A high-fats ketogenic diet—as it's known—seems to influence ageing, and can cause a 13 per cent increase in average lifespan, which could translate to between seven and 10 additional years for humans. The quality of life, including physical strength, also seems to be sustained, so there is little deterioration during those extra years of life.
The diet is usually used to help people lose weight, but it also seems to improve longevity in the same way that fasting and low-calorie diets slow the ageing process, at least in animal studies.
The latest study was carried out on laboratory mice—who were given one of three types of diet—and the researchers from the UC David School of Veterinary Medicine can't be sure if the exact same benefits would be seen in people.
"The results surprised me," said lead researcher Jon Ramsey. "We expected some differences (from the three diets) but I was impressed by the magnitude we observed."
The mice given the ketogenic diet, where fats formed up to 90 per cent of the diet, saw a 13 per cent increase in their lifespan, which would translate into seven to 10 extra years in humans. The other diets—a high-carb diet and a low-carb/high-fats diet—didn't have the same impact on longevity.
But the diet didn't only increase lifespan. The mice maintained memory, motor function and muscle strength into old age. The usual inflammatory markers of ageing were also absent.