Nav: Home

Keto diet works best in small doses, Yale researchers find

January 27, 2020

New Haven CT: A ketogenic diet -- which provides 99% of calories from fat and only 1% from carbohydrates -- produces health benefits in the short term, but negative effects after about a week, Yale researchers found in a study of mice.

The results offer early indications that the keto diet could, over limited time periods, improve human health by lowering diabetes risk and inflammation. They also represent an important first step toward possible clinical trials in humans.

The keto diet has become increasingly popular as celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Lebron James, and Kim Kardashian, have touted it as a weight-loss regimen.

In the Yale study, published in the Jan. 20 issue of Nature Metabolism, researchers found that the positive and negative effects of the diet both relate to immune cells called gamma delta T-cells, tissue-protective cells that lower diabetes risk and inflammation.

A keto diet tricks the body into burning fat, said lead author Vishwa Deep Dixit of the Yale School of Medicine. When the body's glucose level is reduced due to the diet's low carbohydrate content, the body acts as if it is in a starvation state -- although it is not -- and begins burning fats instead of carbohydrates. This process in turn yields chemicals called ketone bodies as an alternative source of fuel. When the body burns ketone bodies, tissue-protective gamma delta T-cells expand throughout the body.

This reduces diabetes risk and inflammation, and improves the body's metabolism, said Dixit, the Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Comparative Medicine and of Immunobiology. After a week on the keto diet, he said, mice show a reduction in blood sugar levels and inflammation.

But when the body is in this "starving-not-starving" mode, fat storage is also happening simultaneously with fat breakdown, the researchers found. When mice continue to eat the high-fat, low-carb diet beyond one week, Dixit said, they consume more fat than they can burn, and develop diabetes and obesity.

"They lose the protective gamma delta T-cells in the fat," he said.

Long-term clinical studies in humans are still necessary to validate the anecdotal claims of keto's health benefits.

"Before such a diet can be prescribed, a large clinical trial in controlled conditions is necessary to understand the mechanism behind metabolic and immunological benefits or any potential harm to individuals who are overweight and pre-diabetic," Dixit said.

There are good reasons to pursue further study: According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 84 million American adults -- or more than one out of three -- have prediabetes (increased blood sugar levels), putting them at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. More than 90% of people with this condition don't know they have it.

"Obesity and type 2 diabetes are lifestyle diseases," Dixit said. "Diet allows people a way to be in control."

With the latest findings, researchers now better understand the mechanisms at work in bodies sustained on the keto diet, and why the diet may bring health benefits over limited time periods.

"Our findings highlight the interplay between metabolism and the immune system, and how it coordinates maintenance of healthy tissue function," said Emily Goldberg, the postdoctoral fellow in comparative medicine who discovered that the keto diet expands gamma-delta T cells in mice.

If the ideal length of the diet for health benefits in humans is a subject for later studies, Dixit said, discovering that keto is better in small doses is good news, he said: "Who wants to be on a diet forever?"
-end-
The research was funded in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Yale University

Related Diabetes Articles:

Diabetes drug boosts survival in patients with type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 pneumonia
Sitagliptin, a drug to lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, also improves survival in diabetic patients hospitalized with COVID-19, suggests a multicenter observational study in Italy.
Making sense of diabetes
Throughout her 38-year nursing career, Laurel Despins has progressed from a bedside nurse to a clinical nurse specialist and has worked in medical, surgical and cardiac intensive care units.
Helping teens with type 1 diabetes improve diabetes control with MyDiaText
Adolescence is a difficult period of development, made more complex for those with Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).
Diabetes-in-a-dish model uncovers new insights into the cause of type 2 diabetes
Researchers have developed a novel 'disease-in-a-dish' model to study the basic molecular factors that lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, uncovering the potential existence of major signaling defects both inside and outside of the classical insulin signaling cascade, and providing new perspectives on the mechanisms behind insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes and possibly opportunities for the development of novel therapeutics for the disease.
Tele-diabetes to manage new-onset diabetes during COVID-19 pandemic
Two new case studies highlight the use of tele-diabetes to manage new-onset type 1 diabetes in an adult and an infant during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Genetic profile may predict type 2 diabetes risk among women with gestational diabetes
Women who go on to develop type 2 diabetes after having gestational, or pregnancy-related, diabetes are more likely to have particular genetic profiles, suggests an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.
Maternal gestational diabetes linked to diabetes in children
Children and youth of mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of diabetes themselves, according to new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Two diabetes medications don't slow progression of type 2 diabetes in youth
In youth with impaired glucose tolerance or recent-onset type 2 diabetes, neither initial treatment with long-acting insulin followed by the drug metformin, nor metformin alone preserved the body's ability to make insulin, according to results published online June 25 in Diabetes Care.
People with diabetes visit the dentist less frequently despite link between diabetes, oral health
Adults with diabetes are less likely to visit the dentist than people with prediabetes or without diabetes, finds a new study led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine.
Diabetes, but not diabetes drug, linked to poor pregnancy outcomes
New research indicates that pregnant women with pre-gestational diabetes who take metformin are at a higher risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes -- such as major birth defects and pregnancy loss -- than the general population, but their increased risk is not due to metformin but diabetes.
More Diabetes News and Diabetes Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Warped Reality
False information on the internet makes it harder and harder to know what's true, and the consequences have been devastating. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around technology and deception. Guests include law professor Danielle Citron, journalist Andrew Marantz, and computer scientist Joy Buolamwini.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.