days a month and promises to improve diabetes and CVD (cardiovascular disease) risk factors in people who are obese and overweight. People with healthy weight need not go for this diet, says Longo.

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