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A Swedish research team recently published a study in Cell Metabolism1 exploring the effects of a low-carb diet without reducing caloric intake. The study, performed at KTH Royal Institute of Technology’s SciLifeLab research center, merged clinical and data analysis to examine changes in the test subjects’ gut bacteria and metabolism.

A Combined Exploration of the Low-Carb Diet

The study involved 10 subjects2, all of whom displayed marked obesity and high liver fat content. Throughout the two-week study, individuals consumed an isocaloric, low-carb diet with increased protein content. Rather than looking at surface level data though, the study was a combined approach designed to deliver an in-depth analysis of the potential benefits of the low-carb lifestyle.

Scientists, nutritionists, and clinicians came together to apply a multifaceted approach to the study. By analyzing multiple data markers, they delved into the actual effects of a low-carb diet on the body’s omes (such as genomes, metabolomes, and proteomes) to identifying important biomarkers. Ultimately, this enabled them to make startling conclusions.

Rapid and Measurable Results

By the end of the two-week test period, the subjects showed extreme reductions of liver fat and other cardiometabolic risk factors, as well as a decrease in the synthesis of hepatic fat. Furthermore, the study showed that the metabolism of hepatic lipids has a significant link to rapid increases in B vitamins, as well as the bacteria that produce folic acid. These benefits are boosted even further by the reduction of fatty acid synthesis and an increase in both fatty acid oxidation and folate-mediated one-carbon metabolism.

KTH systems biology researcher, Adil Mardingolu, says “A carbohydrate-restricted dietary intervention such as the one we used can be an efficient treatment strategy for a severe health problem.”

Low-Carb Living Could Treat Certain Diseases

Jan Boren, lead author of the study and professor at the University of Gothenburg says, “We found that the diet, independently of weight-loss, induced rapid and dramatic reductions of liver fat and other cardiometabolic risk factors.”

Since liver fat is the most common and earliest abnormality noted in both non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD), a low-carb lifestyle could, potentially, be used to treat patients of the disease.

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