R. Patrick interviews Valter Longo:
Valter: Yeah. I really don't see it as a stress, I see it more as an environment that is very common, right? It's very common to bacteria, it's more common, in fact than food, right? So, you can see food is a bigger stress than fasting, right? Because food really puts you in a weak position, right? And fasting puts you in a strong position. So, if you look at most organisms on the planet, they're much more under starvation condition that they are, including humans, right? Historically, if you look at, there's some really nice books about, you know, the medieval times in Italy, and even after, and it's amazing how many times they were with our food at all, right?
Rhonda: Mm-hmm, yeah.
Valter: They could be without food for months, and this was very common for everybody. Imagine before then, imagine in tens of thousands of years ago, we must have gone without food for a really long time. So, fasting is part of the normal world, it is the normal world. And food comes around once in a while, and then you go back to the fasting. But you have to respond to that, and you respond by having a entering a mode of survival that is very different from the one that you enter or you stay in when you have plenty of food around.
Rhonda: Yeah. I see what you're saying, but, I think, though, what I, kinda, was trying to convey was that it activates stress response pathways because, you know, even though it is part of our normal, you know... Obviously, throughout human evolution, we've been through periods of time with, you know, no food and starvation. That is normal, it is part of our normal, it is part of our normal biology, I guess. But, I think that because it activates all these stress response pathways in a way...
Valter: Yeah. I mean, word-wise, technically, yeah, it is a stress, I mean, it's viewed as a stress. But I guess that...
Rhonda: Like the hormetic type of stress is what I'm talking about.
Valter: Yeah, but that's the one that I have a problem with, meaning that, the hormetic stress is really, you know, something that you activate by having some type of damage or problem that activates a response. And then, that response makes the system more protected against the bigger problem, right? But, here, I view it more as program A, program B, type of thing, right? So, program A, the major program is the starvation program, where you are in a shielded mode, right? Your decision is, "Let's be in a long-term protective mode." And program B is when the organism makes the decision that it doesn't need to be in a productive mode because they really want to focus on reproduction, and growth, and reproduction. And so, I think it's better to view it this way because I think a lot of people, by going into the hormesis theory, maybe you missed a little bit of the point. And I know a lot of people would disagree with me on this, but, really, by doing the work like we've done in E. coli, in yeast, in human cells, in mice, and in humans, you start getting, you know, a more clear picture of what's going on. And I really see this as A and B, you know, the environment decides which program you adopt.
Interesting, in that Longo sees fasting as being normal. And that the body simply has a Plan A for fasting and a Plan B for feeding.