Rethinking Keto: Study Reveals How Intermittent Breaks Can Prevent Cellular Aging in Heart and Kidneys

A new study from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) reveals that a prolonged keto diet may cause cellular aging in important organs such as the heart and kidneys, suggesting the need for periodic breaks to avoid these negative effects.

Study Findings

In an article published on May 17, 2024, in the journal Science Advances, the team led by Dr. David Gius reports that a prolonged keto diet may encourage the formation of aging cells in various tissues, particularly in the heart and kidneys. In contrast, an intermittent keto diet, which includes planned breaks, did not show pro-inflammatory effects due to aging cells.

Research Methodology

The study was conducted by a team from the Cancer Research Center at UT Health San Antonio, the Briscoe Center for Aging Research, the Center for Precision Medicine, the School of Nursing, and the university’s Department of Nephrology. The research focuses on how to avoid the negative long-term effects of a keto diet through planned breaks. Dr. Gius emphasizes that about 13 million Americans use the keto diet and that breaks from this diet should be taken to prevent ongoing negative effects.

Impact on Human and Animal Health

The study found that a prolonged keto diet may cause cellular aging in a variety of organs. Regular breaks from the diet can prevent these effects. Additionally, the study found that these effects also occur in mice of different ages. Cellular aging phenomena disappeared with the intervention of senolytic agents—small molecules that remove aging cells—and were prevented by implementing an intermittent ketogenic diet regimen.

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Implications for Dietary Practices

These findings have important clinical implications, suggesting that maintaining a keto diet with breaks can enhance benefits and reduce potential risks. The study recommends taking breaks routinely, just like with other dietary interventions. These findings provide valuable information for the millions of individuals who follow the keto diet and highlight the importance of diet moderation.