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

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

The heart is dependent on mitochondrial pyruvate to function properly, the study explains, noting that MPC express decreases in heart failure, which refers to a condition in which the heart cannot pump or fill properly. The newly published study has found that eating a high-fat and low-carb diet like the keto diet may prevent this condition from developing or may reverse it in some cases.

The benefits were limited only to the keto diet, with the study also finding these positive outcomes in cases of higher-fat diets that had a bit more carbohydrates than allowed on the keto diet, limiting the body from going deeply into ketosis. In that case, the researchers found mice that lacked cardiac MPC expression experience 'significantly improved' heart failure symptoms.

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 failing hearts returned to 'essentially' their normal size after three weeks on the keto diet. In addition to the diet change, 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, as well, including a drop in blood glucose levels.