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4 Ways Ketosis Could Keep You Young (BHB, ROS, FOXO3, Insulin, HDAC)

Foxo Health

Disclaimer: This content in this blog and video is not medical advice. It is for information and entertainment purposes only. In this blog, I am going to talk about four ways that ketosis could keep us young. What is ketosis first of all? Very broadly speaking, ketosis is a metabolic state where we have depleted all the sugar or glucose reserves in our liver and we are pretty much burning fat rather than sugar is our primary fuel source. We typically get into ketosis through a ketogenic diet, fasting, or a combination of the two. So let me talk about four ways that ketosis could keep us young. The first way is by reducing the amount of oxidative stress our bodies receive. Oxidative stress is said to be one of the key drivers of aging. What is oxidative stress? Unfortunately, most of the processes of everyday living like eating or moving cause us to produce reactive oxygen species, which for the MOST part are harmful to us and can cause DNA damage (although they do have some beneficial signalling molecule effects). Reactive oxygen species or ROS are also known as free radicals, and you may have heard about the Free Radical Theory of Aging from Denham Harman. So why does being in ketosis produce less reactive oxygen species? Well it turns out that burning fat is more efficient than burning sugar, in that we require less oxygen to produce a unit of energy. A by product of the fat burning process is the reactive oxygen species, so if less oxygen goes into the process, less reactive oxygen species will come out of the process. The second way ketosis could keep is young is my favourite, and that is through the increased activation of a genetic pathway called FOXO3. When we are in ketosis, we produce something called ketone bodies. There are ketone bodies and we are basically using them as fuel. One of these is called Beta Hydroxybutyrate (BHB) which turns out to be a very powerful signalling molecule. One of the pathways in the body that BHB signals, is you guessed it, the FOXO3 pathway or gene. The FOXO3 has sometimes been referred to as the ‘longevity’ gene because humans that have a variation in this gene resulting in its increased activation or expression are said to have 2.7 fold increased likelihood of living to be 100 years old. The FOXO3 gene is a master regulator of host of other anti-aging pathways. Here is some of the cool things it does The third way ketosis could keep us young is by reducing activation of our insulin signalling pathway. When we eat a meal, the sugar from the food ends up in our blood and we then produce insulin from the pancreas to move that sugar into our cells. So basically the insulin signalling pathway is triggered by sugar and carbohydrates in the diet as a way to get sugar out of blood and store energy. It turns out that the insulin signalling pathway turns out to be a key driver of aging and it’s not difficult to imagine why. If we eat a lot of sugar and carbs we are going to hammer our insulin signalling pathway and if we do it to much, we end up with things like obesity, diabetes and cancer. Remember, ketosis is a fat burning state. When we are in ketosis, by default, we are not eating refined carbs or sugar. You can get away with fibre, but if you eat carbs or sugar, your blood sugar will spike, you’ll activate the insulin signalling pathway to move the sugar out of the blood and will be kicked out of ketosis. So you can only be in ketosis by not eating carbs or sugar, and as such you will massively reduce your insulin signalling pathway which is a driver of aging. The fourth way ketosis could keep us young is through HDAC inhibition. HDAC is stands for histone deacetylase and they are known as epigenetic regulators. Again, HDACs are associated to aging, but it turns out that being in ketosis serves to inhibit them. As I mentioned before, when we are in ketosis we produce a ketone body called BHB. Again, BHB servers as a signalling molecule and ultimately an HDAC inhibitor. I still haven’t been able to get my head around WHY HDACs cause aging but apparently they do, so if you know the reason as to why please leave a comment and let me know!

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