WORLD HEART DAY

  • by: Fondazione Valter Longo Onlus Editorial Staff
  • September 27th, 2022

by the Fondazion Valter Longo’s Editorial Staff in collaboration with the Create Cures Foundation                    September 25th, 2022

Experts have identified both simple and effective nutritional plans to fight cardiovascular diseases, which can be implemented by most people, without having to face overly drastic changes in their habits.

Clinical Studies

Over the last few decades, ample scientific research has been conducted to identify the most suitable dietary strategies in cases of cardiovascular diseases. Initially, the trials were conducted on Rhesus monkeys, who share 93% of their DNA in common with humans and suffer from our same diseases (diabetes, tumors, and cardiovascular diseases). Two studies analyzed the impact of a 30% calorie restriction on diseases and longevity.

The two studies were carried out at two different institutions: the US National Institute of Aging (NIA) and the University of Wisconsin. The research conducted at the NIA showed no substantial differences in the causes of death (whether they were cardiovascular diseases, amyloidosis, and tumors) and general health deterioration between the group of monkeys subjected to calorie restriction and the control group that followed a ” healthy ” diet (made up of plant-based proteins and fish, plus 5% fat, 5% fiber and 3.9% sucrose, vitamins and minerals – eating only twice a day, with a predetermined amount of food based on age and body weight). In the trial carried out in Wisconsin, however, the monkeys subjected to calorie restriction saw their mortality rate halved compared to the control group that continued to eat “normally” (namely milk proteins, 10% fat, 5% of fiber and 28.5% sucrose – eating as much as they wanted, to exemplify the typical Western diet).

Subsequently, numerous clinical studies were conducted on humans. The first investigations analyzed the Mediterranean diet’s association to a reduced incidence of various diseases, including cardiovascular ones. Some studies have found that consuming olive oil and nuts is associated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular events (heart attack, stroke, etc.). Other research has studied the intake of healthy fats found in vegetables and fish. Later studies then investigated calorie restriction’s relation to reduced inflammatory states and markers associated with cardiovascular disease.

The Positive Effects Of The Fasting-Mimicking Diet

Clinical tests conducted on hundreds of patients have revealed that cycles of fasting-mimicking diet determine positive effects on the main risk factors and markers linked to cardiovascular diseases, especially in subjects that have the highest predisposition. Body fat is reduced, namely abdominal fat, without loss of muscle mass; blood pressure is lowered to adequate levels (- 6 mmHg); fasting blood sugar also drops; triglycerides are reduced (- 25 mg / dl); the “bad” LDL cholesterol drops to normal values ​​(- 20 mg / dl); C-reactive protein levels (associated with inflammation and cardiovascular diseases) are reduced, as well as those of the insulin-like growth factor IGF-1.

Suitable Nutrition In The Presence Of Cardiovascular Pathologies

The following recommendations are the result of many clinical investigations, in which researchers have conducted tests on hundreds of patients, in order to identify a tailor-made dietary strategy aimed at preventing and treating cardiovascular diseases. As far as prevention is concerned, experts recommend following a pescatarian diet, combined with daily physical activity. In addition, with your doctor’s approval it is possible to adopt a fasting-mimicking diet, whose frequency will be based on your state of health. In cases of overt cardiovascular problems, experts recommend implementing the following nutritional strategy: eliminate meat intake (red and poultry) and replace it with fish (2-3 times a week); avoid dairy products; limit your protein intake based on your weight (0.7-0.8 g per kilo/ 0.31-0.36 g per pound per day); eat lots of vegetables and legumes; reduce white pasta and bread, preferring whole grains (less than 100 grams / 3.5 oz per day); consume about one fruit a day; reduce sugar intake to less than 10 g per day; season with raw olive oil (about 80 g / 6 tablespoons per day); consume nuts (about 30 g / ¼ cup per day); consume food within a 11-12 hour window; if your BMI (body mass index) is equal to or greater than 25, and therefore falls within the overweight category, eat twice a day, plus a snack; exercise every day. An important recommendation is to always consult your doctor when considering any dietary strategy. Conventional therapies (drugs and surgery) can be integrated with a specific nutritional plan.

SOURCES
1. Valter Longo, The Longevity Diet, Penguin Random House, 2019
2. Colman RJ et al.; Caloric restriction delays disease onset and mortality in rhesus monkeys; Science 2009 Jul.
3. Colman RJ; Caloric restriction reduces age-related and all-cause mortality in rhesus monkeys; Nature Communications; 2014 Apr.
4. Mattison JA; Impact of caloric restriction on health and survival in rhesus monkeys from the NIA study; Nature 2012 Sep.
5. Sofi F et al.; Accruing evidence on benefits of adherence to the Mediterranean diet on health: an updated systematic rewiev an meta-analysis; The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2010 Nov.
6. Sofi F et al.; Mediterranean diet and health status: an updated meta-analysis and proposal for literature-based adherence score; Public Health Nutrition 2014 Dec.
7. Estruch R et al.; Mediterranean diet for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease; The New England Journal of Medicine 2013 Apr.
8. Bendinelli B; Fruit, vegetables, and olive oli and risk of coronary heart disease in Italian women: the EPOCOR Study; The American Journal Clinical of Nutrition 2011 Feb.
9. Bao Y et al.; Association of nut consumption with total cause-specific mortality; The New England Journal of Medicine 2013 Nov.
10. Fontana L et al.; Long-term calorie restriction is highly effective in reducing the risk for atheriosclerosis in humans; PNAS 2004 Apr.
11. Brandhorst S et al.; A Periodic Diet that Mimics Fasting Promotes Multi-System Regeneration, Enhanced Cognitive Performance, and Healthspan; Cell Metabolism 2015 Jul.

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