Alessandro Laviano has a remarkable resume. Over the years, he has had different positions nationally and internationally. A doctor of internal medicine and nephrology at the Umberto I Hospital in Rome, he specialized in the field of nutrition and healthy eating, focusing his research on the benefits resulting from the integration of a pharmacological and nutritional approach to patients with pathologies such as cancer. Besides, Professor Laviano participated in the research that led to the Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD) as a teacher of Internal Medicine and Metabolic Diseases at "La Sapienza" University in Rome.
Healthy Eating: A Way to Prevent Disease
Professor Laviano, nowadays, how important is healthy eating?
It is very important from a medical, social and economic point of view. There is a growing evidence that correct nutrition is a major asset in the prevention of chronic degenerative diseases and in recovery from disease. In addition, costs for the use of new treatments are excessively expensive for many health systems, but they do not always provide satisfactory results in terms of efficiency, have a look at recent examples in oncology. However, nutrition is an effective strategy that could reduce the need for pharmacotherapy for many patients. Even so, it is clear we will still need medicines to cure many diseases. Proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle can help drug treatments increase their effectiveness and reduce costs to the society.
What do you think of a diet able to reproduce the metabolic effects of fasting, which is essentially the aim of the FMD?
The role of fasting in disease prevention has been a topic of research for decades, but its transition from laboratory to daily life has always been limited by the inherent difficulty of following caloric restriction and periodic fasting for months and years. Therefore, being able to follow a diet that, being low-calorie can mimic the metabolic effects of fasting, allows us to obtain greater compliance with the program compared to a caloric restriction of several months or years.
Professor, on many occasions you have expressed your opinion on the "DIY" method. What are the drawbacks method this could cause?
Food is a powerful inducer of biological responses, just as food abstinence. The consequences of period of caloric restriction, even a short one, can be associated with particularly complex imbalances in hydro-electrolytes or carbohydrate metabolism. It is always better if those fasting mimicking diet periods are carried out using formulas validated and confirmed by thousands of subjects around the world. Unfortunately, when it comes to food, we all think we are experts. Actually, food, if properly handled, can act as a powerful beneficial drug, but in the meanwhile, it can lead to harmful metabolic alterations.
Why should a person choose the FMD as a food kit, scientifically and clinically formulated, rather than relying on a similar diet?
In addition to what I said previously, I think the important and practical motivation to follow the FMD in the form of a food kit is due to the beneficial and protective effects that have been proved only for the kit. Therefore, relying on another similar diet may not have the desired effects, and even bring about alterations of body composition.
You have followed several patients during the five days of the FMD, what did you conclude?
So far, I have been able to follow several healthy and ill subjects. I must say that no one has encountered any particular difficulty in following the FMD, proving that it is a diet that can easily be followed. The most surprising and often observed thing was the great energy that most of the subjects treated had, even during the period of FMD. Moreover, almost all the subjects who, before the FMD, reported osteoarticular pains, afterwards we noticed all the painful symptoms had totally disappeared.
Would you advise FMD, followed with the clinically approved method, to patients with certain pathophysiological conditions?
The FMD is safe in healthy subjects, and probably even more effective in patients with chronic and degenerative conditions. Of course, we need clinical studies to confirm this, but I already consider that it is possible to integrate the FMD into standard medical therapy after having explained everything to the patient and in agreement with the doctor who follows him or her.
Could this be a good integration to standard medicine?
Certainly, in order to increase its efficiency and not replace it.
According to your experience as a doctor, could you describe the fasting mimicking diet?
- A simple and effective strategy
- Contributes to achieve successfully aging
- Helps live longer and better.
Article written by: Francesca Florenzo
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