New research published on the online HIV resource TheBodyPro.com found that a low carb diet may actually be very beneficial for older people living with HIV. You see, keto may be trending, but it isn’t new. Doctors have been using it for years to treat for certain types of epilepsy and is now being studied in other conditions that involve inflammation, like diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. And new research presented at the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC) conference in Denver suggests that the keto diet may be beneficial for older people living with HIV who experience cognitive decline (supported by similar findings among older HIV-negative adults).

Though researchers haven’t been able to pinpoint why older people living with HIV are likely to experience more severe cognitive impairment than their HIV-negative counterparts, they do feel it may have something to do with the body’s inflammatory response to the virus.

The research team, based at University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Nursing, evaluated the keto diet’s effect on 14 HIV-positive older adults with cognitive impairment, splitting them into two groups. The first group ate a normal diet, and the second ate a combination of high-fat proteins and nuts and low-carb veggies. After 12 weeks, the keto group saw a significant improvement in executive function (they scored better on tests meant to evaluate memory, processing speed, and ability to switch tasks quickly). They also scored better on other cognitive measures, like attention span and spatial recognition.

Researchers concluded that the ketogenic diet might offer a viable non-drug solution for treating cognitive decline in older adults with HIV— which could lower the amount of drugs that need to be taken, therefore lowering toxicity levels.

However, other major HIV resources raise concerns over the diet’s safety in regards to related HIV/AIDS conditions.

“The primary concern with this kind of diet is that the muscle is prone to loss or wastage,” argues a recent report on AfroAIDSInfo.org about the keto diet in terms of poz people. “Aside from that muscle tone degeneration may also experienced. In a normal diet, carbohydrates are typically used for the production of glucose. Due to that, the protein turns out to be the one responsible for muscle repair.”

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