With a PhD in neuroscience and physiology from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Rutgers University, Dominic D’Agostino is now an associate professor at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. Dominic D’Agostino’s research is focused on areas such as nutritional ketosis, ketone supplementation and a wide range of metabolic-based therapies.
The ketogenic diet has become popular for its ability to help people lose weight and maintain muscle through supporting the body’s ability to remain in a state of nutritional ketosis. In ketosis, the body’s metabolic system gains its energy primarily from fatty acids, which the liver converts fast into molecules called ketones. Ketones also serve as powerful signaling molecules to boost antioxidant gene expression and reduce systemic inflammation.
Taking ketone supplements, often referred to as “exogenous ketones”, can play an important role in pursuing a optimizing your metabolic health. These supplements function in one of two ways: they augment energy levels for those already in ketosis, or they help push the body into nutritional ketosis. Ideally the ketone supplement (ketone salt) should be mixed with ketogenic fats, like medium chain triglycerides (MCT oil), which also stimulates endogenous ketogenesis.
Eating a ketogenic diet and taking supplements may not be enough to reach your goals, however. If you continue to gain weight, you may need to further decrease your carbohydrate intake to start ketosis, or you may need to decrease your overall calories (most important) to ensure you take in less than your body requires to maintain your current weight so that you can burn stored fat. Interestingly, things like nutritional ketosis, ketone supplementation and intermittent fasting make it easier for people to create a calorie deficit through appetite suppression effects.
Dominic D’Agostino holds a doctorate in neuroscience and physiology from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. In addition to his research on muscle wasting and motoneuron diseases, Dominic D’Agostino recently conducted a study on the role of exogenous ketone supplements in reducing anxiety-related behavior.
Basing their research on the evidence that nutritional ketosis can improve seizures and neurological conditions, researchers administered ketone supplements to Wistar Albino Glaxo/Rijswijk (WAG/Rij) and Sprague-Dawley (SPD) rats to study their effects on anxiety-related behavior, as measured by performance on an elevated plus maze (EPM).
The researchers found that ketone supplementation raised blood βHB levels in the two rat models and lowered anxiety-related behavior. These findings suggest that ketone supplementation could be an effective substitute for a strict ketogenic diet to achieve nutritional ketosis as an approach to treating anxiety.
The results of the study were published in the scientific journal, Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, in December 2016.
As an assistant professor at the College of Medicine Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology at the University of South Florida, Dr. Dominic D’Agostino explores the benefits of ketone supplements and hyperbaric oxygen therapy to slow cancer growth. Recently, Dr. Dominic D’Agostino published an article entitled “Non-toxic metabolic management of metastatic cancer in VM mice: novel combination of ketogenic diet, ketone supplementation, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.”
Ketones are high-energy metabolic substrates produced when the body begins burning fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates. When the body does not produce sufficient insulin, glucose begins to accumulate in the blood stream and does not enter the cells. The cells then burn fat instead of glucose, and ketones form in the blood. This is why a ketonic diet can help individuals lose weight and retain muscle. While ketones can be devastating for a diabetes patient, innovative research shows their potential efficacy in the treatment of cancer.
Since sugar is a significant fuel for most cancers, replacing most carbohydrates with healthy fats and proteins can starve cancer cells and inhibit their growth. In Dr. D’Agostino’s study, mice with metastatic cancer who received ketone supplements and hyperbaric oxygen therapy lived more than twice as long as mice who received a high-carbohydrate diet.