A low-carb diet may help reverse brain aging

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In a new study from Stony Brook University, researchers found a low-carb diet may prevent or even reverse the effects of aging in the brain.

They also found that the neurobiological changes linked to aging are evident in a person’s late 40s.

To better understand how diet influences brain aging, the research team focused on the pre-symptomatic period when prevention may be most effective.

In the study, they found that functional communication between brain regions destabilizes with age, typically in the late 40’s. The destabilization correlates with poorer cognition and accelerates insulin resistance.

The researchers showed that the consumption of different fuel sources can reliably modulate this biomarker for brain aging. Glucose decreases the stability of brain networks. Ketones increase stability.

The team replicated this effect across both changes to total diet as well as after drinking a fuel-specific calorie-matched supplement.

They found it is possible to prevent or reverse aging effects with diet, mitigating the impact of encroaching hypometabolism by exchanging glucose for ketones as fuel for neurons.

When giving the brain a more efficient fuel source, in the form of ketones, either by following a low-carb diet {for example: meat or fish with salad, but no sugar, grains, rice, starchy vegetables) or drinking ketone supplements, they were able to provide the brain with greater energy.

Even in younger individuals, this added energy further stabilized brain networks.

The team says the fact that ketones provide greater energy to cells than glucose, even with calorically matched fuels, may explain this.

Research has previously shown this benefits the heart, but the current set of experiments provides the first evidence for equivalent effects in the brain.

The team says this effect matters because brain aging, and especially dementia, are associated with ‘hypometabolism,’ in which neurons gradually lose the ability to effectively use glucose as fuel.

Therefore, if scientists can increase the amount of energy available to the brain by using a different fuel, the hope is that they can restore the brain to more youthful functioning.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about this type of antibiotic drug may effectively treat common dementia and findings of statin and blood pressure drug combos may help reduce dementia risk.

For more information about dementia prevention and treatment, please see recent studies about this common gut disease linked to doubling in dementia risk and results showing that a new, complex form of dementia.

The study is published in PNAS. One author of the study is Lilianne R. Mujica-Parodi.

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