Science Square

  • Issue 119 / September - October 2017



    Eat fat, live longer?

    The Fountain

    Roberts MN et al. A Ketogenic Diet Extends Longevity and Healthspan in Adult Mice. Cell Metabolism, September 2017.


    As more people live into their ’80s and ’90s, scientists focus more on the issues of healthy aging. A recent study proved controversial when it demonstrated that a high fat, or ketogenic, diet not only increases longevity but also improves physical strength and memory. In the study, scientists raised three groups of mice: a high-carb diet, a low carb/high-fat diet, and a ketogenic diet. Researchers found that not only did the ketogenic diet significantly increased the median life span of the mice but it also augmented memory capacity and motor function and reduced age-related markers of inflammation and tumor incidences. A 13% increase in median life span for mice corresponds to 7-10 years in humans. Importantly, it’s not simply an extension, but a higher quality of life, too. The ketogenic diet is basically an extreme version of a low-carb/high-fat diet, in which your carb intake must not exceed an equivalent of a single apple per day. A typical ketogenic diet includes seafood, low-carb vegetables, cheese, avocados, nuts, seeds, and beef and poultry. The ketogenic diet exploits the natural metabolic response: when mammals like humans or mice run out of glucose, a process called ketosis starts and the body starts to burn fat as a primary energy source. One important challenge of the "keto diet" is that it contains few vitamins or other vital nutrients, making dietary supplements necessary. Despite the exciting findings, nutritionists warn that our bodies can't run on fat alone and everything, including carbohydrates, should be eaten and enjoyed in moderation.


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