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Diet Awareness Behavior Diabetes

Long-Term Ketogenic Diet Accumulates Aged Cells In Normal Tissues

1 month, 3 weeks ago

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Posted on May 28, 2024, 3 p.m.

Maintaining a continuous long-term ketogenic diet may induce the accumulation of aged cells (senescence) in normal tissues, and this has particular implications for heart and kidney function. However, taking a break from the highly restrictive diet could help with prevention attempts. 

Previously the strict and hard-to-adherence to ketogenic diet has become a valuable tool for some people with diabetes, but more recently it has become popular for weight loss. Keto-friendly may not be so friendly after all, according to a new study published in Science Advances led by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio). 

The researchers found that a continuous long-term ketogenic diet may induce the accumulation of aged cells (senescence) in normal tissues, and this has particular implications for heart and kidney function. The researchers suggest that an intermittent ketogenic diet, which includes planned breaks from the diet, did not exhibit any pro-inflammatory effects due to senescent cells. 

"To put this in perspective, 13 million Americans use a ketogenic diet, and we are saying that you need to take breaks from this diet or there could be long-term consequences," said David Gius, MD, PhD, assistant dean of research and professor with the Department of Radiation Oncology in the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio, and associate cancer director for translational research at the institution's Mays Cancer Center.

Too much of anything, even if it might be good, can have negative effects

A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that leads to the generation of ketones, which are a type of chemical that the liver produces when it breaks down fats. But too much of anything, even when it is supposed to be good for you can have the opposite effects, and the keto diet is no exception to this rule. While this diet when adhered to, can help some people improve certain health conditions including weight loss, negative pro-inflammatory effects are also reported. 

This study shows that mice on two different ketogenic diets, at different stages, displayed induced cellular senescence in multiple organs, including the heart and kidney. It also showed that the cellular senescence was eliminated by a senolytic class of small molecules that destroyed the aged cells, which was accomplished by the administration of an intermittent ketogenic diet regimen. 

"As cellular senescence has been implicated in the pathology of organ disease, our results have important clinical implications for understanding the use of a ketogenic diet," Gius said. "As with other nutrient interventions, you need to 'take a keto break.' 

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. 

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