Last updated on September 9th, 2017
A couple new studies find that a ketogenic diet promotes a longer, healthier lifespan. That’s great, but the results have only been confirmed for lab mice.
I’ve written about mouse-based dietary studies a few times over the years. None have impressed me much. Some have seemed quite odd.
For instance, way back in 2011, I wrote a post entitled “Eating fish makes mice fat, study claims.” Scientists fed some little rodents farmed raised salmon, and some the same diet without salmon, and found the fish-eating mice suffered more insulin resistance, visceral obesity, and glucose intolerance. As the researcher noted, the farmed salmon contained “persistent organic pollutants.”
So, the point of the study seemed to be that eating fish from polluted waters is not a good idea. It didn’t seem to me that a bunch of innocent lab mice needed to be poisoned to determine this fact. I am still of that opinion. And I am still eating clean, wild-caught salmon, but not inclined to share any with rodents.
Also in 2011, I wrote about a mouse-study which suggested eating 37 strawberries a day could lessen a person’s risk of complications from diabetes.
In 2015, I published “Of mice brains aflame and other travesties,” which focused in part on a study involving the surgical transfer of gut microbes from obese mice to non-obese mice. The obese donor mice had been fed a supposed “high fat” diet. As I put it then, “The researchers wanted to see if a non-obese mouse, having been infected by the gut microbes of an obese mouse, would exhibit negative changes in behavior. In fact, they did, and they also exhibited markers of brain inflammation. The study attributed the results to the so-called ‘high-fat’ diet fed to the donor mice.” None of this seemed to say much about human beings and why they become obese, nor about anything else likely to happen in the real world.
Which is the problem with mouse-based studies. How much are mice like people when it comes to diet, nutrition, digestion and so on? Mice do not normally eat salmon, nor do they normally eat high-fat diets. It’s mostly grains and such.
The human-mouse analogue is suspect from the get-go. Of course, a mouse-study may be the place you have to start. Yes, you can glean a worthy hypothesis from a mouse-study, but then you need to test it with people.
For this reason, I’m not getting too excited about a pair of mouse-based dietary studies published this week in Cell Metabolism. The studies are published as “A Ketogenic Diet Extends Longevity and Healthspan in Adult Mice” by Megan N. Roberts et. al., and “Ketogenic Diet Reduces Midlife Mortality and Improves Memory in Aging Mice” by John C. Newman et. al. The links will take you to all the details you’ll want.
These seem like sensible sorts of mouse-studies.
As the titles clearly indicate, eating a ketogenic diet was found to be good for the subject mice. They lived longer, with better health and cognitive functioning. The results were similar to that for a calorie-restricted diet. A low-carb, non-ketogenic diet also produced positive results, but not as positive as for the ketogenic diet.
A keto diet is the way to go, at least if you’re a lab rodent.
I’m happy for the mice. If the results pan out for people, too, I will be even happier for us.
But I’m not waiting for more studies. Keto it is for me!