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Study links keto diet and fasting with major impact on heart failure

A new study has revealed that eating a ketogenic diet (“keto”) protects against heart failure and may even reverse the condition in some cases. The research involved comes from St. Louis University, which found that eating a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet has a significant effect in cases of heart failure with decreased expression of the mitochondrial pyruvate (MPC) carrier.

The heart depends on mitochondrial pyruvate to function properly, explains the study, noting that the MPC expresses decreases in heart failure, which refers to a condition in which the heart is unable to pump or fill properly. The recently published study found that eating a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, such as the ketone diet, can prevent the condition from developing or can reverse it in some cases.

The benefits were limited only to the ketone diet, with the study also finding these positive results in cases of high-fat diets that had slightly more carbohydrates than allowed in the ketone diet, limiting the body from entering deep into ketosis. In this case, the researchers found that mice without expression of cardiac MPC experienced a “significant improvement” in the symptoms of heart failure.

Research lead Kyle S. McCommis, PhD, explained:

Our study reveals a critical role for mitochondrial pyruvate utilization in cardiac function, and highlights the potential of dietary interventions to enhance cardiac fat metabolism to prevent or reverse cardiac dysfunction and remodeling in the setting of MPC-deficiency.

The study found that troubled hearts “essentially” returned to normal size after three weeks on a ketone diet. In addition to the change in diet, the study also found that a 24-hour fast had a “significant” positive impact on the heart in cases of heart failure, noting other benefits that come with prolonged fasting, including a drop in blood glucose levels.

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