Change your diet, extend your life | Dr. Morgan Levine
Diet is a behavior that has a significant impact on aging and longevity, according to Dr. Morgan Levine, a former Yale professor and author of “True Age”. In this insightful and thought-provoking video, Dr. Levine discusses the three key components of diet that can influence the aging process: the quantity of food we eat, the quality of the food we consume, and the timing of our meals.
Firstly, Dr. Levine delves into the concept of caloric restriction, which has been linked to increased lifespans in several animal models. However, she discusses that the positive effects may actually arise from avoiding overeating, rather than strict calorie restriction. Subsequently, she highlights the importance of consuming a plant-based diet with less animal products and refined sugars, and more fruits, vegetables, and whole foods, which has been shown to have a positive impact on aging and longevity.
Finally, Dr. Levine discusses the emerging field of fasting and its potential to replicate the benefits of caloric restriction by causing ‘hormesis’, which bolsters biological resilience to aging-related changes. She emphasizes that the optimal diet is likely unique to each individual and should be monitored through measures of biological age and personal well-being.
With her expertise in bioinformatics, cellular biology, complex systems, and biostatistics, Dr. Levine offers a compelling case for the role of diet in the aging process. Her insights provide a roadmap for individuals to understand the impact of their diet on their own aging and longevity, paving the way for personalized dietary interventions in the future.
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– Diet is the behavior that’s been studied the most in terms of trying to affect things like aging and longevity- and what scientists end up leaning on is what we call ‘epidemiological’ or observational data. They compare the diets that different people eat, and then they look at the features of those people
Using things like biological aging or disease risk or life expectancy. Do certain diets tend to correlate with certain outcomes? There are really three components of diet that seem to be impacting aging: So the first is how much we eat, the second is what we eat, and the third is when we eat.
So in terms of how much we eat, a lot of science went into this idea of caloric restriction. Caloric restriction isn’t starvation. It’s usually just about a 20% reduction in the overall calorie intake. In a lot of different animal models, so anything from a worm, fly, mouse,
People have seen that when animals are caloric restricted, they tend to live longer. When trying to figure out if something like caloric restriction is actually beneficial to the aging process in terms of slowing aging, one caveat is that humans today are not at baseline; we’re actually more prone to overeating.
So some researchers have figured out that it might not be the caloric restriction that’s actually the beneficial thing. So even if you can’t restrict your calories, just moving away from overeating is probably gonna have a beneficial effect for most people. The other thing that’s been studied is this concept of what we eat.
A lot of research has gone into whether things like a plant-based diet are actually beneficial to aging and longevity. And there seems to be some evidence that eating less animal products, more fruits and veggies, more whole foods is gonna be better overall; and also minimizing things like refined sugars,
And the things that we know are bad for our health. The third comes down to when we eat, and this is really a new field in aging and longevity science. So again, most people aren’t gonna be able to calorically restrict, but what scientists found is actually fasting can mimic some of the benefits
That we’ve seen with caloric restriction. So if people can perhaps minimize their eating to a small window, we think that this can actually recapitulate a lot of the benefits that we’re seeing in the caloric restriction studies. The idea of why things like caloric restriction or fasting might actually improve our aging process
Is because we think this evokes this idea of ‘hormesis’ in our bodies. What hormesis refers to is a mild stressor that actually makes our bodies more resilient and robust to stress over time. So having these short-term mild stressors, whether it be fasting or whether it be a small caloric deficit,
Actually makes our bodies more resilient against a lot of the changes we see that increase with aging. It’s not that easy to figure out what the optimal or ideal diet is for each of us, and we don’t know exactly how things, like genetics, are going to predispose people to different diets,
But one way to do this is to keep track of things like our biological age measures to see how our diet is affecting us. So if you were to completely change your diet or introduce something like intermittent fasting, do you see that reflected in your measures?
The other things are just, functionally, how you’re feeling. So people who are older and more prone to things like muscle loss or weakness might actually need more protein than people who are younger, where science has shown that a low protein diet might be beneficial. So it’s important to keep in mind
That these things aren’t set in stone, and really need to be considered on a personalized basis. As we move forward in the science and develop more of these biomarkers of aging, I think this will really start to accelerate our understanding of how diet impacts the aging process. Our lifestyle and our behaviors
Are actually gonna be the biggest contributors to how fast we’re aging. – Get smarter, faster with videos from the world’s biggest thinkers. To learn even more from the world’s biggest thinkers, get Big Think+ for your business.
Author Video Description
Former Yale professor Morgan Levine shares 3 ways to change your diet to extend your life.
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Dr. Morgan Levine, author of “True Age,” explains how the impact of diet on aging and longevity is determined by three factors: quantity, quality, and timing of food intake.
First, caloric restriction, typically a 20% reduction in overall calorie intake, has been linked to increased lifespan in several animal models. However, the positive effects may stem from avoiding overeating rather than restriction per se. Second, a plant-based diet, with less animal products and refined sugars and more fruits, veggies, and whole foods, seems beneficial for aging and longevity. Third, fasting, or limiting eating to specific time windows, might mimic the benefits of caloric restriction by causing ‘hormesis’, mild stressors that boost resilience to aging-related changes.
The optimal diet is likely individual, influenced by factors like genetics and age, and should be monitored through measures of biological age and personal well-being. Future research into aging biomarkers could further our understanding of diet’s role in the aging process.
0:00 Does diet affect aging?
0:35 #1 Caloric restriction
1:40 #2 What you eat
2:07 #3 When you eat: fasting
2:38 Hormesis: Building biological resilience
3:16 What is the optimal diet for you?
Read the video transcript ► https://bigthink.com/series/great-question/aging-and-diet
About Morgan Levine:
Morgan Levine was previously a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the department of Pathology at Yale University where she ran the Laboratory for Aging in Living Systems. In 2022, she was recruited to join Altos Labs as a Founding Principal Investigator at the San Diego Institute of Science. She currently leads a research group at Altos Labs working at the intersection of bioinformatics, cellular biology, complex systems, and biostatistics with the overall goal of understanding the molecular trajectories aging cells, tissues, and organisms take through time.
Read more of our stories on aging:
Aging gratefully: Will you be happier in old age? ► https://bigthink.com/neuropsych/happiness-old-age/?utm_source=youtube&utm_medium=video&utm_campaign=youtube_description Blood test can calculate your true biological age ► https://bigthink.com/health/calculate-your-biological-age/?utm_source=youtube&utm_medium=video&utm_campaign=youtube_description The brain undergoes a great “rewiring” after age 40 ► https://bigthink.com/neuropsych/great-brain-rewiring-after-age-40/?utm_source=youtube&utm_medium=video&utm_campaign=youtube_description
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Video “Change your diet, extend your life | Dr. Morgan Levine” was uploaded on 06/16/2023 to Youtube Channel Big Think