‘Keto diet protects eyesight, drug defies ageing’
*Low-fat meal plan reduces risk of glaucoma, researchers find
*Breakthrough technology makes cells act twenty years younger
*WHO vows to eliminate trans fats from tables globally in five years
A low-carb diet favored by celebrities could prevent glaucoma – one of the leading causes of blindness – according to new research.
Swapping bread, pasta and potatoes for foods high in fat boosts the optic nerve and its connections to the brain, the study by Northeast Ohio Medical University, United States (U.S.), found.
It has also been shown to ease certain neurological issues like seizures in epilepsy patients.
But this study in mice is one of the first to show that the low fat diet stopped cells in the retina at the back of the eye from degenerating.
The lab rodents had been genetically engineered to develop glaucoma – but did not do so.
Caused by pressure inside the eyes the progressive disease can lead to blindness in one or both eyes.
It damages cells that transmit visual information to the brain – leading to vision loss
The study published in JNeurosci adds to others that have found the diet protects against brain conditions including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease.
Also, Australian researchers have developed an anti-ageing drug that could delay and even reverse the ageing process.
“We may be able to take a 60-year-old’s cells and make them 40,” Dr. Ken O’Byrne told 7 News.
Researchers working tirelessly in the labs at Queensland University’s Technology Cancer and Ageing Research Program (CARP) believe they have found the fountain of youth.
“We believe we’ve found the holy grail,” Dr. Derek Richard said.
The anti-ageing drug is believed to also stop a range of other incurable health conditions including cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart diseases.
“This drug could prevent them all, delay their onset or even reverse it,” 7 News reports.
According to CARP’s site, DNA becomes more susceptible to damage as we get older and this unrepaired damage to Deoxy ribonucleic Acid (DNA) often leads to diseases such as cancer, dementia and arthritis.
Also, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has released a plan to help countries wipe out trans fats from the global food supply in the next five years.
The United Nations agency has in the past pushed to exterminate infectious diseases, but now it is aiming to erase a hazard linked to chronic illness.
The UN health agency said eliminating trans fats is critical to preventing deaths worldwide.
The WHO estimates that eating trans fats – commonly found in baked and processed foods – leads to the deaths of more than 500,000 people from heart disease every year.
Officials think it can be done in five years because the work is well under way in many countries. Denmark banned trans fats 15 years ago, and since then the United States and more than 40 other higher-income countries have been working on getting the heart-clogging additives out of their food supplies.
Artificial trans fats are unhealthy substances that are created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil to make it solid, like in the creation of margarine or shortening. Health experts say they can be replaced with canola oil or other products. There are also naturally occurring trans fats in some meats and dairy products.
Meanwhile, diabetics are more prone to glaucoma suggest a link to stress to the metabolism – the bodily process in which food is broken down and transformed into energy.
So Professor Denise Inman and colleagues fed the modified mice a diet composed of nearly 90 per cent fat for two months.
This maintained the health of the retinal cells by making more energy available to them, they said.
The researchers said a ketogenic diet may help to maintain vision in patients with glaucoma.
Prof Inman, of Northeast Ohio medical University, said: “Importantly, the intervention was successful despite the animals being on the cusp of significant glaucoma progression.”
Glaucoma is a permanent narrowing of vision usually caused by damage to the optic nerve.
It results from an excessive build-up of liquid in the eye called aqueous humour. As nerve damage gets worse, vision progressively narrows.
Eye drops are usually given first to those at risk of glaucoma, but used alone these often fail to control eye pressure well enough.
Many then undergo laser eye surgery – but this can also fail to work.
Prof Inman said degeneration of the retina can arise from metabolic stress through damaged mitochondria – tiny bits of DNA that power cells.
She said: “We placed both sexes of mice destined to develop glaucoma and mice of a control strain on a ketogenic diet to encourage mitochondrial function.”
After eight weeks there was an increase in mitochondria, more energy availability, less cell damage and better signalling to the brain.
The mice also had more disease-fighting antioxidants.
Prof Inman said metabolic decline of nerve cells was reversed “as a result of placing the animals on a ketogenic diet.”
The Keto diet forces the body to burn fat for energy – effectively starving it of carbohydrates but not calories.
Prof Inman said: “Ketogenic diets have been used to limit neurodegeneration.”
She said they have been found to improve motor function and cognition in models of Alzheimer’s while decreasing disease progression.
One study found the diet combated motor neurone disease by increasing the number of brain cells.
Prof Inman said: “Exploration of the mechanisms of Ketogenic diet protection often cite improvement of mitochondrial metabolic efficiency or normalisation of metabolism.”
She said it also changes the metabolic profile of glial cells – found in the central nervous system.
Glaucoma become more likely as people get older.
Meanwhile, the WHO recommends that no more than one per cent of a person’s calories come from trans fats.
Countries will likely have to use regulation or legislation to compel food makers to make the switch, experts said.
Food makers liked artificial trans fats because they prolonged product shelf life. They used them in doughnuts, biscuits and deep-fried foods.
But studies gradually revealed that trans fats wreck cholesterol levels in the blood and drive up the risk of heart disease. Health advocates say trans fats are the most harmful fat in the food supply.
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