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Consuming a diet rich in fats may not only help you lose weight, but also boost physical strength and increase lifespan, a study claims.Ketogenic diets have gained popularity for a variety of health benefit claims, but scientists are still teasing out what happens during ketosis, when carbohydrate intake is so low that the body shifts from using glucose as the main fuel source to fat burning and producing ketones for energy.

Researchers from University of California Davis in the US split mice into three groups: a regular rodent high-carb diet, a low carb/high fat diet, and a ketogenic diet (89-90 per cent of total calorie intake).Originally concerned that the high fat diet would increase weight and decrease life span, the researchers kept the calorie count of each diet the same.

They found that in addition to significantly increasing the median life span of mice in the study, the ketogenic diet increased memory and motor function (strength and coordination), and prevented an increase in age-related markers of inflammation. It had an impact on the incidence of tumours as well.

"In this case, many of the things we are looking at aren't much different from humans," said Jon Ramsey, nutritionist at University of California Davis in the US.

"At a fundamental level, humans follow similar changes and experience a decrease in overall function of organs during ageing," Ramsey said.This study indicates that a ketogenic diet can have a major impact on life and health span without major weight loss or restriction of intake. It also opens a new avenue for possible dietary interventions that have an impact on ageing, researchers said.

The study was published in the journal Cell Metabolism.


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