Can Keto Diets Slow Down Brain-Aging?
In recent years, low-carb diets have gained popularity among people who try to lead a healthy lifestyle and lose weight. The topic proved to be quite controversial, and now, adding fuel to the fire, a new study published in the PNAS journal suggests such nourishment could also prevent brain-aging.
It is a well-known fact that carbohydrates are the primary fuel for the body, and by extension, for the brain. That’s where an important question arises — how could depriving the body of its main source of energy possibly be beneficial for it?
While there is no one definite answer, the study suggests that forcing the body to enter a state of ketosis, by consuming fewer carbs, stabilizes functional networks and increases overall brain activity.
That, according to the researchers, proves the link between brain activity and different energy sources. In other words, when the brain uses primarily ketones for fuel instead of carbohydrates, its overall efficiency improves.
What the Metabolic Neuroimaging Scans of Nearly 1,000 People Showed
To prove their point, the researchers ran neuroimaging scans on close to 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 88.
The participants spent a week on different diets — a standard diet, involving glucose as the main fuel; a low-carb diet, which forced the body to metabolize ketones; and a diet entailing intermittent fasting.
Then, as a follow-up to the experiment, the researchers asked an independent group of volunteers to fast overnight (while following their standard diets) and break the fast with a glucose drink one day and a keto beverage another.
Of course, the dosages were matched to the participants’ weight for optimal accuracy.
As a result of the study, the researchers concluded that:
- brain networks destabilize with age
- destabilization of brain networks starts at a much younger age than previously thought — at around 47
- ketosis stabilizes brain networks and could even reverse the process of degradation.
Take the Findings With a Grain of…Sugar
Undoubtedly, the study in question is interesting and deserves attention. However, experts recommend taking a more critical approach to it.
The brains of the volunteers were assessed upon them following a low-carbohydrate diet for just a week. Therefore, you should not be left with the impression that such a diet is good for both the body and the brain in the long term.
On the contrary — according to experts, it could lead to nutrient deficiencies, followed by numerous health problems.
Although keto diets have become extremely popular, people should be aware that they are not beneficial in all cases.
Studies on the different types of energy sources and the way they influence the brain definitely spark interest. However, further research must be conducted so that the safety and long-term results of such diets are accurately assessed.