If you start a diet with extremely few carbohydrates at a young age, you may protect your brain against Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. American anti-aging researchers, affiliated with the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky, suspect this. They experimented with mice.
The researchers studied mice that, when the experiment started, were 12-14 weeks old. Half of the mice received standard feed [Control] for 16 weeks, the other half feed in which almost all carbohydrates were replaced by fats [KD].
When the researchers made MRI scans from the brains of their test animals, they saw that the ketogenic diet increased the blood supply to the brain.
That’s positive. With the climbing of the years, the blood vessels that provide brain tissue with oxygen and nutrients can clog up, causing brain cells to deteriorate.
In the blood vessels in the brain, the researchers saw that the ketogenic diet activated the enzyme eNOS. That enzyme dilates blood vessels.
At the same time, the ketogenic diet increased the activity of the P-glycoprotein. This enzyme prevents the formation of amyloid-beta plaques in the brain. These plaques destroy brain cells and play a key role in brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
How exactly a ketogenic diet causes all these effects, the researchers have not been able to find out. They suspect that the microflora plays a role. They discovered that the ketogenic diet changed the composition of the microflora.
“We have demonstrated that a ketogenic diet enhanced neurovascular functions, which might be associated with the diet-induced changes in gut microbiome”, write the researchers. “Our results indicate that a ketogenic diet may not only be beneficial in disease states, but also in healthy condition.”
“These findings imply that dietary intervention started in early stages may evoke neuroprotective effects via neurovascular and gut microbiome changes.”
“Future studies will be needed to further identify the mechanism linking brain and gut interactions for a ketogenic diet-induced neuroprotective effects in both healthy and disease states. Understanding nutritional effects on central and enteric nervous systems, and their interactions, has profound implications for neuroprotection in humans.”
Sci Rep. 2018 Apr 27;8(1):6670.