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The Ketogenic Diet for Longevity: Why and How Keto Helps Live Longer

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  • The Ketogenic Diet for Longevity: Why and How Keto Helps Live Longer


    According to current Google Trends, the keto diet is America’s most-researched diet today. The interest of people in low-carb nutrition is over 10 times greater than paleo and 130 percent greater than vegan.

    The reason behind this sudden outbreak of interest is the ability of the diet to promote impressive weight loss. When you scroll through ketoforhealth.org, you will be overwhelmed with ‘ketogenic transformations” that document instant weight loss – 5, 20, 100 lbs. or even more – usually in only months.

    We all wish for a healthy, long life that is free of any debilitating illness in old age. Although nobody can live everlastingly, there are some dietary patterns which if followed, can increase your chances of staying vital and fit even in your golden years.



    Click on the image to see Video: Dr. Eric Verdin on Ketogenic Diet Longevity




    A diet plays an instrumental role in an individual’s longevity, with some foods raising the chances of a disorder while others, encouraging good health. Which diet can be considered ideal for helping you live longer?

    With the ketogenic diet’s incredible results in various chronic diseases, it brings us to think about its role in longevity. Below, we shall discuss overlooked parts of this diet and how it can promote a healthy life as you get older.



    Ketogenic Diet – A brief Overview

    The ketogenic or keto diet is high in fats, low in carbohydrates, and moderate in protein diet. According to scientists at the NIH (National Institutes of Health), the diet divides up macronutrients into portions, so the individuals get 55-60 percent fats, 5-10 percent carbs, and 30-35 percent proteins. Their daily calorie intake is 2000, and they consume less than 50g of carbohydrates in a day.



    Click on the image to see Video: Dr. John Ramsey - Ketogenic Diets and Aging



    A well-formulated keto nutrition plan is structured from fats that are plant-based like avocados, coconuts, green leafy vegetables like Brussels sprouts, and spinach and moderate intake of good-quality fatty meat. The diet restricts grains, bread, pasta, cereals, and limits the intake of starchy vegetables and fruits. It may also be changed to a vegetarian, pescatarian, or vegan version.

    By restricting carbs and moderating proteins, your body can efficiently break down fat for energy – both stored fat and dietary fat in the body. This energy comes from ketone bodies or ketones that are synthesized in your liver in small concentrations that substitute glucose as the body’s major fuel source.

    Ketones provide energy by producing the ‘super fuel’ known as ATP, or adenosine triphosphate. Moreover, the synthesis of ketone bodies relies on a person’s body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, and resting basal metabolic rate. So, the concentration of ketone bodies differs from one to another.

    Ketones are shown to decrease free radical injury, lower levels of blood sugar, raise antioxidant capacity, and burn fat. The body can easily use them to provide energy to the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscle tissue.

    The state of ketone synthesis, known as ketosis, is absolutely natural. In fact, our survival is based on it. The process of ketosis enabled our forefathers to get rid of deposited body fat in periods of food shortage (fasting is one of the quickest ways to ketosis). While we may be living in a food abundant world today, our forefathers experienced quite a different reality.

    Doctors first used the keto diet in the 1920s as an effective and natural prescription for treating pediatric epilepsy. It was inspired by fasting, which revealed an incredible potential for treating epilepsy even when the most powerful medications failed to treat it.

    By preparing a meal plan –the keto meal plan - that replicated the physiological impact of fasting, the doctors were able to provide long-term benefits to patients.

    When the body is in ketosis, the absorption of sugar (glucose) stops. This results in the suppression of inflammatory genes that reduces inflammation within the brain (an underlying process in most chronic illnesses).

    Experts began observing other advantages apart from decreased inflammation within the brain like, for instance, the decrease in glucose resulted in a reduced need for diabetes medicines in those having type 2 diabetes.

    They noticed that those who followed keto had greater satiety levels and positive variations in the levels of LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and heart health. Dieters that apparently availed the most benefit from this nutrition plan included people with type 2 diabetes and those with a high level of triglycerides in their bloodstream.

    The low-carb meal plan’s modern resurgence has shown more therapeutic advantages than anybody ever thought were possible. The diet has successfully treated several individuals with obesity and several other chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and even cancer (together with standard care).

    The diet that began in the 1920s, today almost after a century, has evolved and brought forth various versions. There are four kinds of eating forms:
    • SKD or standard ketogenic diet: This meal plan is a very low-carb, high-fat, and moderate protein diet. It usually contains 70% fat, 20% protein, and just 10% carbs.
    • CKD or cyclical ketogenic diet: This meal plan allows higher-carb periods occasionally in between keto diet cycles, for instance, 5 keto days that are succeeded by 2 high-carb days in a cycle.
    • TKD or targeted ketogenic diet: This meal plan allows adding extra carbs at the time of intense physical activity.
    • HPKD or high-protein ketogenic diet: This meal plan includes more amounts of protein and a ratio that is nearly 60% fat, 35% protein, and 5% carbs, but as it can be observed, it’s still a high-fat diet.

    The standard ketogenic diet and the high-protein ketogenic diet have been utilized extensively. The targeted and cyclical ketogenic diets have been recently added and mostly preferred by athletes or bodybuilders.


    Can you live longer by following the keto diet?

    This question is worth exploring, particularly as human beings are living longer yet experiencing illnesses and diseases frequently related to lifestyle and dietary choices. Below we will discuss some scientific evidence currently present on the capability of low-carb nutrition for longevity:


    Ketogenic Nutrition Plan & Neurodegenerative Disease

    While we take steps to treat illness and raise human lifespan, we are faced with a disturbing reality of neurodegenerative diseases. They remain one of the largest risks to your aim of living longer. After all, these debilitating illnesses affect an alarming 50 percent of individuals at the age of 85 or above.

    If the prize of longevity lies within neurodegenerative diseases, there isn’t any better idea to begin than Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is responsible for 60-80 percent of cases of dementia, which is a condition that is characterized by loss of memory and behavioral variations.

    No known treatment exists today for Alzheimer’s disease. The best advice given by doctors is keeping your mind active, like adopting a new interest in something. However, for a fatal illness like Alzheimer’s disease, it is difficult to believe if this is sufficient.

    Luckily, scientists are focusing on finding the reason behind Alzheimer’s. It largely seems to be an issue of metabolism of brain energy, particularly in those brain parts that fail to make use of energy derived from glucose. So, Alzheimer’s is primarily an energy shortage within the brain.

    Good mental health plays an instrumental role in living a more fulfilling and longer life, specifically with debilitating cognition-associated illnesses like Alzheimer’s.

    This brings us to the question: If Alzheimer’s disease is mainly a metabolic disease, can it be treated by a diet? Plus, if glucose occurs to be the culprit, can an alternative energy source help in preventing, treating, and even reversing this condition?

    Research has shown possible protective impacts of a keto meal plan, which include:
    1. Ketogenic diet for neurodegenerative disease: Following keto can potentially help to reduce neurodegenerative disorders and improve cognitive performance related to age – both these factors can immensely influence your general well-being as you advance in age.

    2. Protective impacts of BHB (beta-hydroxybutyrate): BHB, which is one of the most well-researched ketone bodies, can prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Moreover, this ketone body plays a beneficial role in maintaining brain health. In addition to this, scientists in a double-blind study found that ketone bodies can provide nearly 60 percent of the required brain’s energy and proposed that oral administration of ketones can decrease glucose needs and improve cognition.

    To support this result, some pioneering doctors are getting life-changing outcomes possible through eating patterns. Most notable amongst these is Dale Bredesen, who is also the author of the book
    The End of Alzheimer’s and has successfully treated more than 100 patients with Alzheimer’s disease with his treatment approach. A shift of metabolism from glucose (sugar) to fat through the keto diet and fasting lies at the center of his protocols.


    3. Ketogenic ration for cognitive impairment: Ketogenic ration has been revealed to have beneficial impacts on individuals with cognitive impairment as a result of Alzheimer’s disease, offering an alternative energy source for glucose.


    Ketogenic Diet & Cognition

    If a keto nutrition plan can offer cognitive advantages to people with epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease, then what about healthy individuals? Can low-carb nutrition offer those without illness a cognitive increase in their daily lives? Yes, it might.

    Research may be limited, however, with numerous anecdotes available to derive from, it can be proposed that diet can promote cognition, performance, and focus. Here are some leading theories:
    1. Enhancing mitochondrial function
    One of the theories regarding longevity focuses on ensuring the optimal health of your mitochondria for living longer because they are in charge of energy synthesis in the cells of your body. Being in the state of ketosis has been shown to have huge beneficial impacts on the mitochondrial function by:
    • Increasing the antioxidant levels within the mitochondria
    • Raising the mitochondrial number in the hippocampal nerve cells, which happens to be vital for optimal function of the brain, in rats
    • Promoting the synthesis of new mitochondria in affected brains and similar to exercise, provides a mitochondrial increase to healthy people. It is possible that low carb nutrition does that by a similar mechanism.
    • Decreasing the reactive oxygen species number, which in high concentration are damaging for the cell structures of mitochondria

    2. A more efficacious energy source
    Glucose (sugar) is frequently referred to as the preferred fuel for the brain. However, just because it is consumed first, does not mean it is our best energy source. It has been seen that it is ketones, which produce more energy plus break down cleaner with much less damage due to oxidative stress. And with a good energy input (ketone bodies), we can expect a good output (cognition).
    3. Alleviation of brain fog
    The commonly occurring “slow brain’ problem is caused by increased levels of ammonia and decreased levels of GABA. A low-carb meal plan addresses both these factors by eliminating excess ammonia along with enhancing the signaling of GABA. This can be one of the reasons behind the mental clarity that is frequently reported by individuals on a low-carb diet.
    All of this is an interesting field to observe as scientific research on keto continues to evolve.



    Although not particularly to ketosis, simply the whole and low-carb foods included in the keto nutrition plan give us a plethora of benefits. These benefits protect us against common disorders related to poor dietary habits, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

    Growing old without any of these concerns eliminates the likelihood of dying due to them, which happens to be definitely good for general life expectancy.

    We have seen above how keto is effective in improving cognition and providing protection against neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This will undoubtedly assist us in living better.

    There are two new scientific studies that further support the notion that a ketogenic meal plan may help in increasing both life span and healthspan.

    In Verdin’s investigation, researchers administered rats either a carb-based control meal plan comprising 13-17 percent fats (carb calories compensating for the majority of the difference) or a ketogenic meal plan with 70-90% of their everyday calories from fats.

    Rats on a higher fat diet (a ketogenic meal plan) lived longer, had a 14 percent higher median lifespan as compared to the control group, and they survived better. The keto diet slowed their cognitive decline along with preserving their motor performance as they advanced in age.

    The authors concluded clear results that the lifespan of mice increased by consuming a low-carb meal plan relative to the control group.

    If these outcomes translated into human beings, it would relate to an added 7-10 years of lifespan. Some specialists are as such more gauged in their appraisal of these results. Susan Weiner, a diabetes instructor, and a dietician, agrees with the promising nature of the outcomes, however, she alerts that it’s quite early to suggest the dietary plan to every individual.

    While for others, the outcomes of this research are a big win. According to Dr. Eric Verdin, senior author and a chief executive officer and president of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, the conclusion drawn out of this research is a robust impact with both the investigations reinforcing one another as they reveal the same overall impact on healthspan.

    So how the ketogenic diet improved longevity? Investigators still do not know exactly.

    The present theories include greater neuroprotective energy pathways, improved efficiency of mitochondria (energy), and suppression of appetite that can lead to the same effect of calorie-restriction, which is revealed to enhance life expectancy in a large number of animals.

    Plus, it is loosely associated with the longer life expectancy shown in the majority of the renowned blue zone population groups of the world.

    However, one of the strongest clues comes from a long-standing signaling pathway known as mTOR. It is seen that stimulating mTOR results in the growth of your body, and inhibiting it directs your body for repair.

    So, in order to live a longer life, you are required to inhibit the mTOR pathway and one of the most effective ways of doing that is through restricting carbs, fueling mostly with fats, and moderating protein – all key characteristics of the keto diet.

    It is seen that one of the major advantages of low-carb nutrition is weight reduction, so this dietary plan may also help increase the lifespan through this manner.

    Being obese and overweight can result in several serious and life-threatening diseases like some forms of cancers, stroke, coronary heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. So, by reducing excess weight, you can potentially live longer.

    Numerous studies indicate how effective is the ketogenic diet in reducing visceral fat (a dangerous form of fat that predisposes your health to various diseases) as compared to low-fat diets.

    A study that involved 69 overweight males and females found that those following a low-carb meal plan lost 10% greater visceral fat along with 4.4% greater total fat relative to those following a low-fat meal plan.




    The Keto Diet compared with Western Diet

    As discussed above, scientific studies related to an anti-aging and low-carb meal plan is compelling for keto’s beneficial role for longevity. However, the downfall is that majority of the keto nutrition plan and ketosis research, within this range, is confined to animal research.

    This is comprehensible as longevity trial on human beings following the keto diet would require a long duration for properly testing its impacts on the normal aging process of humans.

    Nevertheless, the low-carb diet certainly does not apparently block our likelihood of longevity particularly when we see all its offered benefits – specifically as compared to what most of the people in the western world consume, which is large amounts of sugars, processed carbs, and other packed foods that render hardly any nutritional value.

    It is quite safe to state that the damage that results from this pattern of eating happens to be far more serious in the long run.



    The Takeaway Message – Keto Diet for Longevity

    The keto diet, apart from providing a great amount of nutrition that is derived from whole food sources, also yields a positive influence on weight, satiety, blood sugar, and energy source for the brain that is getting old. All of these areas require support as far as living a long, happy life is concerned.

    While we are still trying to understand the capability of a low-carb nutrition plan, the ever-increasing body of scientific evidence is establishing this diet as one of the most interesting health trends that have happened in the past 100 years.

    However, it might not be an antidote, but a low-carb meal plan seems to help us in unlocking pathways for regulating our body and mind, fighting disease, and slowing aging.

    Does the keto diet possess the potential to reverse chronic diseases and live longer?

    For many chronic diseases, the research is evident such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease, etc. For longevity, it’s too soon to tell yet what is present is really very supportive.
    Last edited by Sandi Lewis; 07-04-2020, 11:11 AM.

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