New Study Reveals Ketogenic Diet’s Potential to Delay Alzheimer’s Memory Loss

by Ella

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Davis, sheds light on the significant impact of a ketogenic diet in delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s-related memory decline in mice, mirroring the phase akin to mild cognitive impairment seen in humans prior to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Published in the Nature Group journal Communications Biology, the study underscores the crucial role of the molecule beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) in this protective effect, demonstrating a nearly seven-fold increase in mice following the ketogenic diet, leading to improvements in synaptic function vital for memory retention.


While the research indicates that the diet, particularly BHB, does not eradicate Alzheimer’s, it suggests promising potential in postponing its early stages. Notably, the study highlights more pronounced benefits observed in female mice, presenting intriguing implications for human health, especially among women with a higher susceptibility to Alzheimer’s, particularly those carrying the ApoE4 gene variant linked to elevated risk.


Key Findings:

Ketogenic Diet’s Protective Role: The ketogenic diet elevates levels of BHB in the body, associated with delaying the onset of early Alzheimer’s-related memory loss in mice.


Gender-Specific Benefits: Female mice exhibited more significant benefits from the ketogenic diet, indicating a potential for greater impact on women, particularly those with the ApoE4 gene variant linked to heightened Alzheimer’s risk.


Future Research Directions: The study paves the way for further investigations into healthy aging and Alzheimer’s prevention, focusing on exploring the effects of BHB supplementation and the ketogenic diet’s neuroprotective mechanisms.

The ketogenic diet, characterized by low-carbohydrate, high-fat, and moderate-protein intake, shifts the body’s metabolism from utilizing glucose as the primary fuel source to burning fat and generating ketones for energy. Previous studies by UC Davis researchers have revealed that mice on ketogenic diets experienced a 13% longer lifespan.

In the current study, researchers delved into the role of BHB, a key player in preventing early memory decline, which increased almost seven-fold in mice following the ketogenic diet regimen. Co-corresponding author Gino Cortopassi, a biochemist and pharmacologist at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, emphasized the potential of the ketogenic diet, particularly BHB, in delaying mild cognitive impairment and potentially slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

However, Cortopassi noted that while the data indicate a delay in Alzheimer’s progression, they do not suggest complete elimination of the disease. The study revealed remarkable enhancements in synaptic function, crucial for memory improvement, under the influence of BHB.

Moreover, the ketogenic diet mice displayed significant enhancements in biochemical pathways related to memory formation. Interestingly, the diet appeared to confer greater benefits to female mice and resulted in higher levels of BHB in females, highlighting the potential relevance to women, especially those at higher risk for Alzheimer’s.

Looking ahead, the research team remains optimistic about the implications of their findings on healthy aging and plans to conduct further investigations to deepen our understanding of the ketogenic diet’s role in Alzheimer’s prevention and cognitive health.

Funding for the study was provided by the National Institute on Aging, a unit of the National Institutes of Health.



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