Ketogenic Diet Increases Life Longevity

CHRISTIE NEO / AGGIE

Study at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine finds ketogenic diet increases life expectancy

A recent study by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine shows that a high fat, low carb diet, more commonly known as the ketogenic diet, increases life expectancy and encourages healthy aging by improving physical characteristics such as muscle endurance.

“My lab’s main research has been aging and the impact diet has on aging,”  said Jon Ramsay, a UC Davis professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences.

While Ramsay was conducting research on calorie restriction, he noticed that mice would eat a high carb diet where the carbohydrates would later be converted to lipids, which is what the mice would be living on for the rest of the day.

“We had this question of: is that change in metabolism having some impact on aging? Is there a way we could test that?” Ramsay said.

Zeyu Zhang, a graduate student researcher in Ramsay’s lab, performed behavioral tests on the mice.

“We tested on muscle performance and cognitive function,” Zhang said.

For cognitive function, Zhang used a process called the Novel Object Recognition Test to evaluate recognition memory in rodents.

While Ramsay wasn’t shocked by the results, what surprised him was the number of benefits besides the lifespan increase — in every physiological measure, the mice on the ketogenic diet seemed to do better.

Professor Craig Warden from the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior affirmed that there was nothing that surprised him.

“The high quality randomized control trials in humans have already shown many health changes that are positive rather than negative for people eating ketogenic diets,” Warden said.

In the future, Ramsay plans to do more research in order to find less restrictive approaches that can induce periods of ketosis and whether or not those diets will have a benefit on longevity. Ramsay hopes to make the ketogenic diet easier to follow for humans.

 

Written by: Kriti Varghese — science@theaggie.org