Dr. Anthony Gustin is a board-certified sports chiropractor, functional medicine practitioner, entrepreneur, podcast host, and founder of Perfect Keto.
Many attribute pain and sickness to old age, but getting older does not mean getting sicker—at least, it doesn’t have to. Not only will we explore the connection between aging and health, this article will take a look at how diet and lifestyle play a big part in continuing to a live a long and healthy life. Whether you have a loved one in your life that is age 65+, or if you fall within that age category, let’s take a look at how ketosis for seniors can help everyone enjoy the golden years.
Part of aging does involve a degree of decline in how we can function, but it doesn’t have to be debilitating and isolating. This is, unfortunately, a sad reality for many seniors and elders in our society. The high-carb, processed diet often prescribed for people of this age group is not helping, either.
Rather than seeing getting older as unfortunate, we can support healthier mental and physical health at any age through a more proper diet. And the truth is: there are many advantages of following a ketogenic diet for senior adults.
Here are some of the ways being in ketosis and eating healthy ketogenic foods can address concerns often faced by seniors today:
Insulin resistance: Many senior citizens in our society are overweight and dealing with insulin-related conditions like diabetes. This is serious, as diabetes can lead to things like vision loss, kidney disease, and more.
Bone health: Osteoporosis, in which reduced bone density causes bones to become fragile and brittle, is one of the most common conditions seen in older men and women. More calcium through daily intake of milk products, as the USDA recommends, obviously isn’t the answer. This is because the countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis tend to have the highest rates of dairy consumption. What’s far better is to focus on a keto diet low in toxins, which interfere with absorption, and is rich in all micronutrients rather than overloaded on a specific macronutrient (calcium).
Inflammation: For many people, aging includes more pain from injuries that happened at a younger age or joint issues like arthritis. Being in ketosis can help reduce the production of substances called cytokines that promote inflammation, which can help with these types of conditions.
Nutrient deficiencies: Older adults tend to have higher deficiencies in important nutrients like:
- Iron: deficiency can lead to brain fog and fatigue
- Vitamin B12: deficiency can lead to neurological conditions like dementia
- Fats: deficiency can lead to problems with cognition, skin, vision, and vitamin deficiencies
- Vitamin D: deficiency cause cognitive impairment in older adults, increase the risk of heart disease, and even contribute to cancer risk
The high-quality sources of animal protein on the ketogenic diet can easily account for excellent sources of these important nutrients.
As we’ve discussed, there is a connection between poor blood sugar and brain-related conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and Parkinson’s Disease. Some factors that might contribute to Alzheimer’s disease include [*]:
- An excess intake of carbohydrates, especially from fructose—which is drastically reduced in the ketogenic diet
- A lack of dietary fats and cholesterol—which are abundant and healthy on the ketogenic diet
- Oxidative stress, which being in ketosis protects against [*]
Using a ketogenic diet to help control blood sugar and improve nutrition may help not only improve insulin response but also protect against memory problems that often come about with age.
Keto foods deliver a high amount of nutrition per calorie. This is important because basal metabolic rate (the amount of calories needed daily to survive) is less for seniors, but they still need the same amount of nutrients as younger people.
A person age 65+ will have a much harder time living on junk foods than a teen or 20-something whose body is still resilient. This makes it even more crucial for seniors to eat foods that are health-supporting and disease-fighting. It can literally mean the difference between enjoying the golden years to the fullest or spending them in pain and agony.
Therefore, seniors need to eat a more optimal diet by avoiding “empty calories” from sugars or foods rich in anti-nutrients, such as whole grains, and increasing their amount of nutrient-rich fats and proteins.
In addition, much of the food chosen by older people (or given in hospital or clinical settings) tends to be heavily processed and very poor in nutrients, such as white breads, pastas, prunes, mashed potatoes, puddings, etc.
It’s pretty clear that the high-carb diet so widely pushed by the government is not best for supporting our senior citizens and their long-term health. A diet low in carbohydrates and rich in animal and plant fats is far better for promoting better insulin sensitivity, less instances of cognitive decline, and overall better health.
In a Keto Talk podcast with Jimmy Moore, Dr. Adam Nally talks about how he has many elderly patients doing very well on a keto diet. Based on the information discussed above, this makes a lot of sense.
No matter our age, it’s never a bad idea to improve your chances of feeling and functioning well for the rest of your life. It’s never too late to start doing better, even though the sooner we start, the better our chances of avoiding disease. Even for those who have spent many years not treating their bodies as well as they should, ketosis for seniors has potential to repair some of the damage.
That being said, as we talk about in our ketosis for longevity article, the earlier we can begin making changes that support healthy weight, blood sugar, immunity, and more, the greater chance of having less pain and suffering later in life.
Take Home Message
Bottom line, we’re all getting older and death is, of course, inevitable. But what we CAN control to a degree is the quality of life along the way. People are now living longer, but we’re also getting sicker by following the standard diet of the majority. The ketogenic diet can help seniors improve their health, so they can actually thrive, rather than be sick or in pain during the later years of life.