Ketogenic diet proves mixed bag for elderly in treating migraines

Beyond migraines, the ketogenic diet has been commonly considered beneficial to address many health issues, including weight and glucose control, with few adverse effects, good adherence and tolerance to it in older adults.

“The ketogenic diet and the actions of ketone bodies are considered beneficial in several aspects of health, including migraine prevention, but studies on the ketogenic diet in migraines are not standardized and poorly evidenced,” wrote researchers from the Polish Mother’s Memorial Hospital—Research Institute and the Medical University of Lodz. “Apart from papers claiming beneficial effects of the ketogenic diet in migraines, several studies have reported that increased levels of ketone bodies may be associated with all-cause and incident heart failure mortality in older adults and are supported by research on mice showing that the ketogenic diets and diet supplementation with a human ketone body precursor may cause life span shortening.”

They added: “Despite reports showing a beneficial effect of the ketogenic diet in migraines, such a diet requires further studies, including clinical trials, to verify whether it should be recommended in older adults with migraines.”

Vascular health

A ketogenic diet is essentially a high intake of fat, moderate protein intake and low intake of carbohydrates, consisting of 70–80% fats, 15–20% proteins and 5–10% carbohydrates.

“The limitation in carbohydrate intake may result in decreased insulin secretion, a transition into a catabolic state and the induction of gluconeogenesis and ketogenesis,” the researchers noted. “However, if the internal production of glucose is not sufficient to provide the necessary amount of ATP, the metabolic pathway switches to ketogenesis, which produces ketone bodies to replace glucose as the main supply of energy… in the context of migraines, it is important that ketone bodies can penetrate the blood–brain barrier to provide energy to the brain, whose deficit is typical for migraines.”