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Trendy ‘keto’ diet can make muscle cells more resistant to stress, study finds 

A high-fat, low-carb diet that has become popular in recent years may extend a person’s lifespan, a new study finds.

Researchers at Stanford University, in the Bay Area, found that the ketogenic diet, often referred to as keto, can help muscle and stem cells survive stress and help a person live longer.

Keto diets are extremely low in carbohydrates but high in fat. This trains the body to become efficient at burning fat and converting fat into energy.

The rise of the diet in some communities has sparked some controversy, with some warning that it can cause nutritional deficiencies and other long-term problems — despite its short-term benefits.

Researchers found that eating a high-fat, low-carb, keto diet can extend a person's lifespan in the same way as a regular fasting dose (file photo)

Researchers found that eating a high-fat, low-carb, keto diet can extend a person’s lifespan in the same way as a regular fasting dose (file photo)

Researchers, who published their findings last week in cell metabolismfound that the keto diet has many of the same positive effects on a person’s cells as fasting.

In a test on mice, researchers found that those who fasted for one to 2.5 days had more resilient muscle cells.

While they took longer to recover when damaged, cells in fasting mice were much less likely to be damaged.

“We found that fasting induces resilience in muscle stem cells so that they survive during deprivation and are available to repair muscle when nutrients are available again,” said Dr. Thomas Rando, a professor of neurology at Stanford in a university publication.

However, prolonged fasting is not sustainable and can be very inconvenient for a person to do on a daily basis.

Eating a keto diet, which is much more realistic, seemed to have the same effect as fasting on mice cells tested for ketone.

The ketone-induced cells were more resilient, survived longer when deprived of nutrients, exposed to harmful chemicals or radiation.

Cells could also be transported to other animals that were not fasting or on the keto diet.

“Normally, most lab-grown muscle stem cells die when they’re transplanted,” Rando said.

“But these cells are in a deep resting state called ketone-induced deep rest, which allows them to withstand many types of stress.”

Mice fed a keto diet directly also showed similar effects, the research team said.

Keto diets have gained traction on social media in recent years, and while they're great for reducing fat and weight, some worry that those who use them will experience nutrient deficiencies that could lead to problems in the long run.

Keto diets have gained traction on social media in recent years, and while they’re great for reducing fat and weight, some worry that those who use them will experience nutrient deficiencies that could lead to problems in the long run.

“Cells have evolved to exist in times of abundance and in times of hardship,” Rando said.

‘They had to be able to survive when food was not readily available. Ketone bodies form when the body uses fat for energy, but they also push stem cells into a resting state that protects them during deprivation.

‘In this state they are protected against environmental stress, but they are also less able to regenerate damaged tissue.’

The findings hold promise for keto diet advocates, many of whom have appeared on social media — with varying expertise as a nutritionist.

Keto diets have been heralded as ways to lose weight and reduce fat without going on a calorie-restricted diet.

The risks of developing obesity, diabetes and prediabetes – all of which are increasing in the US – are also low.

However, there are some major drawbacks, some of which are big enough to be recommended by dietitians.

First, a person just starting out on the diet may have an experience called “keto flu,” according to health linewhere the body experienced severe fatigue and other symptoms as a result of the body changing energy sources.

It also leaves a person deficient in many nutrients if not managed properly, and can lead to a variety of bone and organ problems later in life. It can even lead to the development of chronic diseases.

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