May 30, 2024

Longevity fasting food

As a society, we are conditioned to think that we need three meals a day to be healthy and feel that we ‘cannot go without breakfast’, but this is not true. As humans, we are not designed to be constantly eating and science tells us that fasting, which also reduces inflammation, is hugely beneficial for longevity in numerous ways.

In this blog, we take another point of discussion from a podcast between Dr Tim Pearce and cellular ageing scientist and Founder of Nuchido, Dr Nichola Conlon. They discuss how diet and our gut microbiome can influence our biological age, the foods we SHOULD be eating to enable us to live longer, healthier lives – a diet that is rich in a variety of different types of plants reverses biological ageing – and the foods we should AVOID that are literally ‘killing us faster’ with inflammation.

Learn how to introduce longevity to your aesthetics clinic with a new eLearning course from Dr Tim Pearce, with insight from leading longevity experts: Dr Simisola Elizabeth Oke, Dr Nichola Conlon, and Nurse Chelsey Brown.

What should we eat to maintain longevity?

When discussing what makes up a healthy diet for longevity and improving your biological age, Dr Nichola noted two key factors to consider – what you are eating, and when you are eating.

There are so many different diets available to follow expounded by different nutritional experts – some say ‘count the calories’, others say ‘don’t count the calories’, or ‘go keto’ or ‘high protein’ – and there is a lot of conflicting information in the public domain. What you eat is quite personalised and your genetics impact how you respond to different types of food. Generally, for longevity, Dr Nichola advised taking a common-sense approach and ensuring that you are not eating an inflammatory diet.

An inflammatory diet includes the things we probably already associate with being bad for us – processed foods, sugary foods, and foods high in saturated fats and seed oils – which cause an inflammatory response in the body. Anything driving chronic inflammation will lead to the hallmarks of ageing and ‘inflammageing’.

A diet that is rich in a variety of different types of plants is known to reverse biological age, helping to reduce the hallmarks of ageing. This does not mean going vegan, you can still eat meat, but increase the variety of plant materials you eat. Recommended advice is to eat around 30 different plants per week. This may sound like a lot, but if you break it down, it is quite simple to achieve because plants include everything from different salad leaves and herbs to fruits and vegetables, plus teas also count as plant materials. We can all easily increase the diversity of plant materials that we consume.

By increasing the assortment of plant molecules in your diet, you will have a beneficial effect on the gut microbiome, the plant materials will feed the microbiome – the more varied your diet, the more diverse your microbiome. A very diverse gut microbiome has been shown to positively influence longevity and reduce inflammation across the rest of the body.

Diet as a medicine against ageing

Longevity diet healthy foodAdditionally, plants contain a huge amount of very beneficial molecules for health, like phytochemicals and flavonoids; these are all natural molecules that act similarly to medicines and drugs when in the body.

Dr Nichola explained that during her career in drug development, she saw first-hand that some of the most powerful molecules tested were not typical drug molecules but natural molecules from plants or plant extracts. Because the body cannot differentiate between a plant or drug molecule or one from a supplement, they all have an equally powerful biological effect.

Interestingly, she noted, that when people say that food can be medicine, it is true, it can be because some of those molecules are just as powerful, if not better, than some of the drugs that we currently take daily as a population.

What role does bacteria play in our diet and our gut microbiome?

Dr Nichola described that people have variable absorption capabilities for different types of foods and different molecules depending on the diversity of the bacterial composition of their gut.

Distinct bacteria break down some of our food before it is absorbed and digested. If you have a narrow spectrum of gut bacteria and do not have some of these naturally beneficial bacteria present in your gut, you will not absorb as many of the beneficial molecules from the ingested food. The composition of gut bacteria directly links, not only to our diet but to what we are absorbing from that diet. Bacterial diversity is key.

What is the ZOE body analysis test?

There are now ways to assess gut microbiome alongside other metrics for personalised nutrition, one test mentioned by Dr Nichola and Dr Tim is ZOE.

ZOE analyses the composition of your gut microbiome and what is going on inside your gut – how fast your body can remove sugar when you eat carbohydrates or sugars, and how quickly it can remove triglycerides or fat. Each of these factors will vary in everyone, and the differences between people mean they will respond to different diets in different ways – diet types should not be broadly recommended for this reason as not everyone will suit a keto diet or a high protein diet, for example.

ZOE works by asking you to eat either a cookie or a muffin that has a particular concentration or amount of fat and sugar within the item, based on other data you have provided. At the same time, you wear a continuous glucose monitor on your upper arm that tracks and monitors how your body processes the sugar, and you perform a finger-prick blood test to assess how quickly the fat is removed from your blood.

Dr Nichola shared that her results showed that she removes glucose very slowly which means that she is highly sensitive to sugary food and carbohydrates. Conversely, she rapidly removes fat from her body. These findings show that a keto diet may be more beneficial for her, whereby she would restrict carbs and have more healthy fats in her diet.

Longevity food eating times

Dr Tim on the other hand is poor at metabolising both glucose and fat, which he found disappointing because he had been favouring a keto diet whilst excluding sugars. On reflection, he realised that after a meal high in fats he would often feel very tired. Since the results from the ZOE test, he has switched to a high-fibre diet – lots of fruit and vegetables with olive oil – maintaining low carbs and increasing his protein intake. This diet is now more tolerable, and he can feel the difference, feeling fuller longer and not wanting to go to sleep after a meal.

Comparing their results, Dr Nichola highlighted that she would likely function well eating a block of cheese for her breakfast but if she were to have a banana, it would set off alarm bells in her body, causing more harm and inflammation than eating the high-fat option. Whereas, for Dr Tim, would need to be more conservative in his approach to diet, not favouring too much of one thing to one extreme to provide balance due to his unique biology. She reaffirmed that this is why you cannot recommend one-diet-fits-all approaches to nutrition, encouraging a push towards precision medicine and personalised nutrition, but underlying that everyone should be eating a higher diversity of plant material to benefit their longevity.

When should we eat to maintain longevity?

The next important thing to consider is when we eat. Dr Nichola set about some myth-busting and confirmed that, as humans, we are not designed to be constantly eating.

Our modern lives and society have conditioned us all so we have been brought up to believe that we must have breakfast so we can concentrate and perform well in the morning, have a mid-morning snack to see us through until lunch, then eat lunch, followed by an afternoon snack before eating dinner – thus ensuring that we are eating all the time and conform to three meals a day. This has been somewhat manufactured by the food industry, but our biology is still based on a hunter existence, we may eat and eat well, but then we may go for a good while without eating again.

Constant eating is linked to the hallmarks of ageing which include dysregulated nutrient sensing. Our bodies are designed to cycle between periods of abundance where mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) is switched on and is telling our body that we have got lots of nutrients so it can go ahead and build muscle and put effort into anabolic type mechanisms in our bodies, and periods where we have not got any food because we did not catch anything on the last hunt. This would put our bodies into conserve mode where the AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) pathway is activated to switch on cellular repair and recycling during this fasted state. However, as modern humans who are eating all the time, our bodies have a constant supply of nutrients and we do not need to conserve, we do not need to repair, and these pathways that could be repairing our cells are never activated.

Dr Nichola advocated the importance of going through a period that puts our body under a little bit of energy stress by intermittent fasting. This concept is known within the longevity space as hormesis where a little bit of stress is good for your cells and helps activate beneficial pathways. Dr Tim pointed out that the word ‘stress’ can be perceived as unpleasant, but he believes this is not the case and recommends drinking some green tea when you initially fast to aid your comfort.

What are the benefits of fasting?

Fasting has been shown to reduce inflammation, activate autophagy (the cellular process of cleaning out damaged proteins), and promote cellular repair and rejuvenation. These benefits persist even after the fasting period ends.

For women, a fasting period of around 12 hours (e.g., from 8pm to 8am) is recommended, while men might benefit from fasting for a little longer (i.e., 14-16 hours). These practices are considered achievable and can be easily incorporated into daily routines.

Catch up with more discussions on longevity and ageing as a disease, and reversing biological age and mitochondrial dysfunction: disease, cellular ageing, longevity & aesthetics.

If you have any questions or want to see additional insight, you can find Dr Tim Pearce on Instagram, follow Dr Nichola Conlon on Instagram, or find her cosmetic and regenerative medicine clinic, The Cosmetic Clinic on Instagram.

Aesthetics Mastery Show

You Don’t Need 3 Meals a Day! Why FASTING slows the aging process.

Dr Tim says:

“So many of us feel like we ‘can’t go without breakfast’ and that we need 3 meals a day to be healthy, but this just isn’t true. In fact, science tells us that fasting is hugely beneficial for longevity in numerous ways. In this episode I discuss with cellular aging scientist Dr Nichola how diet can influence our biological age, the foods that we SHOULD be eating to live healthier longer lives, and the foods that are killing us faster.”

Watch the full Aesthetics Mastery Show here.

The video has some great feedback, including:


“I’m a kidney transplant patient (4yrs) and am 68 yrs. Old. I started Omad (fat based) for that same amount of time. My kidney function is the same as it was the day after my tranplant. A1c is 4.8. It is very important to keep your insulin levels low and avoid spikes. High insulin can adversely Affect virtually all of your metabolic markers. I am arguably in the best shape of my life. It is so true that 3 meals a day put constant stress on your body’s organs. Eating less often will reward you 10 times over.”


“I am 58 and I have 1 meal a day most of the time.”


“I am more on 3 meals a day (with 2 days of intermitent fasting each week), but I understand those who are OK with OMAD. It’s good sometimes to feel hunger, and let our body go through a short time of starvation. It’s not a pressure, quite fun actually. Cravings make your feel miserable, far more than hunger.”


“Lower insulin by not eating carbohydrates”


“My husband and I have a landscape maintenance business, so on days I work in addition to my personal gardening (where I grow my own food) and my daily exercise (weight lifting, HIIT, and steady state cardio), I am hungry. I usually eat three times a day and a snack. I’m legitimately hungry. I did the Zoe Predict study when it first came out, and I metabolized both fat and glucose very quickly. I still prick my finger from time to time to check my blood sugar two hours after meals. I think many people simply don’t move enough in a day to be that hungry.”

See more feedback and comments from practitioners and clients on our YouTube channel – feel free to join the debate!

You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel for really useful regular tips and advice.  YouTube


Dr Tim Pearce eLearning

Dr Tim Pearce MBChB BSc (Hons) MRCGP founded his eLearning concept in 2016 in order to provide readily accessible BOTOX® and dermal filler online courses for fellow Medical Aesthetics practitioners. His objective was to raise standards within the industry – a principle which remains just as relevant today.

Our exclusive video-led courses are designed to build confidence, knowledge and technique at every stage, working from foundation level to advanced treatments and management of complications.

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