Can the ketogenic diet increase memory and reduce mortality?


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Two new studies conducted in mice (it’s always mice, isn’t it?) , came to the same conclusion: the ketogenic, or “keto,” diet may improve memory in old age as well as prolong lifespan.

We might attribute pain and sickness to old age, but getting older does not necessarily mean getting sicker. Aging does involve a degree of decline in how we can function, but it doesn’t have to be debilitating and isolating. Unfortunately. many diets prescribed for the elderly call for high-carb, processed foods and these might not be the best, nutritionally. The ketogenic diet, aims to reduce carbohydrate intake in favor of consuming more fat and sufficient protein. Recent studies studies have variously linked it with weight loss benefits, adjuvant cancer therapy, and some epilepsy treatments.

One study – led by Drs. Eric Verdin and John Newman, both from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, CA – looked at the effect of the keto diet on aging mice. The second study – led by Dr. John Ramsey, from the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine – looked at adult mice and had similar findings about the impact of the keto diet, with the addition that it may also improve strength and coordination.

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The Buck Institute team found that a keto diet fed to mice on a cyclical basis – that is, alternated with the control diet – prevented obesity, reduced mid-life mortality, and prevented memory loss. “The older mice on the ketogenic diet had a better memory than the younger mice. That’s really remarkable,” says Dr. Verdin. The keto diet can raise the concentration of beta-hydroxybutyrate acid (BHB) in the body, which, the researchers note, improves memory function.

We’re all getting older and death is, of course, inevitable. But what we can control to a degree is the quality of life along the way. People are now living longer, but we’re also getting sicker by following the standard diet of the majority. The ketogenic diet might help seniors improve their health, so they can actually thrive, rather than be sick or in pain during the later years of life.

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