Do Ketogenic Diets Trigger Aging?

A new study published in Science Advances has investigated the potential downsides of ketogenic diets. While keto diets are popular for weight loss and some health conditions, this research suggests they may also trigger cellular aging in vital organs.

Key findings of the study:

  • Cellular senescence in organs: Mice fed a ketogenic diet showed signs of cellular senescence in multiple organs, including the heart and kidneys. Cellular senescence is basically when cells stop dividing and can contribute to age-related decline.
  • Mechanism behind the effect: The study identifies a potential mechanism for this cellular aging. It involves a signalling pathway triggered by AMPK (an enzyme) and caspase-2 (a protein), ultimately leading to increased p53 and p21 proteins, which are linked to cellular senescence.
  • Potential implications: The build-up of senescent cells in organs like the heart and kidneys could contribute to inflammation and organ damage. This suggests potential long-term health risks associated with long-term ketogenic diets.
  • Possible solutions:┬áThe study also offered some hope. They found that interrupting the keto diet with periods of regular eating (intermittent keto) could prevent this cellular senescence. Additionally, there are drugs being developed that target and eliminate senescent cells, which could be a future avenue for mitigating the potential downsides of keto.

Overall, the study highlights the need for a more nuanced understanding of the effects of ketogenic diets. While they may offer benefits, there could also be downsides, particularly with long-term use. As the study was conducted on mice, more research is needed to confirm these findings in humans and explore potential strategies to mitigate any risks.