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The Keto Diet - a Diet for Longevity? What Science Says

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  • The Keto Diet - a Diet for Longevity? What Science Says

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    For nearly a hundred years, scientists have been researching a method to slow down aging by reducing dietary calorie intake.

    Experiments on a variety of organisms, from yeast to rhesus monkeys, have shown that life expectancy can be increased if energy consumption is reduced by 10–30%.

    The mechanisms of this phenomenon are still under discussion, but it seems that it is based on a shift in metabolic processes from carbohydrate metabolism towards fat metabolism.

    Similar phenomena are observed when using a ketogenic, that is, a "high-fat" diet. But does such a diet prolong life?

    When starving or restricting nutrition in the mammalian body, metabolism changes.

    In particular, the concentration of the hormone insulin in the blood decreases, which activates the process of lipolysis - the breakdown of fats into their constituent fatty acids, as well as their subsequent oxidation with the formation of ketone bodies.

    The latter become that "fuel", which instead of glucose begin to "feed" organs and tissues.


    A similar metabolic shift is caused by low-carb and so-called ketogenic diets, low in carbohydrates and high in fat.


    This "ketogenic diet" is known to have neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and anti-stress effects, but what about longevity?

    Scientists from the University of California, Davis (USA) mimicked the metabolic shift during fasting in experiments on laboratory mice, which from 12 months of age (which is about half the life of a mouse) "put" on the ketogenic diet.

    The other group received a reduced carbohydrate diet, the control group - a standard food.

    The number of calories consumed by animals in all three groups was sufficient and the same, the difference was only in the ratio of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

    The animals were measured for body weight, a number of blood biomarkers, physical activity, age-related changes and life expectancy were monitored.


    It turned out that both the low-carb and especially the ketogenic diet significantly increased the average lifespan of the animals.


    The ketogenic diet also slowed the development of age-related changes, including cognitive impairment, in aging mice.

    However, the results of other similar studies suggest that in the case of the keto diet, to achieve the effect of "longevity", obesity must be avoided.

    It is believed that one of the possible mechanisms of a positive effect of nutritional restriction on life expectancy is a decrease in the activity of the signaling pathway of the mTOR kinase enzyme, as a result of which proteins involved in the processes of cell division, apoptosis (cell suicide), as well as in the body's response to stress factors.

    All this leads to positive consequences, for example, strengthening of autophagy processes, degradation of damaged proteins and cell organelles.

    It appears that the keto diet also reduces the activity of this signaling pathway in mouse liver cells.

    In addition, the most abundant ketone body, beta-hydroxybutyrate, is an inhibitor of deacetylase enzymes, which play an important role in regulating gene activity by changing the spatial position of chromosome material in the cell nucleus.

    It has been established that inhibitors of these enzymes prolong the life of yeast and flies, however, the exact mechanisms of this phenomenon have not yet been identified.


    In any case, researchers have shown that low-carb diets are not harmful to the health, at least of laboratory mice, and the ketogenic diet, in addition, significantly prolongs life and slows down the development of age-related changes.


    The results of further research into the mechanisms of this phenomenon may result in scientifically based recommendations of nutritionists to eat more fat at the expense of carbohydrates.

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