This low-carb ketogenic diet was originally developed for patients with epilepsy but in more recent years has become very popular with more people looking to learn about it’s therapeutic and health benefits, many health experts believe it is very good for your body and your brain.
Ketogenic-diets and fasting have been used to treat epilepsy for thousands of years, a version of which has even been traced back to 500 BC.
If we look forward a bit, Dr. Rawle Geyelin gave a presentation in 1921 to the American Medical Association stating that a fasting diet had reduced the level of seizures and the effects had become long-lasting.
Geyelin carried on his great work perfecting the low-carb, high-fat diet. This continued for another 20 years and then modern antiepileptic drugs took over the work and it declined as a result, the treatments stopped seizures in many patients over the years,
20 years back scientists once again started to look at the benefits of ketogenic diet, although a ‘starvation’ diet in effect the diet can be used for much more than just epilepsy and has many benefits.
The diet is used as a way to get our bodies into something called Ketosis.
Our bodies normally use glucose for fuel, the result of our diet containing moderate to high carbohydrates, the carbs are broken down into glucose, which is converted to energy and sent where it is needed.
When we restrict the amount of carbs going into our bodies which creates a lack of glucose, our liver then produces Ketones. this shifts our body towards fat utilization, this process can be brought on by starvation, alcoholism and type-1 diabetes.
When our bodies are in this state they start to utilize these Ketones and the level of them in our blood rises. Ketones are acidic in nature and contain acetone, acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate. This can in turn lead to some problems, starvation is not good!.
If left unchecked the Ketones can increase the acidity of the blood, affecting the urine causing damage to the liver and kidneys.
If it is done properly however it can be utilized to effectively stop a number of illnesses.
How It’s Done
A Keto diet typically involves restricted carbohydrates at no more than 50g per day. Food sources should come from vegetables, nuts and dairy etc. Refined carbs like pasta, bagels and cereals should be best avoided.
Refined sugars like high sugar juices and fruits should also be kept at bay.
You should devise your meals to comprise lots of protein and healthy fats (avocados, coconut oils and avocados), a good ratio to use is 60/35/5, 60% of calories from fat, 35% from protein and 5% from carbs.
The required protein you need should be 1.5 to 1.75g per kg of your ideal bodyweight.
A normal western diet by comparison is 10-20% fat, 65-85% carbs and 5-15% protein.
It is important not to overdo the protein as this can prevent the body from entering Ketosis.
It is important to remember that not all fats make you fat, there many good and bad fats, it is the bad fats your body cannot deal with and therefore stores as fat, but good fats like olive oil and nuts are very god for you.
Why It Works
Researchers are not 100% sure why it works but it just does, many theories are now being presented however that may state the possible causes.
Keto diets have a huge effect beneficially on neurological disorders, especially ones involving the death of neurons, this may be something to do with cellular energetics.
The diet is associated with an increased level of Ketones in circulation around the body, this is much more efficient fuel for the brain. Ketones can also increase the level of mitochondria, the power packs inside of cells.
There is a theory that these boosted energy cells capacity created by these effects is what gives our neurons the ability to resist metabolic changes. Other biochemical changes that take place like ketosis, higher fat levels and low glucose levels may help contribute to neuronal protection through some nifty anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions.
The Keto diet itself is being more and more considered to help treat many neurological diseases and injuries. This list includes things like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, stroke’s and even traumatic brain injuries. Older adults with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s can also benefit from a good Keto diet as it can also offer some good memory improvements.
Many Neuroscientists have attributed the Keto diet’s brain protecting qualities to a list of things:
- During metabolic stress, Ketone bodies act as an alternative fuel source.
- Ketosis greatly reduces the toxicity caused by glutamate acid, a common problem when a brain injury happens.
- It increases GABA levels (y-Aminobutyric acid). This is an important inhibitory neurotransmitter.
- It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- The diet helps stop various forms of cell death.
- Restricting your carbohydrates helps protect against oxidative and glutamate stress as well as other things.
The Ketogenic diet was originally meant for epilepsy patients and it works extremely well. Children with refractory epilepsy on a Keto diet for a period of 6 to 24 months showed effects of seizures decrease by 90% or eliminate altogether.
Weirdly, the link between Ketone bodies and anticonvulsant effectiveness isn’t clear, many researchers theorize that it has something to do with acetoacetate and acetone. They have been shown to have anticonvulsant properties in animal models.
The Keto diet can also help in fighting off various types of cancer and tumors. It also helps with treating brain tumors,, this is most likely to be due to the neuroprotective qualities.
It has even helped one elderly woman manage her tumor, when used in conjunction with radiotherapy it can also be used to treat brain tumor cells, this has been tested in mice. Quite a few researchers believe that a restricted Keto diet is a good alternative to standard care for managing malignant brain tumors.
A study was conducted in 2011 that found that the diet is even suitable for advanced cancer patients. It has no side effects and could improve certain aspects of life and blood parameters in some patients with advanced metastatic tumors.
The Ketogenic diet is considered to be helpful with people trying to lose weight although the evidence of it’s efficiency and safety are mixed.
A 2006 study has concluded that both Ketogenic and non-Keto diets are good for weight loss. It has been found however that the Keto diet affects metabolic rates and emotional parts of the brain.
The Keto diet works great for a period of 3 to 6 months compared to a traditional diet, the differences become negligible after a year however. Keto is associated with favorable changes in triglyceride and HDL; cholesterol levels (The good type), however it does result in lower LDL levels compared to conventional low-fat diets.
in 2010 Nancy Kreb concluded in a study that the effects of a Keto diet will be most effective in severely obese adults.
The Keto diet has also been used in conjunction with athletics and exercise. Many athletes and bodybuilders now swear by it. Formal studies are limited but it has been found that exercise mixed with a Keto diet can help people to lose weight.
This diet works very well for people with diabetes as it is a low-carb diet. It is very effective at improving glycemic control in diabetic patients and also helps to stabilize hyperglycemia and also has a positive effect on ameliorating the diabetic condition.
Please feel free to comment below as I hope that you can use a Ketogenic diet to your advantage.