Mitochondria — the tiny energy factories within your cells — generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency your body needs to run its systems. Your mitochondria are also responsible for apoptosis (programmed cell death), and serve as important signaling molecules that help regulate your genetic expression. Hence, the state of your mitochondria plays a key role in health and disease.
Once your mitochondria become damaged and dysfunctional, your energy reserves decrease, leading to a wide variety of symptoms, some of the most common being headache and fatigue, and leaving you increasingly vulnerable to degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and neurodegenerative decay.
Unfortunately, mitochondrial damage is more the norm than the exception these days, thanks to the prevalence of processed food diets, inactivity, lack of sun exposure and excessive exposure to toxins and non-native electromagnetic fields from cellphones, routers, cellular towers and more. All of these factors contribute to mitochondrial dysfunction. On the upside, your body can regenerate and renew, regardless of your age — provided it has the proper fuel to do so.
A ketogenic diet — which is very low in net carbohydrates and high in healthy fats — is key for boosting mitochondrial function. Healthy fats also play an important role in maintaining your body's electrical system.
When your body is able to burn fat for fuel, your liver creates water-soluble fats called ketones that burn far more efficiently than carbs, thereby creating fewer reactive oxygen species (ROS) and secondary free radicals. Ketones also decrease inflammation, improve glucose metabolism1 and aid the building of muscle mass.2
International Study Confirms Fat for Fuel Premise
The benefits of a cyclical ketogenic diet are detailed in my latest bestselling book, "Fat for Fuel."3 While the book was peer-reviewed by over a dozen health experts and scientists, a new large-scale international study (known as the international Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology, or PURE, study4,5 ) adds further weight to the premise that high intakes of healthy fats — especially saturated fats — boost health and longevity. As reported by STAT News:6
"Its research team recorded the eating habits of 135,000 adults in 18 countries — including high-income, medium-income, and low-income nations — and followed the participants' health for more than seven years on average. Among the PURE participants, those with the highest intake of dietary fat (35 percent of daily calories) were 23 percent less likely to have died during the study period than those with the lowest fat intake (10 percent of calories).
The rates of various cardiovascular diseases were essentially the same across fat intake, while strokes were less common among those with a high fat intake. Upending conventional wisdom, the findings for carbohydrate intake went in the opposite direction. PURE participants with the highest carbohydrate intake (77 percent of daily calories) were 28 percent more likely to have died than those with the lowest carbohydrate intake (46 percent of calories)."
Low-Fructose Diet Significantly Reduces Liver Fat in Mere Days
In related news, another recent study found a reduced-sugar diet lowered liver fat by more than 20 percent in just nine days — a reduction co-author Susan Noworolski called "unprecedented." Processed fructose found in soda, fruit juices and processed food is a major contributor to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition affecting an increasing number of children. In the past two decades, NAFLD among children has more than doubled.
According to lead author Jean-Marc Schwarz, "Our study clearly shows that sugar is turned into fat, which may explain the epidemic of fatty liver in children consuming soda and food with added sugar. And we find that fatty liver is reversed by removing added fructose from our diet."
NAFLD raises your risk for Type 2 diabetes. Conventional advice recommends a low-fat diet for Type 2 diabetics, but this and other research refutes that strategy.7 On the contrary, a high-fat, low-carb diet has been shown to improve both blood sugar levels and blood lipids.8
Dr. Robert Lustig (who was not involved in the study but has investigated the role of fructose in disease for many years) commented on the results, saying, "Many people think that fructose provides empty calories. But no, they are toxic calories because they are metabolized only in the liver, and the liver turns the excess into fat."