This article is copyright © Nils Osmar 2019.
An issue we keep circling around in the Facebook group “ANTI-AGING THERAPIES: DHEA, REUTERI, NAD BOOSTERS, NMN, NR, FASTING & MORE” is the question of mTOR and longevity.
Many studies have shown that raising mTOR levels too high can accelerate aging. Doing things that helps to lower mTOR activity has been shown to increase the lifespan in several different species, including mice, yeast, worms and flies. Two eminent scientists, Dr. David Sinclair and Dr. Valter Longo, have done a good job of publicizing these studies.
But jumping from this knowledge to concluding that we should lower our mTOR levels as much as possible, and that doing anything that might raise mTOR is “bad” for longevity strikes me as a gross oversimplification, and one which has been distorted by the current push in the media to view plant based foods as “better for us” than animal based foods.
We appear to have evolved eating both animal based and plant based foods, and it’s likely that we have a need for both. Too little mTOR activity has several negative effects.
- One is that it can slow down and disrupt healing.
- Another is that it contributes to diabetes and insulin resistance.
- A third is that it can cause specific health problems such as cataracts in mouse models.
- Fourthly, while some studies that have suggested a problem if we eat too much mTOR, others have repeatedly found that we need more, not less, animal based protein as we are aging, particularly after we pass the age of 60. Dr. Valter Longo mentions this in his own writings about diet and longevity.
Personally I have seen sharp and (sometimes) irreversible declines in friends of mine in their 50s and 60s who gave up animal based foods, including a rapid progression toward frailty, memory problems, and dementia.
I was vegan myself for almost three years, and experienced a large number of health problems, including memory and mood issues and issues with my eyesight and my teeth, which rapidly cleared up when I added meat back into my diet.
I have not seen permanent good results in a single person I’ve known personally, who gave up eating animal foods, though sometimes there was a temporary boost due to the fact that their diets were so low in protein that they stimulated autophagy, which cleans debris and clutter from our cells. (Vegan diets can include a high quantity of protein if they’re well planned, but it tends to be lower in quality and bioavailability than the protein from meat and other animal sources, which also lack other key nutrients such as B12.)
This is not to say that I think questions around mTOR are unimportant. If your goal is to live as long as possible, it’s important to be aware of the studies suggesting that there’s a benefit to keeping it low. But there are many ways of doing so that don’t rule out eating animal-based foods. Even carnivores (who eat no plants at all) can successfully lower their mTOR by doing one meal a day eating, or by doing every-other-day eating. It’s not a question of needing to give up meat, but of balancing your total mTOR levels out over a period of time.
As a side note, some people are becoming afraid of exercising due to a fear of activating mTOR. Doug McGuff addresses these (misguided) concerns in this video.
|P.S. My current diet includes a number of plant-based and animal based foods.
Some plant-based foods I eat a lot of include:
Some animal-based foods I eat a lot of include: