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Longevity Expert Says Avoid Eating the "Poisonous 5 Ps" If You Want to Live to 100

He's opening up about what he's learned about the best diet for living longer.

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Many of us are convinced the path to long life is paved with what we eat every day. Perhaps you've started following the food secrets of the longest-living people, or you've tried your hand at the "world's healthiest breakfast." But long life could also be about what you don't eat. In a new interview with The New York Times, Valter Longo, PhD, professor of gerontology and director of the University of South California's (USC) Longevity Institute, opened up about what he's learned about longevity by studying his home country of Italy. Read on to discover the "poisonous 5 Ps" Longo says you should avoid eating if you want to live to 100.

RELATED: People Who Live to 100 Have These 3 Things in Common, New Research Shows.

Many Italians have lived to be over 100.

Mature husband and wife hugging and smiling at home

Italy is known for having one of the world's oldest populations. In fact, the city of Sardinia, Italy, was the first of the five Blue Zones to be discovered. (The Blue Zones are the parts of the world where the most people live to 100 or longer.)

"For studying aging, Italy is just incredible," Longo, who runs a lab at a cancer institute in Milan, told The New York Times. "It's nirvana."

The 56-year-old grew up in the city of Genoa but often visited his grandparents in Molochio, another part of Italy known for its high number of centenarians. As a result of his background and research since, Longo has become dedicated to learning how people can age well.

"I want to live to 120, 130. It really makes you paranoid now because everybody's like, 'Yeah, of course you got at least to get to 100,'" he said. "You don't realize how hard it is to get to 100."

RELATED: 116-Year-Old Woman With No Major Health Issues Reveals Her Longevity Diet.

But Longo is worried about the rise of the "five poisonous Ps."

A close-up of a table at an Italian restaurant with pasta and wine.
Yulia Grigoryeva / Shutterstock

One of the major factors that has aided Italy's aging population throughout history is diet, according to Longo. Specifically, the original Mediterranean diet that he said has largely become lost to most modern Italians.

"Almost nobody in Italy eats the Mediterranean diet," Longo told the NYT.

Instead, the modern Italian diet is mostly composed of cured meats, layers of lasagna, and fried vegetables, which Longo considers to be "horrendous and a source of disease."

The longevity expert is particularly worried about what Italian children are eating these days—noting that many are battling obesity due to the "poisonous five Ps": pizza, pasta, protein, potatoes, and pane (Italian for bread).

RELATED: World's Longest-Living Family Reveals the Lunch They Eat Every Day.

He is encouraging people to go back to the original Mediterranean diet.

Mackerel fish stew with pan-fried

Longo is advocating for longer and better living through eating the plant- and nut-based diet he created, called Lite Italian.

"It's very similar to the original Mediterranean diet, not the present one," Romina Cervigni, PhD, resident nutritionist at Longo's private foundation based in Milan, told the NYT.

Longo details more of his longevity diet for adults on his website.

"Eat mostly vegan, plus a little fish, limiting meals with fish to a maximum of two or three per week," he states in his guidelines. "Consume beans, chickpeas, green peas, and other legumes as your main source of protein."

The longevity expert also encourages faux-fasting.

fad dieting with an empty plate, pea on empty plate, aging quicker

Longo has also released The Longevity Diet, which he describes as a "clinically tested diet program, based on decades of research, to fight disease, maintain an ideal weight, and live a longer and healthier life."

This program focuses on his everyday Lite Italian diet, along with "five-day periods of fasting-mimicking diet you will implement four times a year."

The combination of Longo's plant- and nut-based diet with supplements and kale crackers that mimic fasting allow cells to shed harmful baggage and rejuvenate without actually starving, he told the NYT.

Longo encourages adults to also follow what is often referred to as intermittent fasting for his longevity diet.

"Confine all eating to within a twelve-hour period; for example, start after 8 a.m. and end before 8 p.m.," he states on his website. "Don't eat anything within three to four hours of bedtime."

Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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