We all want to live a long and healthy life, free of debilitating diseases or the pains of later life. While none of us can live forever, there are ways to take care of ourselves now and increase the chances of staying healthy and active even into our golden years. We know that the ketogenic diet has many benefits. But what about when it comes to longevity? In this article, we’ll cover some of the different ways you can use ketosis to promote longevity, and how these methods show promise for promoting a healthy state as we get older.
Can We Live Longer in Ketosis?
This is a question worth exploring, especially as humans are increasingly living longer, yet suffering from diseases often related to diet and lifestyle choices. Here are some of the current studies on the potential of keto for longevity:
Ketosis and Mitochondria
One theory about longevity is that the key to longevity is to take care of our mitochondria. Mitochondria are the power plants of your cells and are responsible for producing energy through ATP. We know that ketosis promotes the production of new mitochondria in the diseased brain and, just like exercise, gives healthy people a mitochondrial boost. Ketosis may also do this through a similar mechanism.
Ketosis and Aging-Related Disease
Diseases associated with aging obviously have a huge impact on longevity, so it is significant to study the effects of keto on these diseases. Here are some of the ways in which ketosis shows potential benefits:
- Giving acetoacetate ketones in mouse models has been shown to have a protective effect on neurotoxicity in brain cells.
- A small study showed positive results in patients with Parkinson’s disease after receiving a 28-day ketogenic diet.
- Another small study showed ketones given orally to adults with Alzheimer’s disease every day improved cognition within 90 days.
Larger studies in humans are needed, but these results may suggest that ketone bodies and ketosis have beneficial qualities in protecting us from the decline that occurs in many of our fellow humans as we age.
A mouse study was conducted using two different groups, with one group fed a ketogenic diet that derived 70 to 90 percent of its calories from fat. The control group had a much larger proportion of carbohydrates in their diet, with only 13 to 17 percent of their daily calories coming from fat.
Mice following the high-fat ketogenic regimen had reduced midlife mortality and longer life spans, as well as improved cognitive function, compared to the high-carbohydrate group. In addition, motor function, muscle mass and skeletal muscle were preserved in older ketogenic mice.
Although these studies were conducted in animal trials, the results are promising, so there is hope that the same findings will be reproduced in humans. Since the fat-burning state of ketosis is similar to the mechanism of caloric restriction, humans following a keto diet may have a greater lifespan.
Keto for Mental Longevity
Mental health is an important part of living longer and more fulfilling lives, especially with the debilitating cognitive-related diseases we now commonly see in the aging population, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Research suggests that a ketogenic diet may have protective effects, including:
- Ketosis for neurodegenerative conditions: Following a ketogenic diet may be able to help reduce neurodegenerative disease and improve age-related cognition, both of which can greatly affect quality of life as we get older.
- Protective effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate: In particular, the ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate may be able to provide protective protection against Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, beta-hydroxybutyrate plays a key role in brain health.
- Ketosis for cognitive impairment: Ketosis has been shown to be beneficial in adults with memory impairment in Alzheimer’s disease, providing an alternative fuel source to glucose.
Not only does the ketogenic diet provide high levels of nutrition through whole food sources, it also promotes positive effects on blood sugar, weight, satiety and a source of fuel for the aging brain, all areas that need support when it comes to living longer and happier.