Nick Lavars / New Atlas
Diet trends like intermittent fasting and ketogenesis are proving wildly popular for their rapid weight-loss effects, but scientists are also starting to uncover how they might benefit the body in other, longer term ways. Case in point: a molecule produced during fasting has now been found to apply the brakes to aging of the vascular system, a process closely tied to the aging of the human body as a whole.
When the body enters ketosis, a metabolic state induced by fasting and low-carb diets, it turns to the body’s stored fats for energy, rather than glucose. One of these sources of energy, known collectively as ketones, is a molecule called β-Hydroxybutyrate.
The steady march of aging might not have to be so steady, according to a growing body of research. Now a team from the University at Buffalo has isolated a single gene that controls senescence, the process that stops cells from dividing and contributes to aging symptoms. Ramping it up, they found how easily the effect can spread among neighboring cells. That makes the gene a crucial target for future work into anti-aging and cancer therapies.
Living cells have a natural limit to the amount of times they can divide, before they stop and become what are known as senescent cells. The problem is, over time these senescent cells build up in the body, eventually contributing to the physical symptoms we associate with aging, such as increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and cataracts. On the other hand though, completely halting senescence can lead to cancer, as the cells continue to divide unchecked.