The body adjusts its rate of aging in response to environmental cues. Most influential is diet. The story I have told is that
- The body decies whether food is plentiful (for pregnancy and childrearing) by sensing nutrition and body fat.
- The body decides either “reproduce and die” or “hang in there and live longer”.
- The medium for transferring the information is the metabolism of insulin, the pancreatic hormone that controls blood sugar.
- Insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes) is a primary mode of aging.
- Sugar and starches quickly become sugar in the blood. Fat and fiber slow the absorption of sugar.
- Fasting, exercise and foods with a low glycemic index contribute to better insulin sensitivity and longer life.
Glycemic index (GI) is supposed to be a measure of how rapidly a food is turned into sugar in the blood. But as I have been reading about GI this week, the story gets muddier and muddier. Glycemic index as reported is not a good measure of the body’s insulin response. In fact, insulin response in some studies was found to have no relationship whatever to GI! Combinations of food turn out to be very important. Fiber and fats can be helpful, and there is a new category I have learned about recently called “resistant starch” which slows the absorption of other foods that are digested along with it. Can drinking water with food slow digestion? (I last blogged about this subject 2 years ago.)
The idea of “negative calorie” foods is very appealing. Are there things that you can eat that actually make you thinner? Are there foods that decrease the insulin impact of a meal, or that lead to lower absorption of food that is eaten together at the same meal?
Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load
Glycemic Index was conceived as a characteristic of food ingredients, something that could be reported on a label. The way it is supposed to work is that low GI foods are better, especially for diabetics, but preserving insulin sensitivity is a concern for all of us as we age. Glycemic Load (GL) was supposed to be equal to the glycemic index times the portion size. But instead, the insulin response to food has turned out to be just as complicated as it can be
- different people respond differently to the same food
- the same person responds differently at different times
- eating twice as much of a sugar or starch does not double the glycemic load (as was presumed in the early studies)
- combinations of food cause a different response from the foods separately
Insulin is a signal to the body that “we have all the sugar we need, thank you. Take your calories and turn them to fat.” Insulin causes fat storage. Insulin is associated with weight gain. Weight gain and insulin resistance, together and independently, contribute to mortality risk.
Inscrutability of Tables of Glycemic Index and Load
I knew that Glycemic Index (GI) was designed to measure the surge in blood sugar that comes from eating a particular food. It was my naive expectation that sugar would have the highest GI, then starches, then whole grains, then beans, then nuts. I thought that greens and fish and meat would have very low GI. But the GI reference table confounded my expectations on every score.
The glycemic load [GL] is calculated by multiplying the number of grams of carbohydrates in a given food by its glycemic index [GI] (which measures how quickly the food is converted into glucose and released into the bloodstream). The glycemic load is an accurate measure of how much insulin your body will have to produce to neutralize the carbohydrates in a given food. [LEF magazine]
Turns out that this very common-sensical statement is far from true. The first thing I had to learn is that GI is not standardized by energy value of the food, but by grams of carbohydrate. Say a peanut is being compared to a potato. The potato is almost all carb, but the peanut is only ⅕ carb. So when they compare the glycemic response head-on-head, they compare 50 grams of potato with 250 grams of peanuts. Of course, this is going to make the peanut’s GI look bad. The GL is supposed to correct for this, multiplying by a “standard portion”, but the whole idea of a “standard portion” is dubious.
By this same definition, meats and salad oils have an undefined GI. This is not because they produce no glycemic response, but because they contain no carbs, so the GI measurement protocol is undefined.
Here is a table from Harvard Medical school, the top one that came up in a Google search. In my experience, it is no more or less unfathomable than others. For example:
- Banana cake without sugar has a higher GI than banana cake with sugar. But it has a lower GL.
- Cannd chick peas have a GI of 38, while dry cooked chick peas have a GI of 10
- Unsweetened Apple Juice has a GL twice as high as Coca Cola (30 vs 16) even though Apple Juice has a lower GI (44 vs 63)
- Whole milk has a higher GI than skim milk (41 vs 32)
Perhaps you can explain the higher GI of whole milk if you assume that cream is finding a pathway to be burned as fuel within two hours. And the low score for Coca Cola might have to do with burning sugar in response to cafeine. But there are too many questionable numbers in this table for me to have any faith in it.
How is GI measured?
The GI value of a food is determined by feeding 10 or more healthy people a portion of the food containing 50 grams of digestible (available) carbohydrate and then measuring the effect on their blood glucose levels over the next two hours. For each person, the incremental area under their two-hour blood glucose response (glucose iAUC) for this food is then measured. On another occasion, the same 10 people consume an equal-carbohydrate portion of glucose sugar (the reference food) and their two-hour blood glucose response is also measured. A GI value for the test food is then calculated for each person by dividing their glucose iAUC for the test food by their glucose iAUC for the reference food. The final GI value for the test food is the average GI value for the 10 people. (Jennie Brand-Miller at Sydney University)
The big problem is in the “portion of food containing 50 grams of digestible carbohydrate”, which can be a very large or a very small portion, depending on the food. Two additional problems are that different people have very different responses, and also that the body’s response to foods tested in isolation is not a good indication of how the body responds to food combinations typical of a meal. In this study, GI for different breakfasts was computed by adding up the GIs for individual foods; when the subjects’ insulin response was measured it had no relationship at all to the computed GI—a correlation of zero.
Combining fiber with carbohydrates
Adding fiber to a meal can reduce the subsequent blood glucose and the insulin spike [ref]. Wheat bran has been used to slow the blood sugar uptake for diabetics [ref]. Green leafy vegetables have a similar benefit [ref, ref].
Resistant starch is, by definition, starch that resists stomach enzymes, and is not quickly digested. It passes through the large intestine, where it is fermented by bacteria that thrive on it. RS may cause flattulence or indigestion. Often the symptoms clear up after a few weeks. Green bananas and raw potatoes are natural sources of RS. You can also buy it as a flour and mix it into foods. This study claims that resistant starch slows starch absorption and damps the insulin spike better than fiber. In this study, RS lowered fasting glucose and improved blood lipid profiles. Glucomannan (konjac), pectin, and guar flour are all reported to have similar effects to RS.
Personally, I have a hunch that fiber (and possibly resistant starch) change the intestinal flora in a way that lowers total food absorption. You extract fewer calories from the same food. However, this is almost impossible to measure directly, and to my knowledge the study has not been done. Less controversially, adding fiber or RS to the diet affect your appetite and how full you feel, and affect the insulin response, which influences whether your body burns the calories or adds to fat stores. In all events, I think it’s worth the experiment to see if you can lose weight by adding fiber to your meals.
In this context, it is no surprise that long-term studies show that diets rich in green leafy vegetables [ref, ref, ref] and high in fiber [ref,ref, ref, ref] lower the risk of chronic disease.
Drinking water with food, or eating foods with high water content, dilutes the food in your stomach. I find it reasonable that this alone should slow digestion, delay the absorption of sugar, lowering the effective glycemic load. Is this a substantial benefit, or is it negligible? I have been unable to find any data on this question. There is good evidence that peope tend to eat less calories if they drink more water, especially right before a meal [ref], so water can be a psychological aid to weight loss. Eating foods with high water content also increases satiety, so that (most people) tend to eat smaller meals, and don’t make up the difference later [ref]. Soups are a weight-loss strategy.
Supplements and drugs that can damp your insulin response:
- Chromium and magnesium. These are minerals with no down side. Recommended for all.
- Metformin. This is a classic diabetes drug, so powerful that diabetics taking metformin actually have a lower mortality rate than non-diabetics who don’t take metformin according to a Scottish study last year.
- Cinnamon and vinegar, green coffee extract and irvingia are among many substances that can be taken 20 minutes before a meal to suppress the insulin spike.
Is Fructose worse than Sugar?
All sugars contribute to insulin resistance and accelerate aging. Are some sugars worse than others?
Table sugar is sucrose, a 12-Carbon sugar. It is made of two 6-Carbon sugars, a “dimer” of fructose and glucose. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has more fructose than glucose (55-65%) and honey is similar. Agave is yet higher in fructose.
The name “fructose” would suggest that it is the sugar of fruits, but fruits in general don’t tend to have more fructose than glucose. Apple sugar is about 75% fructose, and melons are 65-70% fructose, but grapes, peaches, and berries are 50%, and bananas actually have less fructose than glucose. [from FoodIntolerance.org]
Whether fructose or HFCS is worse than sugar has become a controversial question. Life Extension magazine and Mercola.com are down on fructose, while Examine.com and other health advice sources tend to minimize the difference.
Both glucose and fructose go directly into the bloodstream, but glucose is the body’s primary fuel, so the insulin response is determined by the glucose. In terms of insulin spike, fructose is a lot better than glucose. Fructose has a much lower GI than glucose.
Despite this, there are two lines of argument against fructose
- The sweet taste without the insulin was found in this new study to interfere with natural appetite control, increasing desire for more food. But the difference was not dramatic, as measured either by subjective reports or fMRI. Satiety and hunger are said to be ruled by leptin and ghrelin, respectively. Leptin and ghrelin responses to glucose and fructose were not different in this study.
- In the liver, fructose is converted not to glucose, but to triglycerides, which are stored by the body as fat. There is broad evidence both from animals and humans that fructose is more fattening than glucose [ref, ref]. This is the basis for the argument that, in the long run, fructose leads to weight gain, insulin resistance, more type 2 diabetes, and thus more accelerated aging than glucose.
The best reference I’ve been able to find on the subject is Basciano et al, 2005.
Everyone agrees that it’s best to minimize both glucose and fructose. If you prefer to sweeten with glucose instead of fructose, it’s sold as dextrose, not as cheap as cane sugar, but cheaper than honey or agave or maple syrup.
A Calorie is a Calorie is a Calorie – Not!
“The amount you weigh is exactly the difference between the calories you ingest and the calories that you burn exercising.” We hear this all too often. Writers who should know better promote it as the “First Law of Thermodynamics.” This is dangerous nonsense.
In fact, the calorie content of a food is measured simply by burning it and collecting the heat that is released. But the body’s efficiency in use of foods is a very complex affair, dependent on everything from how well you chew your food to which bacteria reside in your intestine. Peanuts do not deliver the body as many calories as peanut butter. There are (lucky?) people with very inefficient metabolisms and (unlucky?) people whose bodies are able to extract every last calorie from any meal. The bacteria that live in our guts digest food for us, but extract a toll in energy that they need for themselves. Depending on the particular bacteria you have in your intestine, the toll may be only 10% of the food energy coming in, or close to half.
Roughage slows calorie absorption and helps to move food quickly through the intestine, with less total absorption. Eat as much raw wheat bran as you can stomach, and think of it as a negative-calorie food. A vegetarian raw foods diet is not for everyone, but if you can live with it, it is a sure way to lose weight. Raw foods are poorly absorbed, and from our perspective, that’s a good thing.
The Bottom Line
Weight gain or lost is probably a good proxy for how well you are controlling your glycemic load.
Remember that weight is relative to your genetic body type. A person who has a genetic disposition to being overweight is not at higher risk for diseases of old age unless he actually eats too much. Conversely, people who are blessed with a “thin metabolism” can be unhealthy if they overeat, even if they don’t look fat. If you tend to being overweight and have to diet and work out constantly to keep your weight just above “normal”, you are in the optimal position for health and longevity. [Read more]
I suggest that you use your instincts and your experience to lower your glycemic response to food, and not to waste time with the mysteries in the tables of glycemic index. First cut out sugar, then work on reducing starch. Refined carbohydrates are worse than whole grains, but in my own diet I’ve eliminated all bread, pasta, rice, grains, and potatoes—so I can attest it’s possible. Beans and nuts are good protein sources if, like me, you don’t eat meat. My vegetarian version of the no-starch diet leads to moderate ketosis, less extreme than in a meat-based diet.
Combine fiber into every meal. Eat large salads and other green vegetables. Add raw wheat bran and/or resistant starch to your foods.
Everyone should be supplementing with magnesium. Consider chromium and metformin as well.
Eat soups. Drink water before and during meals.
Fasting is a powerful way to preserve insulin sensitivity. Concentrating all your daily eating in an 8-hour window counts as a short, daily fast [read more]. Longer fasts of one to four days have major benefits [read more].
Exercise is the best general tonic for general health. Exercise before meals in particular is a great habit to culture. Even a minute or two of vigorous exercise that gets you panting makes a big difference in your glycemic response to a meal.
Breathtaking! Just trying to get a handle on the cacophony of information, comparisons, conversions, interrelationships, formulas, extrapolations and equations is a robust workout in and of itself. Now let’s eat.
I’m not a scientist, just an aging speculator*
The Underlying theory of bridge 1, is to make conditions within the body more difficult for the aging system to be functioning at optimal efficiency using hormesis
Ideally, Since fat is a signalling hormone that speeds the aging process, especially abdominal or deep organ fat, which i think can be redistributed through brief periods of cold exposure , bringing the fat from deeper within the body to more external distribution where it is less harmful in my opinion,
Keeping bodyfat as low as possible, while keeping grip strength as high as possible should lower mortality, and since mortality is based on aging, with aging being the number 1 cause of mortality, anything which reduces risk of all cause mortality, MUST be having an effect on aging, since we describe aging as “risk of mortality” Aging IS mortality, Lowering risk of mortality, Is slowing aging in my opinion
How do we measure the aging process? That is the question, Until we have a good feedback system which can measure changes every week or month, we are speculating and do not know how well our strategies are working
I agree with your comments on fat–I do not know who you are, sorry, (and I worry a little with Josh thinking, perhaps, that eating a substantial or high amount of fat is good for us. I do not think that way, irrespective of the validity of what we are told about cholesterol).
We know that equilibrated diets should be a little fat and a little protein (bad for aging due to methionine at least, that is clear). Therefore, since the total you eat must sum 100%, most of what you eat must be (% of total calories eaten) carbohydrates, but COMPLEX ONES, never simple ones like sugar or coke etc.
Optimum fat in rats is 8% of total calories (AIN93 diet) and recent experiments find even less cancers for diets of 4% total fat! (Currently in western humans, fat is around 30% in diet!!)
I understand Josh’s worry about the cellular PRO-AGING PROGRAM which is driven by GH/insulin/IGF-1 like signalling (I agree). But this program accelerates as a function of the CONCENTRATION of glucose (and then of insulin) in blood, NOT ON the total amount of glucose absorbed in the intestine. Sugar generates huge peaks of glucose and insulin, whereas green vegetables, for instance, generate rather flat peaks, so the pro-aging program runs slowly. This could explain why intermittent feeding increases longevity in rodents, just like classical CR, even in strains that do “gorge” the days they receive food.
And all this coincides with recommendations from good researchers and Professors of Nutrition: eat a lot of complex carbohydrates, little fat and proteins (0.8 g of prot per Kg weight per day max, RDA USA).
This is what Spanish Professors of Nutriton say. I have confidence in them. Spain is a third or 4th- line country in research, but in the field of Nutrition it us among the best Worldwide since many decades ago.
And the TRUTH, THE Reality, is a single ONE. SO iT IS NoT SURPRisING TO ME to verify that lessons from the Nutrition and the Aging areas COINCIDE!! (equilibrated, “prudent” diet must be composed mostly by complex carbs). I find USA now too much exagerating AGAINST CARBS (in general!!) lately, and I think this is again a big mistake ( like cigarettes, or Tylenol in the past).
And Josh. I should not be afraid of pasta. Italians are among the most long-lived in the World and keep much thinner than Americans. The trick, they say, is to cook the Pasta less “al dente”. (And French are most long-lived and eat a lot–I recognize, of SATURATED low DBI–fats)
I don’t think there is any real “secret” in the diet, not if you’re already eating clean, in my opinion, the returns are diminishing and resemble a bell curve. At best, we are adding, if we are lucky, 5 or 6 years at the end of the “low quality” life-span(so long as we avoid cardiac complications a long the way as a limiting factor to this longevity), 6 years after age 80 is not as valuable as 6 years after 30, but at this age our programmed aging system hasn’t done a whole lot of damage that would make us overly sensitive to even a slightly suboptimal diet.
There is simply no human being alive today past the age of 100 that can owe their longevity success to a dietary secret, we can delude ourselves with nutritional proportions and hope to avert disease but there is no evidence it works, past simply the low-hanging-fruit which is the basic advice
I like to use jack lalanne as an example, He used the classic strategy of diet and exercise and did EVERYTHING correctly( he had 2 gyms in his house), he did everything by the book, He made it to 96 which is a huge achievement, however the problem is that… He is no longer here.
To “age successfully is a paradox”
There are two reasons exercise and the diet are futile and diminishing, yes they burden the aging system, but they also make us healthy, a healthy body means a healthy aging system since the aging system is part of the body. We cant say :
“i look great, i must be really healthy” well if that’s the case then the aging system is still going strong! Since we have no way to isolate it
Our bodies are extremely good at adapting to exercise, and probably just as good at making sure we age on schedule
We need to be able to measuring the rate of aging, Only then can we really know that what we’re doing is effective, Once we CAN measure the rate of biological expiration, we can finally start kinking the system through lifestyle and see the cause and effect in real-time, I think when this happens, people will be surprised how little effect their healthy lifestyles are having on their rate of aging, and a lot of frustration will ensue in the population(especially among arrogant distance runners who think they are beating the aging system), currently the masses believe exercise and diet is the answer which acts as a religious opiate by putting aging far away in their own minds, and it is for “successful aging” that is hardly a worthy goal since expiration lasts an eternity.
that is not very ambitious. Remember, The ultimate goal here is to be consequence-free-hedonists and to out-wit nature which has cursed us all with a system by which we rot the quicker the more we enjoy . However we have to obey nature’s laws which punishes us for this kind of lifestyle, when we ask ourselves why do we practise longevity ? It’s so we can live longer to enjoy the pleasures of life which paradoxically punish us and shorten our life-spans for enjoying them!
As you can see, the dream of humanity has long been an abundant environment of consequence-free-hedonism,
Without the ability to measure aging, People assume that their are out-smarting the aging system through diet because they cannot see how ineffective their “lifestyle” hacking is working, the people are in a delusion that exercise and diet are really having a “huge effect” so they don’t invest as much in biotech thinking that they are outwitting the system, Sadly, people are still expiring on actuarial schedule even after decades of the “classic” jack lalanne approach, So long as this “exercise and diet” religious delusion resides, we won’t see a huge change in attitude in the anti-aging community
In order for there to be a revolution in the anti-aging community, the mass delusion must end and we should know aging as it stands, with bridge 1 solutions are futile.
Yes, When you speak of anti-aging to the masses the first thing they tell you is “exercise and diet” this has been known for a century. Aging and Expiration are going strong.
If the masses were to suddenly realize that no matter how many vitamins and supplements and exercises they do, they are going to age anyway, the mass religious healthy lifestyle delusion would end and we’d make some real progress.
I agree with you, for the most part. Thanks for writing.
I agree with you that exercise and most fashionable diets do not decrease the aging rate. But dietary caloric restriction (DR) surely does it because it increases Maximum longevity OVER that of NORMALLY long-lived controls in all kinds of animals including rodents and rhesus monkeys delaying the denerative diseases.
And there is substantial evidence that intermitente feeding (IF), as well as protein restriction, WITHOUT caloric restriction (PR), also decrease aging rate, altough the effect of PR IS AROUND half that of DR. So, there are things we can already do to lower our aging rate without reasonable doubt that we are “losing our time and sacrifice”.
But this is only the minor gene cluster for aging (see Barja-G, Biogerontology, 2008). The big one is that controling the change from shrew to whale ( 200 fold difference in max. Longevity). Josh calculated for me about two years ago that, for humans to get eternal youth (which is not immortality, of course) a 10 fold decrease in aging rate will br enough….(discarding damage from exogenous origin). Therefore, what we must urgently and mor e intensively investigate is the GENE CLUSTER CONTROLING THE (HUGE) INTERSPECIFIC DIFFERENCES IN LONGEVITY
The body adjusts its rate of aging in response to environmental cues.
I would add to the list vitamin D. Read the vitamin D book by Jeff Bowles on Amazon. He has a fascinating theory about how we evolved to “hibernate” in the winter using vitamin D blood levels as a proxy for less food. Now we have food year round and live indoors (no vitamin D) so our body shuts down thinking it is always winter (i.e. less food).
Google vitamin d insulin resistance and you should find that vitamin D is a powerful nutrient when it comes to insulin resistance.
I’ve heard you need to eat all carbs and no fat –or– all fat and no carbs to defend yourself from diabetes. It depends who you ask. I have my own thoughts. Carbs cause insulin to spike. Insulin tells the body to store glucose and fat. I say to eat fats and carbs but not at the same meal. This way when you have lots of insulin there is little fat to push into the cells.
Finally please read the vitamin K2 book by Kate Rheaume-Bleue also on Amazon. Taking vitamin D causes us to absorb more calcium and you don’t want it going into your arteries. K2 removes calcium from your arteries and works synergistically with vitamin D.
Yes. But we shoud be well aware of the dose since VITK excess syndrome, at variance with vitE (although liposoluble too), does exist.
VitD deficiency however is very frequent , 50% of the old in Spain (no matter the “famous” Spanish sun) most of the year due to living indoors in cold months.
And the Spanish Ministry of health does not do anything about it, although most of the studies above were performed by spanish medical doctors researchers.
In the young, low non- deficient levels are common in winter and cold months too.
In response to your comments about resistant starch, there have been 9 studies on resistant starch directly improving insulin sensitivity. Read more at http://www.resistantstarch.us/posts/improved-glucose-metabolism/. And yes, it does change the microbiota very quickly and distinctively. Animal studies have shown that it changes the expression of more than 200 genes within the large intestine, some of which are known to be involved in fat and sugar metabolism. http://www.ResistantStarch.us will give you insights as to the latest information.
The website Rhonda mentions exclusively recommends supplementing RS. However, all boiled starchy foods develop RS after cooling down (and even more after refrigerating). Josh, it is a pity you have banned potatoes, pasta and rice , because cooled potato salads are part and parcel of the various Mediterranean diets. Once you go beyond the tourist areas you will find that many restaurants that also have local patrons offer salads with some potatoes and green leafy vegetables (and herbs, spices and their local vinaigrette). Or: with pasta or rice. I love them!
And how did that lovely old lady from Japan live to be 120 or so? Her answer : she eats lots of Sushi. The main ingredient of Sushi is cooled down rice. 🙂
By citing a scientific article I do not want to imply that a have scientific qualification, because I haven’t any. However, anyone trying to dig a little deeper into this might be interested to read about RS3 in this publication:
Hello Dr., your last comment has left me surprised!
As you came to remove the grains from your diet? Have you read about Daoist Dietetics?
You know that what indicates how diet is practiced by some monks Daoists for hundreds years ago?
You may be interested in reading at Shawn Arthur: Life without Grains: Bigu and the Daoist Body of http://threepinespress.com/Cultivation/body-cultivation
and Yoked to Earth: A Treatise on Corpse-Demons or Bigu and http://web.archive.org/web/20080407193943/http://hanlin.hit.bg/bigu_eng.htm.
A cordial greeting from Argentina,
un cordial saludo desde Argentina.
thanks, Angel – I’ll take a look.
Quinoa is often presented as a high-protein, low-carb alternative to rice or wheat. But if you look at the USDA nutritional composition, you’ll see that quinoa is a slightly better than wheat in terms of protein and carbohydrates, but not in the same league as nuts or beans.
As far as fructose goes, I did a small side study during my graduate research and found that when comparing glucose fed C. elegans to fructose fed C. elegans, fructose was quite a bit deadlier than glucose.
Good start! Do you know if the worm study has been replicated in humans?
Yes, I remember reading many papers in my life showing that fructose is worse than glucose for health in general, not just for aging. This fact? interested me, But I could not imagine the mechanism. Because basic digestive physiology says that when fructose is absorbed through the enterocyte in the intestine from the luminal (brush border) to the basal side what exits to the intestinal capillaries is mostly glucose (most fructose is converted to glucose when it crosses the enterocyte (a single cell separating the lumen of the intestine from the blood)). Therefore it is difficult to understand how fructose can damage the rest of the body if it is not fructose any more…but mostly glucose going in the intestinal veins to the liver and then to the rest of the body.
I never got an answer for that question that I posed myself many years ago. But surely there must be one….
Josh, thank you for this article, and your generosity in sharing your research and ideas on your blog.
That sentence is profound. If only I understood the truth of those words 20 years ago. Those three principles guide my approach to maintaining a good healthspan:
Fasting – I practice a 16/8 period of fasting where I try to limit my consumption of calories to an 8 hour window (as there is strong evidence that time restricting feeding supports good circadian rhythms and long-term health)
Exercise – I conduct low intensity aerobic exercise 45 minutes every day (walking or cycling) for heart and brain health. I lift heavy weights 2-3 times a week.
Foods with low GI – I eat mostly unprocessed foods. The small amount of grains that I do consume are in the form of oatmeal, not breads or pasta.
Josh – any thoughts on this: http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2015/0250771.html
It appears Valter Longo is trying to patent fasting with kinase inhibitors as a treatment for cancer.
If you look at the “assignee”, you see that Longo is just the inventor. It’s USC that is applying for the patent, and any profits from this patent go to the University.
Longo may just be being compliant with the University’s aggressive patent policy. See
Universities love the prestige of being on such a list. In addition, a lot of money can be made from ground breaking technology. The economics of hitting it big drive bizarre behaviors (especially in state University systems). After all, you can not win the lottery if you do not play.
In addition, Professors at Universities are urged to publish. Publish or perish. Patent publications are just another notch on their publication list. Longo patent is easy to work around. Furthermore, it would be very difficult to enforce. People can just create their own meals in accordance with his patent application. Are the patent police going to come into everyone’s kitchen to determine if their is patent infringement.
Patents are good PR for Universities and Professors and other employees are enjoying the ride.