While the popularly known ketogenic diet is considered great for weight loss, it has many health-related benefits too. The diet is also recommended medically for the treatment of some diseases. When your body undergoes ketosis, the metabolism is switched to a whole new state where it burns fats instead of carbohydrates for energy. This alteration in the metabolic pathway brings many positive changes to your internal environment. The changes have been studied for medicinal purposes and are found to be a cure for some diseases and illnesses. Let’s first explain the keto diet before diving into keto health benefits.
The high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet is a type of diet that increases the intake of fats making them the main source of fuel. The consumption of carbs and protein, on the other hand, is restricted to a level that your body can no longer use carbs for energy. The fewer carbohydrates consumption makes is impossible for the body to obtain energy from glucose or sugar, the main source of fuel. So, to fulfill the body’s fuel needs, you need another source that comes in the form of stored fats. While on a keto diet, the body breaks down these stored fats in the liver into ketones. The ketone bodies then provide the body with the energy required for metabolic processes. This process of breaking down fats for fuel is known as ketosis.
When it comes to the keto diet, you have to be particularly careful with the foods you eat. Fat-rich foods are preferred in this special high-fat diet because they are used as the prime source of energy. The number of carbohydrates is strictly reduced and ranges to 20-50 grams. The ratio of fats and carbs intake is 3:1 i.e for every 3-4 grams of hat you consume 1 gram of protein and carbohydrates. It is the consumed fats from which your body obtains maximum calories. The breakdown of the percentage of calories consumption absorbed from keto nutrients is:
For a 2000-calorie diet, this means consuming 165g fats, 75g protein, and 40g carbohydrates. This implies selecting foods that meet the keto diet requirements to induce ketosis. Here is a keto food list that you can use to base your keto diet meals when on a ketogenic diet:
Besides having known the keto-friendly food items, you also need to be cautious of what you can not eat when on the diet. Here is the list of foods to avoid that we have narrowed down for your ease:
It is important to maintain the diet plan while keeping a check whether you are consuming the right food. Incorporating any of the prohibited foods can throw you out of ketosis. This means falling back to the starting point and beginning the diet all over again. This also means cutting off medical benefits of the keto diet that you initially began to experience after adopting the ketogenic lifestyle. To get the most out of the diet, eat right, eat enough.
As already mentioned, the keto diet also has some other benefits in addition to weight loss. The diet is well-studied and thoroughly researched for medicinal purposes. Some studies support that the diet may help reduce the chances of heart disease. Whereas, some other studies show that the diet might be effective for people with the following conditions:
Researchers are also attempting to study the effects of this diet on the following medical conditions:
For some of the medical conditions, the potential benefits of the diet are clear with extensive research on them such as epilepsy. While for some others, the diet is shown to be promising but is not supported by robust clinical research. Let’s now take a look at some of the above-mentioned health conditions for the treatment of which a keto diet might be recommended.
This is one of the health conditions for which the keto diet has scientifically been proven to be effective. A generous amount of valid research backs up the keto diet for the treatment of epilepsy and other epileptic disorders such as:
As per some researches, the keto diet for seizures is studied to be a nutritional treatment, especially for children. Children with focal seizures have shown a significant amount of recovery with just a ketogenic diet. There is found a considerable decrease in the frequency of the seizures by going on a keto diet.
It is usually recommended by doctors to the people who fail to respond to the medications alone. The doctors prescribe this medically proven keto diet for seizure control along with the medicines to treat epilepsy. The onset of ketosis stimulated by the ketogenic diet then helps reduce the use of anti-seizure drugs. In rare cases, the use of the drugs is completely put to an end after going on the diet. Not only does the keto diet helps seizures by controlling them but can also make you seizure-free. The probability of the latter happening is, however, relatively low. In almost half of the kids, the number of seizures is reduced down to 50% with the anti-convulsant ketogenic diet. Whereas, around 10-15% of the students are completely cured of epilepsy after they go on a medically supervised ketogenic diet.
It is imperative that you stick to the diet as prescribed by the doctor. Consume only keto-friendly foods especially the ones suggested by your doctor. Do not go off the diet, not even for one meal, because if you do so, the diet might lose its good effects. The impact of the diet on people with epilepsy is pretty much clear now. There is no denying the fact that the diet is greatly helpful for people suffering from epileptic seizures. However, what exactly is to be credited for the treatment is not yet known. No one knows whether it’s the reduced blood glucose or insulin level in the body or the increased number of ketone bodies. What actually improves the seizure activity is yet to be researched and investigated. It could either be the two of them or something entirely different.
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by changes in the metabolic system. In type 2 diabetes, the blood sugar level is increased to an alarming level that becomes threatening if it goes untreated. The body develops insulin resistance which is manifested in the form of impaired insulin function. In order to treat the disease, there needs to be a cure that could attack the root cause of the disease i.e insulin resistance. Many studies have shown how the keto diet may be helpful in treating people with type 2 diabetes. The ketogenic diet is a nutritional approach recommended by many doctors and may help lose excess weight that is related to diabetes. There are many medical centers that employ certain dedicated comprehensive programs to help treat diabetes using the nutritional keto approach.
The keto diet, as you know, diminishes the blood sugar level in the body by limiting the intake of carbs. The reduced glucose level is what helps counter high insulin levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. The fewer carbs consumption results in less insulin production in the body. This not only improves insulin sensitivity but also helps burn fat in diabetics. According to one study, diabetics may show an incredible 75% improvement in insulin sensitivity by going on a ketogenic diet.
People might also able to reduce or stop diabetes medications with the keto diet. One study found that 7 out of 21 participants with type 2 diabetes were able to discontinue the diabetes medication after they went on a keto diet. With diet, the values may return to normal range putting an end to medications. However, while you are still taking diabetes medicines after you go on a diet, consult your doctor to adjust your dosage according to restricted carbohydrates consumption.
In one of the studies, two groups of people were put in contrast to each other to test and compare the percentage of weight loss in them. One of the groups was of the people on the keto diet while the other was of people with higher carbs consumption. The ketogenic group was found to lose 11.1 kg (24.4 pounds), compared to 6.9 kg (15.2 pounds) in the other group. Considering the link between weight gain and type 2 diabetes, keto for type 2 diabetes is indeed an important upside of the diet for diabetics.
The diet, in short, helps improve insulin sensitivity in addition to helping shed some pounds. Apart from that, there are many other advantages of a keto diet for people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Keto and diabetes type 2 go considerably well together and it is safe to say that the keto diet is good for diabetics.
Migraine is a kind of headache that causes excruciating pain. It is, in fact, a neurological disorder that affects the quality of life, characterized by:
Despite being extremely common, migraine is not completely studied for its causes and potential medical treatment. What exactly causes the is yet to be known, however, some researches suggest that it results either due to:
Some recent studies have, however, sowed the potential of the keto diet in preventing and treating migraines, for which no other treatment options are available currently. The diet mimics fasting and is associated with an increased number of ketone bodies which eventually helps treat people going through the episodal migraine.
Migraine is associated with abnormalities in glucose transport and metabolism. The ketones bodies produced as a result of ketosis, are likely to circumvent some of these abnormalities by becoming an alternative fuel source to the brain. Keto benefits the brain by producing ketone bodies as a result of ketosis. Ketone bodies have been gaining a lot of attention recently for their ability to alleviate migraines. It is due to the association of neurological disorders with impaired glucose metabolism creating an energy deficit.
The issues stated above can be addressed by the ketogenic diet because of its ability to use stored fats to provide energy. This makes up for the energy deficit created due to impaired glucose metabolism, one of the studied causes of migraine headaches. Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), the most effective and well-studied ketone, essentially does the job. It is because it accounts for 70% of all the ketone bodies produced as a result of the ketogenic diet-induced ketosis.
There have been many studies done that support the potential of the high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet to mitigate episodal migraine. Some of the studies with their potential effect on migraine are given below:
The researches might not be completely conclusive yet shows robust evidence supporting the usefulness of the keto diet for migraines. However, it is advisable to consult the doctor before going on the diet to lessen migraine attacks.
Autism is a range of neurodevelopmental disorders caused by abnormalities in brain function and structure. Also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the disorder is characterized by:
As far as the exact cause of the ASD is concerned, it is not yet known. The environmental and genetic factors are, however, considered the only recognized causes so far. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 54 children gets affected by autism in the United States today. It is usually diagnosed in childhood and is treated with speech therapies. The symptoms and signs depicted by people affected by autism can easily be distinguished and are as follow:
These are only a few symptoms. There are many others too. Some people also experience seizures, a feature similar to epilepsy. Since it shares a common feature with epilepsy and involves brain dysfunction, it is also studied for its treatment with the ketogenic diet.
It has been found that the keto diet may be helpful for the treatment of autism. The disorder typically results from the over-excitement of the brain cells. What the keto diet does is, it controls the over-stimulation of the brain cells. By doing so, it helps improve most of the behavioral problems. The following are some of the researches mildly supporting the keto for autism for its health benefits:
All these researches and many more, however, are not backed up by strong evidence yet show promise to help autistic people.
There is no straight-up answer to this as it depends on your metabolic system and how your medical condition reacts to the high-fat keto diet. The investigations and the researches show varied results. Some conditions are favored by only feeble evidence. While some others such as epilepsy are backed up strong pieces of evidence supporting the health benefits of a keto diet for that particular condition. However, to give a rational answer to your query, it is advised to consult the doctor before you start following the keto diet for medical reasons. To stay on the safe side, and to avoid any potential risks of the diet, follow it under the supervision of a registered dietitian.