Want to Live Longer? Try Eating More Foods with Fats

The chances are that you have a loved one whose in his 80’s or even 90’s. Have you ever asked him about his secrets to aging?

A recent mouse study at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine demonstrates that a high fat, or ketogenic, diet not only increases longevity but also improves physical strength.

“The results surprised me a little,” said nutritionist Jon Ramsey, senior author of the paper that appears in the September issue of Cell Metabolism. “We expected some differences, but I was impressed by the magnitude we observed — a 13 percent increase in median life span for the mice on a high fat vs high carb diet. In humans, that would be seven to 10 years. But equally important, those mice retained quality of health in later life.”

Adhering to a ketogenic diet (when carbohydrate intake is so low that the body shifts from using glucose as the main fuel source to fat burning and producing ketones for energy) not only significantly extended the mice’s lifespan, it also increased their memory and their motor function – strength and coordination. Additionally, the diet prevented an increase in age-related inflammation and lowered the risk of tumors.

“In this case, many of the things we’re looking at aren’t much different from humans,” Ramsey said. “At a fundamental level, humans follow similar changes and experience a decrease in overall function of organs during aging. This study indicates that a ketogenic diet can have a major impact on life and health span without major weight loss or restriction of intake. It also opens a new avenue for possible dietary interventions that have an impact on aging.”

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