Modern nutrition science doesn’t think very kindly of the ketogenic diet.
Studies challenging its merits have concluded the regimen to increase a subscriber’s risk for low blood pressure, kidney stones, constipation, nutrient deficiencies, and chronic heart disease.
Meanwhile, the general consensus among non-academics suggests that the keto diet might not be best suited for the long-term but it may benefit specific health objectives.
New findings published in the journal EBioMedicine locates some of these objectives among our gut microbe.
Gut flora (alternatively referred to as gut microbiota) denote the community of microorganisms that resides in our digestive tract.
This community is comprised of bacteria, archaea, and fungi. Each plays a monumental role in strengthening our auto-immune response, preventing excessive weight gain, reducing high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and disease incidence. Diet remains the most meaningful way to influence this process.
The Wake Forest University researchers behind the latest report applied existing data on the gut microbe to cognitive health in older populations.
Their analysis posits that the keto diet may prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease by inducing a healthy balance of the gut microorganisms existing in our gut.
“Recently, we reported that patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) harbor specific signature of bacteria in their gut and that a modified Mediterranean ketogenic diet (MMKD) improves Alzheimer’s disease (AD) markers in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and the signatures of gut bacteria,” the authors wrote in the new paper. “However, other microbial populations such as gut fungi (mycobiome) in relation to MCI/AD pathology, gut bacteria and diet remain unknown.”
After recruiting their study pool of older participants with a median age of 65, the researchers assigned them to either a Mediterranean-style ketogenic diet (MMKD) for six weeks or the American Heart Association diet.
Mediterranean-style ketogenic diet
- Protein sources: fish, seafood, poultry, and eggs.
- Healthy fats/oils: olive oil, avocado oil, and MCT oil.
- Low-carb vegetables — leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and other low carb veggies
- Low-carb fruits — avocados, olives, and tomatoes.
American Heart Association diet
- Lean meats and meat alternatives like beans or tofu
- Fish, vegetables, beans, and nuts
- Nonfat and low-fat dairy products
- Polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats, like canola and olive oils, to replace saturated fats, such as butter
The authors regularly assessed microbiomes and changes in relevant Alzheimer’s biomarkers.
Those who adhered to the Mediterranean-style ketogenic displayed a more diverse gut community and consequently decrease their risk profile for mild-cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.
Moreover, these prohibited a genus of fungi linked to inflammatory diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, known as Candida.
“Although we do not fully understand how these fungi contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, this is the first study of its kind to reveal their role in our mental health, which we hope will ignite thinking in the scientific community to develop better understanding of them in relation to Alzheimer’s disease,” principal investigator Hariom Yadav, Ph.D., an assistant professor of molecular medicine at Wake Forest explained to Medical News Today.
“It also indicates that dietary habits such as eating a ketogenic diet can reduce harmful fungi in the gut, which might help in reducing Alzheimer’s disease processes in the brain.”
The new report was authored by Ravinder Nagpal, Bryan J. Neth, Shaohua Wang, Sidharth P. Mishra, Suzanne Craft, and Hariom Yadav.