Medical Science: Widely Popular Keto Diet May Only Work in Smaller Intervals

Dev Kapadia ‘23

The keto diet has gained widespread popularity for its near-magical ability to cause quick weight-loss. However, a team of researchers at Yale University have found evidence that suggests these benefits are only short-term. In fact, they found that staying on the keto diet long term could actually increase a person’s risk of diabetes and inflammation (Goldberg et al., 2020).

The weight loss market has been saturated with solutions like P90X, the Atkins diet, and more. However, the keto diet gained widespread fame for its efficacy, proved scientifically to increase the longevity of life through weight-loss (Roberts et al., 2017) and popularized by stars like Lebron James. The diet is especially popular because it allows dieters to continue indulging in some of their favorite high-fat, low-carb foods while losing weight.

The keto diet is based on the phenomenon that increasing the fats in the body leads to high fat burn in the body. When fat concentration increases in the body while carbohydrate availability decreases, glucose levels will consequently fall. In response, the body is tricked into a starvation state that causes a switch from burning carbohydrates to burning high energy fats. When these fats are burned, chemicals called ketone bodies are produced and used as fuel for the body, spreading gamma-delta T-cells through the body. These gamma-delta T-cells are known as advanced tissue protectors as they are highly specialized in antigen presentation to the body’s immune system and memory recognition of these antigens. As a result, these antigens can recognize and regulate diseases by increasing response and the body’s metabolic response, thus decreasing the risk of diabetes and inflammation (Hoeres, 2018).

However, new research conducted by Vishwa Deep Dixit and his team at the Yale School of Medicine suggests that these benefits can be lost if the keto diet is continued in the long-term. When the team put mice on the keto diet for longer than one week, the mice started to eat fats at a faster rate than they were being burned by the body. Dixit and the group claim that when the mice continue to consume more and more fats, the gamma delta T-cells can start to get broken down along with the newly consumed fat. Because these gamma delta T-cells brought the benefits of the keto diet, their loss can negate the benefits that the diet promises to provide; a person may actually see an increase in the risk of diabetes depending on how much fat they consume (Yale University, 2020).

Dixit and his team noted that further study is needed for a more definite conclusion to be drawn. Obesity and type 2 diabetes are avoidable diseases, and diets are one way that many people choose to prevent them. The implications drawn from Dixit’s study, coupled with further research, will be instrumental in helping the 84 million Americans who are prone to these conditions (Yale University, 2020).

References:

[1] Goldberg, E. L., Shchukina, I., Asher, J. L., Sidorov, S., Artyomov, M. N., & Dixit, V. D. (2020, January 20). Ketogenesis activates metabolically protective γδ T cells in visceral adipose tissue. Retrieved February 18, 2020, from https://www.nature.com/articles/s42255-019-0160-6

[2] Hoeres, Timm, Smetak, Manfred, Wilhelm, & Martin. (2018, April 3). Improving the Efficiency of Vγ9Vδ2 T-Cell Immunotherapy in Cancer. Retrieved February 18, 2020, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2018.00800/full

[3] Roberts, M. N., Wallace, M. A., Tomilov, A. A., Zhou, Z., Marcotte, G. R., Tran, D., … Lopez-Dominguez, J. A. (2017, September 5). A Ketogenic Diet Extends Longevity and Healthspan in Adult Mice. Retrieved February 18, 2020, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413117304904

[4] Yale University. (2020, January 27). Keto diet works best in small doses, mouse study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 16, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200127134741.htm

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