Many think that pain and sickness happen due to old age, but aging does not have to equate to getting ill — at least, not if both the young and the old take the right steps. In this article, we’ll discuss how diet and lifestyle changes can help seniors live a longer and healthier life. For senior citizens who are 65+, many may wonder if a low carb diet such as the ketogenic diet (a high fat, low carb diet) is right for them (and we discuss this more in the Body Reboot book. Let’s take a look at how the keto diet can help senior citizens enjoy their golden years to the fullest.
Perfect Keto reveals that being in ketosis (when your body burns fat as opposed to glucose), can help senior citizens with the following health conditions:
Here are some of the ways being in ketosis and eating healthy ketogenic foods can address concerns often faced by seniors today:
Insulin resistance: Many senior citizens in our society are overweight and dealing with insulin-related conditions like diabetes. This is serious, as diabetes can lead to things like vision loss, kidney disease, and more.
Bone health: Osteoporosis, in which reduced bone density causes bones to become fragile and brittle, is one of the most common conditions seen in older men and women. More calcium through daily intake of milk products, as the USDA recommends, obviously isn’t the answer. This is because the countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis tend to have the highest rates of dairy consumption. What’s far better is to focus on a keto diet low in toxins, which interfere with absorption, and is rich in all micronutrients rather than overloaded on a specific macronutrient (calcium).
Inflammation: For many people, aging includes more pain from injuries that happened at a younger age or joint issues like arthritis. Being in ketosis can help reduce the production of substances called cytokines that promote inflammation, which can help with these types of conditions.
Nutrient deficiencies: Older adults tend to have higher deficiencies in important nutrients like:
Iron: deficiency can lead to brain fog and fatigue
Vitamin B12: deficiency can lead to neurological conditions like dementia
Fats: deficiency can lead to problems with cognition, skin, vision, and vitamin deficiencies
Vitamin D: deficiency cause cognitive impairment in older adults, increase the risk of heart disease, and even contribute to cancer risk
The high-quality sources of animal protein on the ketogenic diet can easily account for excellent sources of these important nutrients.
Science Daily says that scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have discovered that a keto diet may delay the effects of aging. Their findings reveal how the low carb diet can help prevent aging and also may help scientists prevent diseases that come with age such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and other age-related diseases.
As the aging population continues to grow, age-related illnesses have become increasingly common. Already in the United States, nearly one in six people are over the age of 65. Heart disease continues to be the nation's number one killer, with cancer and Alzheimer's close behind. Such diseases place tremendous strain on patients, families and our healthcare system. But now, researchers in the laboratory of Gladstone Senior Investigator Eric Verdin, MD, have identified the role that a chemical compound in the human body plays in the aging process — and which may be key to new therapies for treating or preventing a variety of age-related diseases.
In the latest issue of the journal Science, available online December 6, Dr. Verdin and his team examined the role of the compound β-hydroxybutyrate (βOHB), a so-called “ketone body” that is produced during a prolonged low-calorie or ketogenic diet. While ketone bodies such as βOHB can be toxic when present at very high concentrations in people with diseases such as Type I diabetes, Dr. Verdin and colleagues found that at lower concentrations, βOHB helps protect cells from “oxidative stress” — which occurs as certain molecules build to toxic levels in the body and contributes to the aging process.
“Over the years, studies have found that restricting calories slows aging and increases longevity — however the mechanism of this effect has remained elusive” Dr. Verdin said. Dr. Verdin, the paper's senior author, directs the Center for HIV & Aging at Gladstone and is also a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, with which Gladstone is affiliated. “Here, we find that βOHB — the body's major source of energy during exercise or fasting — blocks a class of enzymes that would otherwise promote oxidative stress, thus protecting cells from aging.”
The study that Science Daily mentioned above is Suppression of Oxidative Stress by β-Hydroxybutyrate, an Endogenous Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor from 2012, and they discuss how restricting calories can slow aging and lead to a more extended, healthier lifestyle:
Concentrations of acetyl–coenzyme A and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) affect histone acetylation and thereby couple cellular metabolic status and transcriptional regulation. We report that the ketone body D-β-hydroxybutyrate (βOHB) is an endogenous and specific inhibitor of class I histone deacetylases (HDACs). Administration of exogenous βOHB, or fasting or calorie restriction, two conditions associated with increased βOHB abundance, all increased global histone acetylation in mouse tissues. Inhibition of HDAC by βOHB was correlated with global changes in transcription, including that of the genes encoding oxidative stress resistance factors FOXO3A and MT2. Treatment of cells with βOHB increased histone acetylation at the Foxo3a and Mt2 promoters, and both genes were activated by selective depletion of HDAC1 and HDAC2. Consistent with increased FOXO3A and MT2 activity, treatment of mice with βOHB conferred substantial protection against oxidative stress.
Want to hear something unbelievable? A senior citizen named Charles Eugster who is 96 years old says he avoids sugar and eats lots of meat to stay young and trim! Diet Doctor mentions the senior with a quote from him as well.
Charles Eugster holds world records at a number of sprint distances… and he’s 96 years old! He may be the “fittest senior citizen on the planet”.
“I avoid sugar and eat lots of meat, especially fat. I’ve been on a fat trip lately. Fat! Piles of fat. Yet, I was in a supermarket the other day and was perplexed to find yogurt with zero fat. What on earth is that?”
We’ve already mentioned some of these health benefits above, but Keto Oncologist further reveals that the keto diet can help with inflammation, and can also slow down diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinsons.
It can improve memory and make you think more clearly. Did you ever have the feeling of lightheadedness whenever you forget to eat? The brain depends so much on sugar that when you suddenly remove it, one begins to feel unwell, feel unsteady and lightheaded. Luckily, within a short time, this momentary discomfort will disappear. The body makes up for this naturally. Fasting or low carb diets will stimulate the liver to produce ketones. Ketone levels rise whenever there is a shortage of glucose or carbohydrates. These ketones are a form of substitute energy. Ketones can supply the brain with enough food to protect it from lasting damage due to low sugar in the blood. This condition is called “hypoglycemia” = “hypo meaning “low”, and glycemia meaning “glucose in the blood”.
It strengthens the immune system. Mouse models of glioma, a type of brain tumor, show that the diet can improve immunity.
It decreases inflammation. Ketosis brings down inflammation, by curbing the production of pro-inflammatory substances called “cytokines”. Elderly patients commonly have joints issues like arthritis and chronic injuries from when they were younger, and the diet can potentially help relieve these symptoms.
It can slow down the onset of debilitating nerves (neurodegenerative) diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinsonism. Similar animal models show that ketones can protect the brain from permanent damage. Damage is seen often after traumatic brain injury and strokes. The ketone we are referring to is the type called “beta-hydroxybutyrate”. Studies in fruit fly models (scientific name: Drosophila melanogaster) show that ketones can improve poor motility. This is important for research in movement disorders like Parkinsonism.
Can Seniors Lose Belly Fat blog provides an excellent summary of the many health benefits for seniors who go on keto and the blogger also cites some unique NCBI studies that back up these findings.
The keto diet is effective for weight loss but has many other benefits to your health including:
Doctors usually recommend the ketogenic diet for children with epilepsy when their seizures have not responded to different seizure medicines.
There is evidence from some uncontrolled clinical trials and studies in animals that the ketogenic diet can help in a broad range of neurological and neurodegenerative disorders including
It may also help in cases of traumatic brain injury and stroke. (Source: NCBI.nlm.nhi.gov)
Sugar can feed cancer cells causing them to multiply. Eliminating sugar and carbs may be effective in reducing or fighting cancer.
Improves cardiovascular risk factors
New research is showing the keto diet may be helpful in treating Autism. (Source: NCBI.nlm.hmi.gov)
Recent work in the last decade shows that the therapeutic effects of the ketogenic diet in many pathological conditions such as diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, acne, neurological diseases, and the amelioration of respiratory disease risk factors. (Source: NCBI.nlm.nhi.gov)
It looks like seniors can receive many benefits from a ketogenic diet as well! They can learn all about the high fat, low-carb keto diet and how it can help them live a longer life in the Body Reboot book. Want a free book? All you have to do is help us cover shipping and visit this page to get your free copy today!
Sources: Perfect Keto, Suppression of Oxidative Stress by β-Hydroxybutyrate, an Endogenous Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor. Science, December 6, 2012, Science Daily, Diet Doctor, Keto Oncologist
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