Too much of anything can be harmful, even if it is a diet designed for weight loss. In a new study, researchers have recommended taking breaks from the keto diet, a popular choice for weight loss, as following it long-term could lead to accelerated organ aging.

A ketogenic diet is known to improve certain health conditions, such as diabetes. However, it is also associated with pro-inflammatory effects.

"To put this in perspective, 13 million Americans use a ketogenic diet, and we are saying that you need to take breaks from this diet or there could be long-term consequences," said the lead author of the study, Dr. David Gius from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

According to the study published in the journal Science Advances, a continuous long-term ketogenic diet may induce senescence, the accumulation of aged cells in normal tissues, affecting the health of heart and kidney function in particular. However, those who took a planned keto break did not experience pro-inflammatory effects due to aged cells.

The researchers made the findings based on a mice study conducted among a group of mice fed on a ketogenic diet and compared it to the control group on a standard diet. Those on the keto diet received more than 90 percent of their calories from fat and less than 1 percent from carbohydrates. The control group received 17 percent of calories from fat and 58 percent from carbohydrates.

The heart, kidney, liver, and brain tissue samples of both groups were analyzed for senescence. The results showed that mice in the control group had more senescent cells in their organs, particularly their kidneys, and had an average of four times more cellular senescence than those in the control group.

"As cellular senescence has been implicated in the pathology of organ disease, our results have important clinical implications for understanding the use of a ketogenic diet. As with other nutrient interventions, you need to 'take a keto break," Gius said.

"While the ketogenic diet is probably a good thing, [it is not for] everyone. And importantly, you need to take a break. I think our paper really says we need to study this more rigorously," Gius added.