Is it possible to slow down or roll back your aging clock by what you are eating? Most people would agree that what you eat can have a significant impact on your health and aging. But what foods should you focus on to help you tap into the proverbial fountain of youth? Mounting evidence, through research and case studies, is demonstrating the value of adopting a ketogenic diet to reverse the aging process and help with a number of chronic, metabolic diseases including Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, neurological disease and cancer.
What Are Ketones?
Ketogenic diets get their name from an alternative fuel source your body can produce called ketone bodies, or simply called ketones. When blood glucose levels become low, your liver breaks down fatty acids, which are converted into ketones. Your brain and heart rely on ketones as a vital energy source during periods of fasting. This is a valuable survival mechanism passed down by our ancestors, who may have had to go several days or longer without eating. Without this survival mechanism, the human race would no longer be.
What Is A Ketogenic Diet?
Ketogenic diets are high in healthy fats, from sources such as avocados, coconut oil, raw nuts and seeds, and grass-fed sources of eggs, cheese, butter and meats. Adequate protein is included and carbohydrates are very limited. Under these ratios, your body shifts from relying on glucose as a fuel source to converting fatty acids to ketones as a “clean” fuel source. The mitochondria of your cells can produce energy from either glucose or ketones. During this process of energy production free radicals are also produced, which can damage your mitochondria. Free radical production is much less when the mitochondria are using ketones instead of glucose as a fuel source.
Is Ketosis Safe?
Once your metabolism has shifted to burning ketones as fuel, this is referred to as nutritional ketosis. Healthcare professionals can sometimes confuse this with ketoacidosis, which is completely different and can be a life-threatening situation, often associated with uncontrolled Type 1 Diabetes.
Another common misunderstanding is the safety of relatively high amounts of saturated fats potentially consumed on a ketogenic diet. Saturated fats, in and of themselves, have been shown to have numerous health benefits. It is when these saturated fats are combined with a diet high in carbohydrates that we see chronic disease rates skyrocket. If you do have any chronic health issues, you need to discuss with your healthcare provider if a ketogenic diet is safe.
Anti-Aging and Ketosis
Being in a state of nutritional ketosis helps improve mitochondrial function and reduces damage by free radicals. Ketones have also been shown to reduce inflammation, act as antioxidants and reduce oxidation, especially in the brain. Ketones also promote the internal production of glutathione, the most powerful antioxidant found in your body.
Ways To Promote Ketosis In Your Cells
As discussed above, your body shifts to ketosis when eating a diet high in healthy fats and low in carbohydrates. Some other strategies to help promote nutritional ketosis include a form of intermittent fasting by limiting the time you eat within a 6-8 hour span each day. Also incorporating medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oils promotes the production of ketones. Coconut oil is a rich source of MCT oil.
Chronic Diseases and a Ketogenic Diet
There are many patients with chronic conditions that are seeing positive results using a ketogenic diet. It is interesting to note historically, the ketogenic diet was developed in the early 1900’s to reduce or stop epileptic seizures that were unresponsive to medications. Currently, adopting a ketogenic diet has shown benefits such as improving cognitive function with Alzheimer’s disease, reducing tremors with Parkinson’s disease, improving insulin sensitivity in Type 2 Diabetes, and reducing obesity.