Ketogenic diets aren’t your typical weight-loss diets.
Unlike other dietary fads, the ketogenic diet is founded on a chemical reaction from your body that results from a low-carb, high-fat diet that is supposed to convert fat to energy.
The best bit?
It’s not just personal anecdotes that are putting the spotlight on keto diets; the more studies are conducted, the more benefits scientists are revealing.
Here’s How Ketosis Works
Your body enters ketosis when it starts producing a lot of ketone bodies, which come from fatty acid metabolism in the liver.
By going low-carb, your body has a low supply of glucose, which is the body’s go-to source of energy.
Without carbs, the body is forced to turn to other sources of energy.
Here, the liver produces acids which can be broken down into energy. The acid supplied by the river is further broken down into two particles, which are called ketones.
Keto diets have been a gold mine for people who want to keep the weight off; after all, it has done wonders for 135,000 adults so far.
But like every other good thing, there’s a steep price to be paid for going low-carb and high-fat.
Because the body consumes a glucose alternative for energy, you end up getting less energy and power, which can slow you down in intensive activities like working out.
On the up side, this is great for people who have always had problem with maintaining a balance diet, and would like to their hand at a new way of eating.
Research suggests that ketosis isn’t only for people who want to look good.
These scientific forays into the wonders of keto diets revealed that it can do wonders for your memory and healthspan. At least, for mice.
Ketosis and Memory
In one study, mice were given three diets: no carbs, a nutrient-balanced diet, and a high fat diet with 15% carbohydrates.
Eventually, the scientists added carbs to the no carb diet group to figure out the baseline in which mine continue to experience ketosis—it was 15%.
The mice’s diets revolved around ketogenic, high-fat, and well-balanced for a week. After which, they were to eat their own assigned diets.
It’s interesting to note that the ketogenic and high-fat only mice didn’t do as well, with the latter ended up gaining more weight than the others, even though the ketogenic and the high-fat mice took in more calories than the control group.
When it comes to cognition wear, the ketogenic group showed normal rates of memory deterioration, but actually did better in visual, spatial, and memory tests than the other groups, which involved avoiding an electric shock.
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Through the mice’s middle life, at about 28 to 30 months, they showed improvements in recognizing new objects.
How does this help the human body?
Although the findings don’t promise a cure for dementia, they do provide hope for increasing the quality of life as our bodies go through midlife.
What the mice show is a possible boost in memory at an age where mental capacity starts to dwindle.
According to the lead researcher of the study:
“We’re very excited to see such a profound effect on brain function. Our results don’t imply this is going to work in humans. For that, we’ll need extensive clinical trials.”
Ketosis and Healthspan
A second study followed similar parameters of the first one, in that they also took in mice and subjected them to low-carb, high-fat, and a well-balanced diet.
Interestingly, this study found that the ketogenic group showed better rates of midlife mortality, as with the first group, and showed signs of a possibly longer healthspan.
Although the ketogenic group didn’t live out longer than the others, this batch of mice exhibited better physiological and mental control, which suggests that ketosis may be what the human body needs to usher the body gracefully through midlife.
How does this help the human body?
If ketosis is the secret to a longer healthspan—or the rate at which the body ages gracefully, with as little signs of physical and mental deterioration as possible—then it possible that the ketone bodies can be used outside of the chemical process.
In other words: in pill form.
In fact, pharmaceutical companies are looking into this possibility, hoping that there’s a way to trigger ketosis in the body without actually going through the diet.
If these effects can be understood better, it’s possible that ketosis can be started without having to alter diets in order to benefit from the cognitive and longevity benefits.
As researchers probe deeper into ketosis and what it can do for our memory and healthspan, what we’re left with are tried and tested anecdotes on the keto diets.
These may not be rocket science, but it’s good enough knowing that the keto diet has helped hundreds and thousands of people lose 100 lbs or more in just a short span of time.
While science does its piece, we can rest well knowing that going low-carb and high-fat does reduce weight. For now, that’s all we really need.
Correction: We changed the heading from “Research reveals the “profound effect” Ketogenic diets have on human health” to “Ketogenic diets have a “profound effect” and provide hope for human health: researchers” after an editorial review. The reason is that the lead research of the study in question suggests that “[o]ur results don’t imply this is going to work in humans”.
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