Let’s face it, the most delicious things in life are typically full of fat and they’re bad for our health. Right? That might have been the general consensus for decades, yet opinions on the topic are changing. Many studies have shown that eating good fats can be beneficial to your overall health, including this latest paper published in Cell Metabolism journal, that shows a high fat diet greatly improves memory, coordination, endurance and strength in aging animals.
“The results surprised me a little,” said nutritionist Jon Ramsey, senior author of the paper. “We expected some differences, but I was impressed by the magnitude we observed — a 13 percent increase in median life span for the mice on a high fat diet vs high carb diet. In humans, that would be seven to 10 years. But equally important, those mice retained quality of health in later life.”
This development emerges from a study conducted at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine wherein senior mice were given a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet – also known as the ketogenic diet – to see how that affected the ageing process.
The ketogenic diet has become an increasingly popular nutritional tool in recent years that functions through a process called ketosis, where carbohydrate intake is so low that the body switches from using glucose as its main source to burning fat and ketones to generate energy. But not all of the mice were on this diet.
The animals were divided into three groups: one that had a normal high-carb rodent diet, the second that had a low carb/high-fat diet, and a ketogenic diet (85-90% of calories are from fat).
When taking part in memory, endurance and strength tasks, the group on the ketogenic diet outperformed the mice in the other two groups. The diet increased the animals’ life span as well as boosting motor functions, reducing age-related inflammation markers and reducing the incidence of tumors.
“In this case, many of the things we’re looking at aren’t much different from humans,” Ramsey said. “At a fundamental level, humans follow similar changes and experience a decrease in overall function of organs during aging. This study indicates that a ketogenic diet can have a major impact on life and health span without major weight loss or restriction of intake. It also opens a new avenue for possible dietary interventions that have an impact on aging.”
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