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New animal studies show that ketogenic diets help muscle cells to cope with stress, and scientists believe that this may be the case for humans.
Researchers at Stanford Medical University conducted a dietary study of laboratory mice and published their findings in June in the journal Cell Metabolism.
The study was conducted to investigate the effects of high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets and short-term fasting on muscle regeneration, as there is little research on the subject.
Keto diets are a popular weight loss tactic that people use when they eat large amounts of healthy fats – usually 55% to 60% – when they eat small amounts of carbohydrates – usually 5% to 10%. This causes the body to become known as “ketosis”, which is a major source of fuel, and over time leads to a decrease in body fat.
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“We show that ketogenic or ketogenic diets or exogenously controlled cells during fasting contribute to a deep state of calm in the muscle stem,” Stanford researchers wrote.
Fasting, on the other hand, slowed down “muscle repair both after the end of the fast and after a few days of eating,” according to the study.
Laboratory mice were treated for one and a half days, one and a half days. Mice were “less able” to regenerate new muscles in their hind legs compared to the non-fasting control group.
Test subjects of rodents had observed “recovery ability” lasting up to three days after mice were fed again. One week after the end of the fast, their weight returned to normal.
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The muscle cells in these test mice were smaller and “slower to divide” than in mice whose nutrition had not been disrupted.
Cells were found to be “more flexible” and “better able to survive” when transplanted and grown in a laboratory vessel.
Researchers tested the subjects under “difficult conditions,” including nutrient deficiencies, cell-damaging chemicals, and radiation exposure.
Many cells were successfully transplanted back into laboratory mice. Mice that did not fast had a lower success rate.
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“Most muscle cells that are usually grown in the laboratory die when they are transplanted,” says Thomas Rando, a professor of neurology and neuroscience at Stanford University.
“But these cells are in a state of deep rest, which we call the deep calm caused by ketones, which allows them to withstand many types of stress,” he continued in a university press release.
The muscle cells of fasting and non-fasting mice showed “similar elasticity” when treated with beta-hydroxybutyrate, a water-soluble molecule responsible for the ketogenesis produced when fatty acids are produced by the liver.
The muscle cells of older mice were treated with ketone bodies for a week, but their cells “grew poorly in the laboratory” compared to their younger counterparts. However, these muscle cells also survived.
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According to Rando, cells evolved to survive periods of abundance and poverty, including access to food.
“Ketone bodies are formed when the body uses fats for energy, but they also push the stem cells to a state of calm that protects them in the absence of them,” he said. “In this condition, they are protected from environmental stress, but are also unable to repair damaged tissue.”
A Stanford University study report says the results are interesting, but more needs to be done.
The university also said that the findings provide information on the effects of aging on the body’s ability to repair and regenerate damaged tissues.
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“As we age, our tissues heal more slowly and less fully,” Rando said. “We wanted to understand what controls this ability to regenerate and how fasting affects this process. We found that fasting induces the stability of muscle stem cells so that they can survive in times of deficiency and help rebuild muscles.”