The 4 Diets For Long Life

Your Body As a Marvel The human body is a marvel of biological engineering. With it, we can enjoy a mystical sunset, experience the texture of fine silk, or smell the enchantment of a rose in full bloom. With special training, we can learn to do exhilarating barrel rolls in an airplane, or pole-vault to a height three times greater than our own. With more advanced training, we can solve complex mathematical problems, and think more creatively than any computer ever invented. But something that often escapes our attention is this: These amazing bodies of ours were not designed from any blueprint that we ourselves created. And that blueprint, wherever it came from, was here long before the first wheel was ever invented. In other words . . . How we came to exist on this planet, nobody really knows for sure. In an age of continuing improvements in modern technology, with “newer and better” models making their introduction every year, a remarkable fact is that our own bodies have stayed very much the same for the last 100,000 years. The physical body we use to select our dinner choices at the supermarket and ring them out through the computerized checkout counter is exactly the same “model” body our ancient ancestors used to hunt down a woolly mammoth and gather the tinder needed to start a cave-side cooking cooking fire. But one important thing has changed . . .

 Same Body, Different Fuel

Whereas our mammoth-hunting ancestors relaxed to an evening meal of lean roasted meat and fresh-gathered berries, garnished with an assortment of edible leaves and roots—foods found naturally in their environment— those of us today sit down to a much different kind of meal. Our meal also centers around a savory serving of cooked meat. But it is meat compromised by the addition of antibiotics, fed to animals penned up in feedlots and quickly fattened through the use of artificial hormones.

Long Life Secret

 Eat Less in Order to Eat More

“The food from which a man abstains, after he has eaten heartily, is of more benefit to him than that which he has eaten.”

Living in the picturesque Italian town of Padua during the last part of the Renaissance was a well-known and prosperous nobleman. His name was Luigi Cornaro. Until almost the age of forty, Cornaro led what could only be described as an undisciplined, intemperate and truly gluttonous lifestyle. His out-of-control eating habits so sapped his vitality and undermined his health that his alarmed family feared he would not be long for this world. Advised by his doctors to change his unwise eating habits or bring about his own early demise, he adopted a special diet for himself, a restricted food regimen that he became determined to follow from that time forward. In doing so, he brought about a remarkable carriage accident that might have ended the life of a less robust man. Instead, he convalesced for a short time, refusing all but the most basic treatments from his doctors. He was soon back on his feet and regained completely his former vitality. Then, at the ages of eighty-three, eighty-six, ninety-one, and ninety-five, he wrote discourses on how to live a long and healthy life. Seven years after the last of these, he sat one day in his rocking chair, closing his eyes for a nap, and never awakened. He had drifted away peacefully with no discernible signs of pain or suffering. The unusual life of Luigi Cornaro might be just a curiosity of Italian history except for one thing: He attributed his vigorous health and great longevity exclusively to the diet that had earlier saved his life and to which he remained entirely devoted until the day he died. When modern scientists feed laboratory animals a diet similar in principle to Cornaro’s, the animals enjoy vastly improved overall health and their lifespans are extended by up to 50%. These experiments have been repeated many times with many different species, including most recently chimpanzees and other primates. The results are consistently the same regardless of animal species—there is no doubt the diet works to extend life, and in a dramatic way.

Rule #1: Reduce your normal calorie intake by 10-20% per day.

This is known as the principle of calorie restriction. It is what Benjamin Franklin meant when he said, “To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals.” This is an essential key to great longevity. It was a key to long life for Luigi Cornaro and it can be your key to long life as well. Calorie restriction, when it is of the nutrient-rich kind, has been verified many times in animal trials to where its effectiveness in extending life is almost universally accepted.

In his book, The Art of Living Long, Cornaro had his own way of describing the virtues of caloric restriction. He said, “Whosoever wishes to eat much, must eat little.” By this, he meant that eating less at each meal allows you to live longer, and you will end up having many more meals in the long run. In Cornaro’s case, eating less meant a daily regimen consisting of bread, vegetable soup with tomato, an egg, a little serving of meat, and about 14 ounces of fresh spring wine. (Wine that is made from the first pressing and with a low alcohol content). In all, he consumed a total of about 1500 calories per day. But there is no need for your long life diet to be as limited in variety as his. Cornaro restricted his

food choices to only those which fully agreed with him. He did not tolerate fruits very well, for example, and excluded all of those from his diet. Your first step is to get an idea of how many calories you take in each day to maintain your normal weight. Then multiply that number by 80% or 90% to get the new calorie level you wish to achieve. If your best estimate after keeping track is 2250 calories per day, for example, 80% of that would give you a calorie restriction target of 1800 calories per day. For convenience when counting the calorie content of your foods, round off to the nearest five calories for each item. Your daily total doesn’t have to be exact, but you do want to get it correct to the nearest 50 calories

or so. Going by the 80% restriction rule, an 1800 calorie level may be just right for a 170 pound man to start achieving longevity results. But a petite woman weighing only 105 pounds may actually gain weight eating this many calories. Her proper calorie intake may be only 1500 or so. It is important that you not fall below your restricted calorie level on this plan. Losing weight very slowly is the key to achieving the longevity benefit you are seeking. Note: If you are very slender already and your count shows you are eating less than 1800 calories per day, skip Rules #1 and 2, and go on to Rule #3.

If you don’t want to figure your normal calorie intake, there is another approach that will also work. Unless you are already very slender, try eating at the 1800 calorie per day level and see whether that is enough to induce a gradual weight loss of one to two pounds a month. If not, adjust it down accordingly to perhaps 1600 or 1700. If 1800 calories causes you to lose more than 3 pounds the first month, adjust the level upward to 1900-2000. Continue to adjust your calorie intake this way until you are achieving the steady loss of 1-2 pounds per month you need to reach your goal.

Rule #2: Maintain your caloric restriction until you very slowly lose 10-12% of your normal or “set point” weight if you are a woman or 15-18% of your normal weight if you are a man.

Remember a time in your life when you were eating so that you weighed neither too much nor too little. Judge this by how good you looked and also by how that weight made you feel. Consider this as your “set point”, or the weight your body naturally tries to defend and maintain. If you are a woman, have as your calorie restriction target a body weight that is 10-12% less than that. A set point of 120 pounds would give you a goal of somewhere between 108 and 105. Exactly where you level out should be determined by where in that range you look and feel your best. If you are a man, have as your goal a weight that is 15-18% less than your natural set point. If you feel your normal weight is about 180, you

would endeavor to come in at somewhere around 153 to 147, again depending on where you feel your best. Ideally, it should take you at least six to nine months of calorie restriction to reach your new weight. It is very important that you not try to rush this! The Long Life “classic” foods plan is not meant as a crash diet. Even taking as long as a year or a year-and-a-half to arrive at your long life weight is perfectly okay and may actually be optimal in terms of effectively resetting your metabolism. If you try to lose the weight too rapidly, your body may interpret this as the onset of starvation and drastically slow your metabolism as a survival measure.

Remember, you have the same “model” body that your cave-dwelling ancestor had 100,000 years ago, when environments were more difficult, and living conditions more unpredictable and harsh. The energy conserving mechanism that helped your paleolithic ancestor survive a challenging winter is still present in your body today and can be triggered by any sudden drop in calorie intake. So you don’t want your body to think that you are running out of food, only that you are cutting back on your daily intake.

Rule #3: As much as possible, eat only “classic” or “near-classic” foods to make up your calorie total.

As explained more fully in Long Life Secret #2, “classic” foods are the whole, unprocessed, naturally occurring, nutrient-dense, foods that have

or add some raw, unfiltered honey. The moderate use of spices and seasonings are also fine additions to enhance natural flavors. Follow the advise of Luigi Cornaro, and choose only those nutrient-rich foods that fully agree with you. Avoid any that do not agree, no matter how healthy you might otherwise believe them to be.

Surprise: Some “Health Foods” Really Aren’t

Examples of foods that are commonly thought of as health foods but aren’t on the “classic” food list are tofu, energy bars, high-sugar granola, and most store-bought fruit juices that have had the fruit pulp removed or extra ingredients added like sugar or corn syrup. Juicing that you do at home where you are throwing the whole fruit into the blender is fine. There

Examples of foods that are commonly thought of as health foods but aren’t on the “classic” food list are tofu, energy bars, high-sugar granola, and most store-bought fruit juices that have had the fruit pulp removed or extra ingredients added like sugar or corn syrup. Juicing that you do at home where you are throwing the whole fruit into the blender is fine. There

you are only changing the consistency of the fruit and not removing any of the fiber or nutrients. You may be surprised to see tofu listed here as a less than desirable food. It is, after all, a staple in many vegetarian diets. Studies have implicated many processed soy products with a certain type of mental deterioration that occurs in middle-age if these are eaten for a long period of time. Eating whole or sprouted soybeans is fine, however, as those are nutritionally complete and confer many health benefits in a long life diet.

 Another Look at “The Staff of Life”

For bread, it is recommended that you select sprouted whole-grain breads. These breads are made from organic sprouted grains, and have a

hearty texture and delicious taste you won’t grow tired of. Because they are composed of nutrient-dense sprouted grains, you may see these breads also referred to as flour-less breads. These are more desirable than breads made from flour, because their vital nutrients haven’t been lost or diminished through excessive milling or refining. Their main ingredients are sprouted grains, yeast, and sea salt. You can find them in your health food store under the brand names Ezekiel or Essene. You may recognize these as biblical names and their recipes have in fact been passed down generation to generation through the centuries. You will also find recipes on the Internet if you like to make your own breads.

Sprouted breads freeze very well, so you can stock up with a half-dozen loaves or more when they go on sale. Adding to the convenience is that these breads taste best when toasted, so they can go from your refrigerator straight into the toaster. Refined flour is basically a “wrecked” food. The milling process destroys the structure of the grain kernel, causing the loss of many vital nutrients. Most brands of refined flour bread also have undesirable added ingredients such as saturated oils, refined sweeteners, and chemical preservatives. Eating a sour-dough bread occasionally or a whole wheat or whole rye bread made from a sour-dough starter won’t harm you from a long life standpoint. They would be classified as “near-

classic” foods. Those breads, although good for you, are not as optimal in nutrition as the sprouted breads. What we are looking for is the most “bang per calorie” as far as great nutrition is concerned. In this regard, the sprouted breads that don’t contain milled flour are distinctly better for you. Living In Romania Notice that Rule #3 says to eat “classic” or “near-classic” foods as much as possible. If you lived on a farm in Romania, it would be a lot simpler to find and eat only naturally occurring “classic” foods. In fact, those are the kinds of foods most people ate virtually everywhere in the world as recently as a hundred years ago, when heart disease and

cancer were far less common than they are today. In this ideal rustic environment today, you would be living in the equivalent of 19th century America with no pizza parlors or fast burger places in sight, and with an abundance of fresh harvested grains, wholesome meat and dairy products, and healthy fruits and vegetables as your main food staples. Living in the modern industrialized world today, things are going to be more challenging, not because you can’t find “classic” foods, but because there are so many tempting (and distinctly unhealthy) food choices distracting you and competing for the attention of your taste buds. You will need to side-step that vast minefield of entertaining but health-depleting foods found virtually everywhere in society and seek out

healthier alternatives that support your long life strategy and are still enjoyable to eat. This does not mean you can never enjoy your favorite plate of spaghetti with meatballs and Parmesan cheese, or the warm bread and butter appetizer. Or the Spumoni ice cream afterward. From a longevity standpoint, it’s okay to have something like that on occasion. You will need to count it as part of your daily calorie total and maybe cut back on your food intake the next day to keep your average calorie intake on track. The idea is that you should strive for 90-95% of your diet to be made up of foods from the “classic” categories. Even if 5-10% of your calorie intake comes from conventional treats or less healthy food, you can still reach your long life potential. The trick is limiting

limiting the unhealthy food choices to a small part of your overall diet.

Preventing the “Sugar Blues”

At the head of a list of foods that should be avoided whenever possible are refined sweeteners in all their forms. These seemingly harmless substances should be avoided like Grandma’s belladonna, even though many of us find creative ways to give in to temptation more often than we should. The subtle and numerous ways in which processed sugar assists in undermining our health makes for a major discussion in itself. William Dufty’s Sugar Blues is a classic expose on the havoc refined sugar has on our mental as well as physical health. If you have a hard-to-control sugar habit, you may find his book very enlightening

enlightening as well as an entertaining read. Create Your Own Long Life Menu With the Long Life “classic” foods diet, you are free to make up any meals you like, using the foods that appeal to you the most. The only guidelines are that most of the food choices you include should be of the “classic” or “near-classic” type. Also, choose a variety of different foods over the course of a day, and (as discussed earlier) try to choose the foods that completely agree with you. Don’t eat something your body is not happy with just because you think it might be healthy for you. This important point was something Luigi Cornaro emphasized in his discourses on long life.

Rule #4: Once you have gradually reached your new “long life” weight through nutrient-dense calorie restriction, level off at that weight by slowly increasing your caloric intake by 100-200 calories per day more than before.

This will cause you to stop losing the 1-2 pounds per month you had been steadily losing, and bring you in for a “soft landing” at your desired weight. If you find yourself starting to gain back some of the weight you have lost, reduce your calorie intake again until your weight levels off. Once you have engineered the “soft landing” at your new Long Life ideal weight, it is time for you to fully appreciate your more energetic, healthier, and more youthful looking body.


You are now eating the best quality foods that nature can provide. Even the wealthiest people on the planet cannot eat a healthier diet than the one you are now enjoying. What’s more, now you won’t have to spend time poring over labels looking for unhealthy chemical additives, or becoming anxious about strange new ingredients the food industry is always plying us with. You will be far ahead of your contemporaries when it comes to attaining optimal health and enjoying the leading edge of what longevity science can offer us. If giving up the “junk” food choices you’ve been used to feels like depriving yourself of all your favorite foods, then most likely you have been relying on food as a source of entertainment in your life.

The “classic” foods are enjoyable to eat as well, and once you become accustomed to them, have the bonus of providing the premium nourishment that leads to radiant health and longer life.

 A Price We Must Pay

We know the facts of how Luigi Cornaro cured himself of his ailments and lived to an enviable old age in remarkably good health. But to do so, he had a personal price to pay. He could no longer indulge in the pleasurable pastime of eating all he wanted or revel in prolonged feasting as many of his fellow countrymen did. His reward was to outlast his contemporaries by many years, and not fall prey to the illnesses from which so many of them eventually suffered.

Today our challenges in this regard are more diverse and, in some ways, more difficult. We have business lunches to attend and church socials to go to. There’s Thanksgiving dinner with the family where stuffing ourselves is not only permitted, it’s almost expected to prevent hurt feelings. We have Saturday night out for steak dinner, and Monday night football with beer and pizza. We have Big Macs and fries at McDonald’s to keep the kids happy, or when we need lunch and don’t have time for anything else. We have airline snacks on the flight to San Francisco and something great to eat from room service when we get back to the hotel at midnight.

The point is that we will only get out of the Long Life diet what we decide to put into it. There is a clearly defined price to pay if we want to succeed, and there is sadly no getting out of paying that price, if very long life is our goal. Do we want to eat and drink what we like, lead a full social life with all the dietary pitfalls that go along with that, and then depart this life in our sixties or seventies as is often the case? Many of us do, in fact, choose this for ourselves. Perhaps not consciously, but we make a choice as expressed through our personal actions regarding diet and lifestyle. Or, like Luigi Cornaro, should we trade eating all we want for an opportunity to lead a healthier, possibly illness-free life right up to our ninety-

fifth or hundredth birthday, enjoying all that life has to offer in ways other than eating rich food?

The Good News

If you choose to adopt the Long Life “classic” foods diet, it will take only 21 days to become accustomed to this new way of eating, and you may find yourself enjoying the new way more than the old. Behavioral scientists tell us it takes 21 days to form a new habit. That’s how long it takes for your taste buds to acclimate to the more natural tasting foods on the Long Life diet. After that, this new way of eating will become second nature, and you may find that your old fat-and-sugar laden favorites are not as satisfying if you go back to them.

The good news is this: What Luigi Cornaro ate was not just the Long Life diet, but rather, his version of it. You will be creating your own version, made up of foods that appeal naturally to you.

The Art of Making Changes Slowly

Mark Twain once said, “Bad habits were not meant to be thrown out the window all at once, but coaxed down the stairs one step at a time.” If you don’t feel you can change your diet all at once, you can take different parts of the diet and gradually incorporate them until they seem like second nature. It may take six months or a year to change over

completely. By then, you will have solidly planted the new habits into your life and be reaping their benefits from then on. When it comes to making lifestyle changes, and especially when changing your eating habits, persistence is the key to success. Persistence is one of those words that, when put into action, can bring tremendous rewards. It means, “showing a strong inclination not to give up.” It was what St. Augustine meant when he said, “Time and I against any other two.” By showing persistence in adopting this life-enhancing diet, putting time, and eventually success, on your side is exactly what you will be doing.

Hopefully, you will discover that the eventual rewards greatly outweigh the effort involved. Optional: Choose Your Own Level of Caloric Restriction

The rules outlined in this chapter are for obtaining maximum life extension benefits. If cutting back 20% seems too large a sacrifice to make, you can still reap health and longevity rewards by choosing a 15% or even a 10% calorie reduction. Whatever you feel you can accomplish will make a contribution towards fewer age-related illnesses. The amount of calorie restriction on the plan should never exceed 20%. More than that will cause too rapid a weight loss and turn the program into a crash diet. It is important to eat enough calories to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients you need to remain healthy. Also, you will want to be careful not to lose more than 12% of your set-point weight if you are a woman or more than 18% of your set- point weight if you are a man. Just as the Long Life diet is not a crash diet, it is also not a starvation diet. You want to lose weight very slowly until you reach your percentage target, then level off from there. Note: A calorie restricted diet is not advisable during pregnancy, and should not be done with children while they are still growing. Also, if you have an existing medical problem, it is advised that you consult your doctor or health

care professional before proceeding with the diet.