Ketogenic diet shields early memory decline

Keto diet and BHB reverse memory loss in Alzheimer's mice.


New research from University of California Davis reveals that a ketogenic diet can greatly slow down early Alzheimer’ s-related memory decline in mice. This type of memory loss is comparable to mild cognitive impairment in people, which is a prelude to Alzheimer’s disease.

The study was published in Communications Biology by the Nature Group. The ketogenic diet is low in carbs, fat, and protein, changing the body’s metabolism to use fat and produce ketones for energy. Earlier UC Davis studies showed mice lived 13% longer on this diet.

Co-corresponding author Izumi Maezawa, a professor of pathology at the UC Davis School of Medicine, said, “We observed BHB’s amazing abilities to improve the function of synapses, small structures that connect all nerve cells in the brain. When nerve cells are better connected, the memory problems in mild cognitive impairment are improved.”

Although it hasn’t been confirmed, Cortopassi noted that BHB pills are accessible for humans and may help mice’s memory. In mice, the ketogenic diet increased circuits linked to memory; this effect was more significant in female mice and mice with the ApoE4 gene variation.

This could be significant for Alzheimer’s risk, particularly in females. The researchers are hopeful about the implications for healthy aging and intend to explore further in future studies.

The study shows that the ketogenic diet, especially BHB, helps stop early memory decline in mice. This suggests it could help prevent memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease in people, too. More research is needed to see how these findings can be used to make treatments for people and how they might help us stay healthy as we get older.

Journal reference:

  1. Di Lucente, J., Persico, G., Zhou, Z. et al. Ketogenic diet and BHB rescue the fall of long-term potentiation in an Alzheimer’s mouse model and stimulate synaptic plasticity pathway enzymes. Communications Biology. DOI: 10.1038/s42003-024-05860-z.
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