In the past few years, a big number of people have switched to popular ketogenic diets. Because of its offered benefits, it was also the most searched diet on the internet in 2020. The diet is based on inducing ketosis, which is a process in which the liver uses stored fat in the body for energy production due to a lack of glucose.
As a result, the blood sugar levels along with the fat content of a person reduce over time. Usually, ketosis in the body is achieved by following a low-carbohydrate and high-fat intake. Although the diet can be strict and difficult to follow, it does lead to comparatively faster weight loss.
Additionally, it can also offer a number of other health benefits. Studies have shown that following the keto diet can help in the treatment of epilepsy. The diet is also recommended in many other health conditions. However, the overall view on the ketogenic diet is still negative.
Regardless of its offered benefits, scientists believe that a high-fat intake can also cause health issues. Now, new research published in the journal Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy looks further at the potential negative health outcomes of keto diet and highlights its impact on heart health.
By using a lab mice model, the researchers investigated the differences in heart healths in three different groups of mice. The mice in the first group had a keto diet, the second had a calorie-controlled diet while the third group had a normal diet.
After a period of four months, the health of the heart along with cellular changes in the mice was examined. In the keto group, the researchers noted high levels of β-OHB, which is a ketone produced during ketosis. This ketone, also produced in humans, is usually associated with improvement in the immune system.
At the same time, it has also been found to be linked to reduced mortality and poor heart health. In the mice, the ketone activated the Sirt7 gene, which then stopped the biogenesis of mitochondria in cells in the heart. This process was also replicated in cultured human cells by the researchers.
In the human cells, the process led to scarring or fibrosis in the heart. Secondly, cell death or apoptosis in the heart cells was also noted.
These findings highlight an important issue with ketogenic diets and can be used to possibly explain heart damage and reduced mortality in people who follow them. However, the research is primarily based on mice and cannot be fully applied to humans.
The results of following a keto diet on heart health or other organs in humans especially in the long term are still unclear. For examining further the impact of keto diets on health, large-scale research and clinical trials are required.
Until then, there is no clear evidence to show that keto diets should be or should not be followed by people. Healthcare providers only recommend people consult with doctors before switching diets especially for those who have chronic diseases.