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High Fat Diet May Lead to Longer Life, Shows New Study

by John Rosca / Sep 18, 2017 11:45 AM EDT
Keto Snack Box

A ketogenic diet, which is high in fat, has been shown to increase longevity and strength in mice, according to researchers at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Although the study was done on laboratory mice, the results are worth noting for lending plausibility to the popular idea that the so-called "keto diet" is good for the human body.

Men's Health explains that in a ketogenic diet, fat comprises 60 to 80 percent of one's total calorie consumption, while protein makes up 10 to 15 percent and carbohydrates less than 10 percent. A keto diet is comparable to an Atkins diet, but it places greater restrictions on the consumption of carbohydrates while being more moderate in its restrictions on protein.

When the body is starved for carbohydrates, it draws energy from stored reserves of fat, breaking them down. In the liver, ketone molecules are produced from the broken-down fatty acids. The brain needs glucose to function, and a low carbohydrate intake will cause it to depend on ketones as an alternative. That's the mechanism behind the ketogenic diet, explaining why it demands a high level of fat intake-fat is essential for the production of ketones to fuel the brain.

Since mice are also mammals with brains and livers and fatty acids, it is possible that the mechanism works similarly in mice as it does in humans, although that cannot be said for certain at this time. But the results of the UC Davis research are intriguing. The study has been published under the title "A Ketogenic Diet Extends Longevity and Healthspan in Adult Mice" in the September issue of the journal "Cell Metabolism."

Jon Ramsey, the senior author of the research paper, told UC Davis News that there was a significant improvement in the longevity and physical strength of mice fed a high-fat diet compared to mice on a high-carb diet. "We expected some differences," said Ramsay, "but I was impressed by the magnitude we observed - a 13 percent increase in median lifespan for the mice on a high-fat versus high-carb diet. In humans, that would be seven to 10 years."

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