Canada Health Alliance

Health Benefits of Ketones and the Ketogenic Diet

John Williamson Cameron

Although glucose is the primary source of energy for the human body, ketones are an alternative energy source that is more efficient and can provide many health benefits.

Small amounts of ketones are produced by the liver in the morning after depletion of glucose following an overnight fast.

It is possible to significantly increase liver ketone production by maintaining a low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic diet or by consuming medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) derived from coconut oil. Daily consumption of two tablespoons of ketogenic caprylic and capric acid from coconut oil provide the equivalent of an estimated 8 to 9 percent of brain energy.

Brain glucose absorption declines with age, but brain ketone absorption remains unchanged. The age-related decline in brain absorption of glucose can be o set by ketones from a ketogenic diet or MCT oils.

Ketones improve cognitive function in the young and healthy as well as in the elderly and those with Alzheimer’s disease.

A ketogenic diet or exercise can help the body clean out damaged and senescent cells and regenerate new ones. This process of cellular clean-up (called autophagy) is a key to preventing in ammation and improving one’s health and lifespan.

The decline with age of NAD+ (an activated form of vitamin B3 essential for cellular energy production) plays a role in age-related disease. Ketone-based energy production results in significantly increased NAD+, which activates enzymes that have clinical potential in the treatment of many diseases of aging.

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