A low carbohydrate diet may prevent and even turn around age-related harm to the brain, inquire about has found.
By examining brain scans, specialists found that brain pathways start to break down in our late 40s – sooner than was believed.
“Neurobiological changes associated with aging can be seen at a much younger age than would be expected, in the late 40s,” said Lilianne R Mujica-Parodi, a professor in the department of biomedical engineering at Stony Brook University in New York.
“However, the study also suggests that this process may be prevented or reversed based on dietary changes that involve minimizing the consumption of simple carbohydrates,” added Mujica-Parodi.
To more readily see how diet impacts brain aging, scientists focused on youngsters whose minds gave no indications of aging. This is the period during which prevention might be best.
Utilizing brain scans of about 1,000 people between the ages of 18 to 88, scientists found that the harm to neural pathways quickened relying upon where the brain was getting its energy from. Glucose, they found, diminished the stability of the brain’s networks while ketones – produced by the liver during periods of carbohydrate restrictive diets – made the networks more stable.
“What we found with these experiments involves both bad and good news,” said Mujica-Parodi, “The bad news is that we see the first signs of brain aging much earlier than was previously thought.
“However, the good news is that we may be able to prevent or reverse these effects with diet … by exchanging glucose for ketones as fuel for neurons,” she added in the study, which is published in PNAS.
“We think that, as people get older, their brains start to lose the ability to metabolize glucose efficiently, causing neurons to slowly starve, and brain networks to destabilize,” said Mujica-Parodi. “So we tested whether giving the brain a more efficient fuel source, in the form of ketones, either by following a low-carb diet or drinking ketone supplements, could provide the brain with greater energy. Even in younger individuals, this added energy further stabilized brain networks.”
A ketogenic diet is one high in fats and proteins, and low in carbohydrates, forcing the body to consume fats as opposed to carbohydrates. Fundamentally used to treat a few forms of epilepsy in children, it is likewise believed that it can support other neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Katy Stubbs, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said the exploration was “very interesting” however required more investigation. “The ketogenic diet has risks of its own,” she said. “It has been shown that eating such high levels of fat, which generally goes with people eating less fruit and vegetables, has a detrimental impact on your heart, which has dangerous side effects.
“Also, there is a huge amount of evidence showing that the Mediterranean diet is the best diet we’ve got so far for brain and heart,” she added. “That includes a lot of whole grains. We’re going to need a lot more research if the ketogenic diet is going to be widely recommended as an alternative to that approach as prevention against dementia.”