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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

Keto Diet May Cause Organ Damage, Mouse Study Finds

Mice fed a particular type of ketogenic diet accumulated so-called senescent cells in their organs, researchers reported.

Keto dieters typically obtain 70% to 80% of their calories from fat and only 5% to 10% from carbohydrates

Mitch Leslie in Science Advances detailed the findings.

The same kind of cells build up in our bodies as we age and can impair the functions of tissues. The study also found no increase in senescent cells in mice that took regular breaks from the diet.

The rationale behind ketogenic diets is that cutting the consumption of carbohydrates—a class of molecules used by cells as fuel—forces the body to burn fat instead. To feed cells that subsist on carbs, the liver pumps out molecules called ketones, hence the diet’s name.

A doctor at the Mayo Clinic devised the regimen in the 1920s to treat epilepsy among children, and many kids with the neurological condition still follow it today.

Senescent cells contain p53. The p53 protein tells stressed-out, unruly cells to stop dividing before they cause problems.

“When they persist, they cause havoc,” says Jesús Gil, a cellular senescence expert at Imperial College London who wasn’t connected to the new research.

If stem cells undergo senescence, for example, they can undermine tissues’ ability to make repairs. Senescent cells also exude molecules that can trigger inflammation and other deleterious effects.

Keto diets have also taken off among people looking to lose weight, reduce blood sugar, boost athletic performance, or gain other benefits.

Keto dieters typically obtain 70% to 80% of their calories from fat and only 5% to 10% from carbohydrates, whereas the average U.S. resident gets about 36% of their calories from fat and 46% from carbs. Keto dieters can lose weight, and clinical trials suggest possible benefits for those suffering from illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease.


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