Ketogenic Diets Improve Brain Function And Longevity In Aging Male Mice

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Researchers have uncovered a probable mechanism underlying the advantages reported in aging male mice on ketogenic diets, or “keto diets,” for short.

They propose that cycling male mice between a control and a ketogenic diet improves signaling between synapses in the brain.

Previously, one of the paper’s authors, John Newman, MD, PhD, conducted a proof-of-concept study showing that feeding male mice a cyclic ketogenic diet lowered their midlife risk of death and reversed cognitive deterioration associated with normal aging.

“After reading two seminal papers published in 2017 that showed its beneficial roles in the overall health of aged mice, including brain performance, we decided to study the effect of the ketogenic diet,” said Christian Gonza lez-Billault, professor at the Universidad de Chile, director of the Geroscience Center for Brain Health and Metabolism (GERO), and Adjunct Professor at The Buck Institute for Research on Aging, lead author of the new study on keto diets and aging.

In these two [previous] works, the authors showed improvement in specific behavioral tasks routinely used in animal experimentation to evaluate memory and learning,” according to him.

For the first 12 weeks, these mice’s metabolic parameters were examined, and for the next 5 weeks, the mice were kept on their diets and tested behaviorally.

The study found that the ketogenic diet was associated with decreased blood sugar, enhanced memory, and motor skills in older mice. Researchers discovered enhanced plasticity in the hippocampal brain area of elderly mice.

Further testing revealed that the enhanced plasticity observed in mice fed a ketogenic diet alternated with a control diet was due to a substance known as a ketone body, which is formed when glucose levels are low and activates a signaling pathway between synapses.

“We concentrate on aged mice since prior research found that the effect of the diet in young animals was milder and, in some circumstances, did not differ significantly from a control diet. These prior antecedents indicate that one of the diet’s beneficial effects would be to preserve resilience in elderly mice, boosting their physiological functioning as they age,” stated González-Billault.

“This concept is fundamental in the aging field because it relates to the difference between lifespan (all our vital trajectory from when we are born until the day we die) and healthspan (the part of our vital trajectory free from chronic diseases),” he told me.

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