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Keto Diet’s Surprising Effects on Aging Brains: More Than Just Weight Loss

Daniel Kim Views  

Medical Today

New research findings have discovered a potential mechanism by which a ketogenic (keto) diet may enhance brain function.

Published in Cell Reports Medicine, the results of the study show the mechanism by which the keto diet improves the brain performance of aged male mice.

The researchers compared and analyzed 19 male mice aged 20 to 23 months after providing them with either a control diet or a keto diet.

For the first 12 weeks, the metabolic parameters of these mice were measured, and for 5 weeks after that, mice were kept on their diets and subjected to behavioral testing.

The results indicated that a keto diet was associated with lower blood sugar, and improved memory and motor skills in older mice. The researchers explained that improved plasticity appeared in the hippocampus, one of the brain regions of old mice.

Upon further testing, the study revealed that this improved plasticity seen in mice kept on a keto diet was due to a molecule called a ketone body, which is produced when levels of glucose are low. The ketone body is believed to have activated a signaling pathway between the synapses.

Meanwhile, the ketogenic diet, also commonly known as a low-carb, high-fat diet, aims to reduce insulin resistance in the body by reducing foods containing carbohydrates and increasing foods containing fats.

In addition to animal research, small studies involving humans have suggested that the keto diet may enhance cognitive abilities, particularly in older adults with dementia.

Experts explained that the mechanisms are underpinned by decreased inflammation, improved blood sugar control, and the potential of ketones to support brain function. However, they added that since the research is still in its early stages, larger clinical studies are needed to confirm these potential benefits.

Experts also stressed that unlike the Mediterranean diet or DASH diet which can be maintained without much difficulty, the keto diet is very difficult to stick to over a long period due to the drastic decline in carbohydrate intake.

The Mediterranean and DASH diets are two of the most recommended and science-backed diets for healthy aging.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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