Latest News » Researchers find compound that links diet and long-term brain health

A low-calorie diet produces more of this compound.

Identifying the exact functions that nutrients perform in the body is important for nutritionists and medical researchers alike, as this ability can shed light on ways to treat various afflictions and promote overall brain health through dietary choices. As this blog demonstrates, the tireless efforts of medical professionals have given us a comprehensive idea of how compounds like omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants benefit our systems, but there is always more to learn about brain nutrition.

Recently, scientists from Gladstone Institutes – a collective of medical research facilities – made a significant discovery that millions of Americans may benefit from. According to a press release from the group, senior investigator Eric Verdin and his team have isolated a mechanism that can prevent an element of wear-and-tear that contributes to cell damage, and ultimately leaves our bodies more vulnerable to disease.

This compound in question, β-hydroxybutyrate, is “produced during a prolonged low-calorie or ketogenic diet,” the source states, most likely because it acts as the body’s key source of energy when the fuel derived from food just isn’t enough. Once this mechanism is produced, Verdin explains that it stops a specific enzyme from taking effect, which prevents a process called oxidative stress that contributes to cell aging.

Oxidative stress isn’t inherently bad, it is just the means by which cells derive energy from oxygen. However, when this happens, free radicals are also released into the system, and these toxins – the targets of antioxidants – can cause significant damage that facilitates degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and various cancers.

Over time, our cells become less able to fend off these attackers, but, by slowing cell aging, researchers expressed the hope that they may be able to treat or even prevent the onset of a number of serious health issues. However, further research is necessary to determine how to harness the powers of β-hydroxybutyrate.

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