Longer lives with less insulin?

This is a fascinating new TED talk. Certain genes, when activated, make worms, flies and mice live much longer. Almost identical genes exist in humans and may have the same effect. But these genes are turned off by insulin and IGF-1.

Cynthia Keynon curiously does not mention it in this talk, but drugs and gene therapy is not the only way to get this effect. There is another simpler way and she is doing it herself. Removing excess carbs from the diet is a very effective way to lower insulin and IGF-1, activating the long-life genes.

Here is an earlier interview with her: Can cutting carbohydrates from your diet make you live longer?


  1. Luis

    How does this idea re conciliate with the correlation, or even causality, between life span and lean mass ? I understand that lean mass requires increased levels of IFG-1

    Thanks for all the hard work you put in this blog

  2. Both links go to the same Daily Mail article.
    Jimmy Moore inteview?
    Here is Dr Mercola's take on the topic.
    The Amazing Anti-Aging Discovery Experts Say Deserves the Nobel Prize
  3. D J
    I'm curious if lowering insulin can be done by taking Gymnema sylvestre
  4. Ulrik
    Hi Andreas (and others),

    do you know if it's sufficient to reduce IGF-1 (reduce carbs) in order to increase expression of FOXO, or is it necessary to also moderate protein intake to less than about 1 g/kg (to keep mTOR low also)?

    Another way to phrase the question: does low IGF-1 and low mTOR activity independently promote FOXO, or is it necessary to simultaneously reduce these pathways?

  5. Tytti Laiho
    Figures with crosslinking too:


    "Researchers believe that if the concentration of sugar in the blood is high, then more cross-linking occurs. Everyone could benefit from keeping their blood sugar from spiking. Foods with a high glycemic index, such as sugary sodas and juices, release sugar into the body quickly. These foods have been associated with cardiovascular disease, possibly because of protein cross-linking."

  6. Jordi
    Ron Rosedale has been beating this drum for years. I'm pretty sure she got the basic idea from him, but never credits him. Just wants to invent a drug to make her rich !
  7. Ulrik
    Here are some more resources for those interested:

    An quick guide to FOXO genes and their role in longevity:

    A nice summary of the role of the IGF1 and TOR pathways in lifespan regulation:
    See in particular Figure 1 for the signalling pathways:

    Luis: As I understand it, it's only when you grow that you need growth factors, including IGF-1. When you're just maintaining yourself, you want low levels of growth factors to induce longevity.

    Jordi: You'll see that Kenyon has contributed to a lot of the fundamental research in this area over the past 30 years or more. Dr Rosedale is a practitioner, and while he has surely followed the research closely and added by putting various pieces together, he didn't make the pieces.

  8. Jaime
    All very interesting -Something new to read about. Thanks Andrea and Ulrik.
  9. moreporkplease
    So I guess the upshot of Ulrik's links are whether an Atkins-style diet of 60% fat, 10% carbs, and 30% protein will initiate the effect, or whether you need to be intensely ketogenic - 80% fat, 10% carbs, and 10% protein?

    Do we have any research that indicates where in this range we should fall?

  10. GoEd
    If carb restriction would be sufficient to increase lifespan, you would have thought that some traditional cultures with a low carb intake (such as the inuits) would have had a longer average lifespan then cultures who consumed higher amounts of carbs.

    To the best of my knowledge thats not the case.

  11. @ GoEd "traditional cultures with a low carb intake (such as the inuits) would have had a longer average lifespan then cultures who consumed higher amounts of carbs"
    But traditional cultures without the "benefit" of electricity maintained traditional melatonin secretion from dusk to dawn and outdoor lifestyles that maintained traditional vitamin d creation from dawn to dusk. Both melatonin/vit D3 are vital to immune function and further impact on gut flora and metabolism. Why cooking counts Study finds an increase in energy from meat, suggesting key role in evolution
    We have to take into account the nature of our gut flora and the role melatonin has on inhibiting pathogenic gut flora. Melatonin secretion in gut is 400X that of the pineal gland a fact that is ignored by most metabolism bloggers. the human gastrointestinal tract includes a whole host of bacteria, and those bacteria metabolize some of our food for their own benefit
  12. Jaime
    @GoEd: Removing a single key element, such as vitamin C or D3, results unequivocally in health problems rather fast, but including a beneficial is not going to make you twice as strong or long-lived, because there are hundreds of interactions and interrelated processes that are involved in our metabolism, and you don't see clear benefits unless they are all working properly in synergy.

    If you want to check whether a low-carb diet increases life span, you need a large clinical study with two groups of similar life expectancy and habits, trying to control most variables within reason, and modifying only the diet. You can't simply compare two populations who inhabit regions with different climate, weather, flora, fauna, medical access...

  13. Desert Tomte
    Great link Andreas,
    When are we going to see you and other LCHF/Paleo luminaries at the TED talks?
  14. moreporkplease

    "You can't simply compare two populations who inhabit regions with different climate, weather, flora, fauna, medical access..."

    Thanks for that comment. Let me add "and may have very distinct genetics." I constantly remain uncomfortable with folks arguing points from unscientific observations of gentleman explorers in the 19th century on distinct edge cases of humanity, all of whom tend to be small, remote, and of a tiny ethnic gene pool.

    At the time the explorers observed the Pima, there were only 3,900 of them. The uncontacted Amazonian Indians may live in groups of less than 200. There are to this day only 2,000 Kitavans, who live in a very remote area, and maybe only 150 have really been studied.

    I guarantee we have metabolic differences based on genetics from these distinct, almost unique, groups.

    Most of us in this discussion are of European descent. I know for example that I can drink and process cow's milk without issue - that's my genetics. The Kitavans apparently cannot do so. What other significant genetic differences do we have?

    Thus when the Kitavan FAQ says "oh there hasn't been enough time to adapt to milk," (http://www.staffanlindeberg.com/FAQ.html), well that's hogwash. Those of us of Northern European descent developed that ability, probably before the Bronze Age (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/10/science/10cnd-evolve.html). It's no secret. Why does the FAQ state this obvious untruth?

    I am more persuaded when Gary Taubes talks about large, diverse populations, such as residents of the city of Naples - long a cosmopolitan port with a lot of ethnic mixing from Europe, Africa, and the Middle East - and Chile, another large population, with a diverse mix of European immigrants and native peoples.

    So Jaime, I really think you have a very important point that should be made more often. :)

  15. Jaime
    >So Jaime, I really think you have a very important point that should be made more often.

    Well... I see too much bad science all the time, everywhere, so I tend not to completely believe something until I have evaluated all the evidence myself (so at least the mistake is mine). But Gary Taubes really presents a strong case in favour of fats, and right after reading the book you start to observe people around you, and you realise that something is very wrong with the mainstream beliefs about fats, even if Taubes et al are not completely right about everything himself. I have switched to a low carb diet, and I am losing weight and I feel better than before, so I find it very hard to believe that those fats are killing me, or that rubbish about calories in/out, no matter what the 'experts' say.

    But going back to 'science', before you draw any serious conclusions, you need to do a fair, rigorous double-blind (or triple, to keep Big Pharma away) clinical study, and that, of course, includes genetics too. Observing how a population in a far corner of the Earth does not get fat with a particular diet does not mean that it is going to work on everyone else, but it proves that the connection between human metabolism and diet is definitely much more complex than just avoid fats and/or carbs, plus keeping the "energy balance" down. Unfortunately, there are no good large studies in this field, that I know of.

  16. Taubes on Fat, Sugar and Scientific Discovery Hosted by Russ Roberts ECONTALK you may find this discussion Taubes has with an Economist interesting as it goes over the question of science and belief and the overlap that explains why some people, however much you may argue with them cannot bring themselves to accept that they MAY be wrong
    If you go to the discussion in the comments on Mercola's article on Safe Starches you'll see what I mean.
  17. @dietdoctor Can you do a post about LCHF diets and Calorie Restriction diets for Longevity? I am particularly interested in knowing if the longevity comes from Low amounts of total calories consumed or if its from net loss amounts?

    ex: a sedentary person could eat 1900 calories and be net 0, but an athelete may eat 2500 and be net -500. Who is going to live longer according to the Calorie restriction principles?

    Thanks for any info!

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