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A New Study Shows Ketosis Helps Stem Cells Survive Stress

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  Published on June 20th, 2022
  Reading time: 2 minutes
  Last modified August 1st, 2023

You’re always hearing about the positives of a ketogenic diet, from enhanced performance and cognition to weight loss. The science continues to grow showing that this lifestyle really can improve your overall wellness and help you achieve your goals. A recent study shows the metabolic state of ketosis could help stem cells survive stress. [1] Let’s take a deeper look at these interesting study results.

What Are Stem Cells?

All of the cells in your body with specialized functions are generated from stem cells. Stem cells are your body’s raw materials, and in your body or a laboratory, stem cells divide to create daughter cells that either become new stem cells or specialized cells with specific functions, such as brain, bone, or heart muscle cells. 

Basics Behind the Study

Our own Dr. Ryan Lowery is always excited to delve into the research whenever a promising study like this one arrives on the scene. This recent study in Cell Metabolism concluded that ketosis and the primary ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) could cause muscle stem cells to become more resistant to stress. Improving the resistance of your stem cells with a ketogenic diet could be highly beneficial.

Fasting simply means refraining from eating for a period of time, and for decades, scientists have been trying to mimic the fasting state to induce the benefits of fasting for stem cells, longevity, and overall health. Short-term fasting does assist the regeneration of various tissue types, and it can place your tissues and cells in a protected state where they’re highly resistant to environmental toxicity and stressors. 

At the same time, fasting isn’t the right choice for everyone, and it does present some challenges, such as slowing muscle repair due to the lack of nutrients. So how can you obtain some of the stem cell advantages of fasting without the downsides? Enter ketosis.

Keto for Muscle Resilience

The study showed how fasting induces a resilient dormant, inactive state in muscle stem cells (MuSCs), resulting in heightened resistance to stress. It also revealed how ketosis during a ketogenic diet or exogenously administered ketones promote this highly resilient state in muscle stem cells and notably improve the survival of stem cells when facing cellular stress.

Muscle cell stress

Muscle stem cells are crucial when it comes to muscle regeneration following an injury, which could be one of the reasons why lots of people report that their injuries heal better and faster when they’re following a ketogenic diet.

BHB is the primary ketone body responsible for this heightened resilience to stress. BHB is able to provide this resilience due to its function as an HDAC inhibitor within muscle stem cells. An HDAC inhibitor is a substance that makes a chemical change that prevents tumor cells from dividing. In fact, HDAC inhibitors are actually being studied as potential adjunct cancer treatments.

Let’s just add this to the ever-growing mountain of reasons to go keto, ditch the sugar, and welcome in the healthy fats.

Steph Green is a content writer specializing in and passionate about healthcare, wellness, and nutrition. Steph has worked with marketing agencies, written medical books for doctors like ‘Untangling the Web of Dysfunction,’ and her poetry book ‘Words that Might Mean Something.’ In 2016, after four years of struggling with her own health problems and painful autoimmune disease, Steph developed a life-changing and extensive knowledge of keto, nutrition, and natural medicine. She continues on her healing journey and enjoys helping others along the way.



Benjamin, D. I., Both, P., Benjamin, J. S., Louie, S. M., Nomura, D. K., & Rando, T. A. (2022). Fasting induces a highly resilient deep quiescent state in muscle stem cells via ketone body signaling. Cell Metabolism, 34(6), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2022.04.012

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