Ketones & Aging
When we hear about the benefits of ketones, we often hear about things like energy, satiety & fullness, body composition & weight management, as well as training fuel. Of course, this is rightfully so-these things are phenomenal positive benefits that we can capture from exogenous ketones.
At the same time, it’s important to understand that there are a myriad of benefits, use cases, and people who should consider using exogenous ketones. Gone are the days of exogenous ketones being married exclusively to keto dieters in the eyes of the masses. As a matter of fact, ketones are one of the superfoods of supplements-a single nutrient with so many benefits that can positively impact every body.
This includes seniors. The anti-aging and healthy aging topics are heavy on content but light on solid, practical advice. Of course we want both ourselves, our parents, as well as grandma and grandpa to be able to live their best life for as long as possible.
With ketones we have an option to not only add years to our lives-but life to our years. Let’s take a peek at how ketones can help us age more like wine than bread.
Brain & Cognition
Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and other various types of neurodegeneration are always chief concerns of aging seniors. These slow burn killers are one of the leading causes of death in the United States and other countries.
So how can ketones help?
Well, for starters, ketones are one of the brain’s preferred fuels along with glucose. And if ketones are present, the body (including the brain) preferentially metabolizes them for fuel.
Not only are we merely giving the brain an ideal source of energy, we’re also providing it with fertilizer. Research on both ketones produced by our own bodies (endogenous) and ketones produced outside our bodies (exogenously) have shown they promote neuroplasticity (brain adaptability, cell growth & resilience), as well as having a positive impact on mood, focus & cognition.
That’s right-no more forgetting the keys. Can’t forget mood, either-no more excuses for being a, “get off my lawn,” style old man!
Inflammation & Degeneration
Recently, exogenous ketone and nutritional researcher, Dr. Dominic D’Agostino cited ketones as having a positive impact on silencing systemic inflammation in the body. Remember that chronic inflammation is implicated in virtually every type of age-related decline.
Inflammation is degenerative but getting older doesn’t have to mean excess inflammation.
By living a lifestyle rich in the fundamentals-from diet, sleep, exercise, light exposure, nature, stress management-and supplementing with exogenous ketones-we can help silence age-related degeneration and prevent our bodies from creating the environment where disease can take shape.
From traditional Chinese medicine and holistic practitioners, all the way to modern medicine-it is agreed upon that chronic stress is a driver of virtually every type of disease known to man. This, of course, includes age-related degeneration.
Recent research has shown that exogenous ketones can reduce anxiety by as much as 40%! That’s a statistical tidal wave.
Remember that stress is not just a metaphysical perception, but also has biological consequences. By reducing stress at the physiological level, we can ensure we stay forever young-or something like that.
While reaction time may seem best suited for an article on performance athletes, the reality is that we are all athletes operating at different levels. The more we can maintain a physiology internally-and a fitness level that helps us forge resilience-we are maintaining our youthful, athletic, playful forms.
Ketones come into the fold here because research has shown that they can help improve reaction time by about 10%! Although most people would equate this with sports, remember that falling injuries plague seniors more than any other group. A healthy nervous system with well-tuned reflex arcs can ensure we are helping prevent unnecessary falls from a nutritional standpoint.
We don’t want the car to wear out the brakes!
Better Body Composition
A more commonly understood benefit of exogenous ketones are that they can help us maintain a healthy body composition.
The aforementioned researcher, Dr. Dominic D’Agostino cites how exogenous ketones help silence insulin, thereby clearing the way for heightened body fat utilization for energy (oxidation) to take place.
Soon-to-be-released research by Gacio, Kotch & Dituri has also shown ketones to improve fat loss even when dietary adjustments are close to minimal.
By keeping our silver members of society away from the obesity epidemic, we can ensure better body compositions as we age. With the two leading comorbidities for covid-19 being obesity and vitamin D deficiency, preventative care should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
Dr. Ray Peat and others have cited a decline in systemic energy metabolism as being the one common denominator across all types of disease.
A way to think about everything we do to ourselves or put in our bodies is like a checkbook-everything is a deposit or a withdrawal.
We should maximize our deposits by dialing in lifestyle items like our sleep, light exposure, time spent out in nature, nutrition while being careful about what necessary, positive stressors we take in (e.g. exercise).
Believe it or not, ketogenic diets can be stressful on the system. While they may have some positive benefits (as a hormetic stressor), depriving your body of an energy source for too long is inherently stressful.
This is a big reason why we recommend a more flexible approach and perhaps following something closer to a strict ketogenic diet for a shorter period of time, on occasion.
At the same time, in addition to the potential fat utilization upregulation of a ketogenic diet, we also know that ketones are beneficial. So the answer then becomes, how do we capture these benefits without prolonged systemic distress?
Your old pal exogenous ketones can help here, too. They provide a way to add energy to the system without taxing the adrenal glands or necessitating prolonged stressful states wherein your body has to chronically mine for energy from fat and produce ketones as a byproduct.
Think of them as a way to top off your energy reserves, acting almost as a 4th macronutrient.
Obviously, healthy aging starts with the fundamentals. Nutritionally-speaking, this means a nutrient-rich diet low in inflammation and high in energetic pro-metabolic foods.
On a supplement level, this can include things like vitamins A, E, D, & K, magnesium & electrolytes, and other key items. Consider adding exogenous ketones to your solid nutritional foundation to arm yourself with a superfood-like supplement to ensure your golden years are as graceful as possible!