Knights crusaded for centuries while searching for the Holy Grail, the Fountain of Youth. Professor Valter Longo believes he has found a faster and more scientific road to a long and healthy life: fasting.
Professor Longo PhD was born in Genoa, Italy, one of the healthiest regions in the world. He then moved to live and study in the United States, one of the unhealthiest nations on the planet.
The Longevity Diet is a distillation of his life’s work, resolving what he believes has caused the gap in life expectancies and levels of chronic illness rates between his country of birth and his adopted homeland.
His thesis, backed by years of diligent cell biology research, is that diet is the prevailing cause and, therefore, diet is the most effective cure for diseases ranging from diabetes, cancer and heart failure to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
His advice for a long life is to maintain a prescribed, predominately plant-based diet with intermittent fish consumption, and then to adopt what he calls a “Fasting Mimicking Diet” periodically, much as practicing Muslims do during Ramadan or faithful Christians do during Lent.
The Fasting Mimicking Diet is now a product, a line of supplements and packaged foods, sold in the US by a company named ProLon. It is important to read Longo’s book in this context, but he does state that he does not personally profit from the company, and that it is simply a vessel to funnel more funds into research.
More research is needed because Longo’s radical claims have not been accepted entirely yet by the medical establishment, and he both accepts this and urges caution to readers: do not take your health into your own hands, particularly if you are suffering from a severe condition.
For every claim that Longo makes, he supports it with data, research and evidence from clinical trials. While this might sound like it will be inaccessible, he explains his theory with precision and humour.
At times, he does allow his own ego to infiltrate the work. There is a little too much discussion of his thwarted ambitions to be a rock star.
The Longevity Diet could potentially offer hope to the chronically ill and clarity to those befuddled by fad diets. If you think that all the answers have arrived though, not so fast; there is still much work to be done.
Reviewed by James Murphy
Rating out of 10: 7
Distributed by: Penguin Random House Australia
Released: January 2018
RRP: $29.99 trade paperback, $9.99 eBook