Ketogenic diets could help slow ageing – yes, really!

Ketogenic diets could help slow ageing – yes, really!


Unfortunately, time and ageing eventually come for us all. That doesn’t mean we can’t try and delay it as much as possible though, does it?

Unless you’ve got millions of pounds to spend on Sharon Osbourne’s plastic surgeon, you only really have a couple of options. The first is to put your trust in those anti-ageing creams, but that’s only really papering over the cracks.

The second is to lead a healthier lifestyle, and it turns out that ketogenic diets may actually be able to slow down the ageing process.

It’s true – low carb, ketogenic diets can help prevent or delay the onset of illnesses relating to old age, including Alzheimer’s, heart disease and even cancer.

When you ‘starve’ yourself of carbohydrates, your body releases a chemical called β-hydroxybutyrate (βOHB), which is hard to pronounce, but it’s quite handy in that it protects cells from the stress that leads to ageing.

In a study, subjects had a low-calorie diet, which caused levels of βOHB in the body to rise. This in turn lead to the inhibition of certain enzymes in the body called histone deacetylases (HDACs), which activated the genes Foxo3a and Mt2. Keeping up with this?

It all sounds quite complicated – and it is – but the important thing is that the activation of those genes in the body protects cells from internal stress, and it’s this which can help battle the ageing process.

Study co-author Dr Katerina Akassoglou from the Gladstone Institute for Virology and Immunology in San Francisco, said: ‘The findings could be relevant for a wide range of neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism and traumatic brain injury.

‘[These] diseases afflict millions and there are few treatment options.’

Study co-author Dr Eric Verdin said: ‘Over the years, studies have found that restricting calories slows aging and increases longevity, however, the mechanism of this effect has remained elusive.

‘Here, we find that βOHB, the body’s major source of energy during exercise or fasting, blocks a class of enzymes that would otherwise promote stress, thus protecting cells from aging.’

The plan for the researchers is to next try and work out what effects ketogenic diets have on brain and heart function.


What are ketogenic diets?

If you need a quick lesson on what ketogenic diets are, here you go…

Ketogenic diets are essentially diets that specifically restrict the number of carbohydrates consumed. Some ketogenic diets are also referred to as high in fat, but they key is to reduce the amount of carbs.

By doing, so the body is put into a metabolic state called ketosis whereby fat is burned as the primary energy source rather than glucose.