Many of my clients ask me - "What can be achieved by maintaining a Clean Keto Lifestyle?" I then proceed to rattle off a long list benefits ranging from shedding excess pounds to having amazing energy. But research is now linking the ketogenic diet as a tool to treat and prevent serious health conditions, which is even more exciting! Let's review the details!
Let's start with the most popular benefit - WEIGHT LOSS
The ketogenic diet works great to help shed extra pounds. Reason #1 - you are removing sugar & grains from your diet and switching your body to a fat-burning machine. You can turn your body into a fat-burning machine by eating the right macronutrient portions and getting into ketosis. Also, the proportion of high fats allows for increased energy and greater satiety, which is a common reason why a lot of other diets fail. And let's be honest - any so-called "diet" that encourages you to eat butter and steak is very appealing to most!
Cardiovascular Disease and High cholesterol
Dr. Jeff Volek and Dr. Richard Feinman published a study in 2005 showing that markers of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease actually improved with carbohydrate restriction. In addition, good cholesterol (HDL) levels rise, triglycerides lower, and inflammation reverses while on a ketogenic diet.
When looking at all chronic diseases, including heart disease, one thing they all have in common is high levels of insulin and inflammation. Insulin metabolism and dietary carbs, not saturated fats, drive up insulin and inflammation in the body. With inflammation comes oxidative stress, which is a driving force in heart disease. The ketogenic diet lowers insulin levels and decreases inflammation within the body, which results in better markers.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Our brain needs fat and cholesterol to function; in fact it is made up of 25% cholesterol. Alzheimer’s is widely gaining notoriety as being “type 3 diabetes” caused by an insulin resistance in the brain. With increased inflammation and insulin levels in the body, the brain no longer has a sensitivity to insulin and cannot use glucose as a fuel source, causing mental decline.
When people follow a ketogenic diet, their brains use ketones as a source of energy, thus decreasing insulin levels and improving cognition. Sugar and carbohydrates further narrow the blood vessels in our brain, decreasing cerebral blood flow, which can cause premature aging, dementia, and significant mental decline. So by removing these from our diet, we can potentially prevent these symptoms.
In 1924, German Nobel Prize winning scientist Otto Warburg stated “the prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar.”
Cancer cells run primarily off of glucose. In fact, the most common test to look for recurrent cancer is a PET scan. Do you realize that the test requires the injection of GLUCOSE? The cancer cells, if present, feed on and grab up the glucose which then creates a positive test. So when we starve the cancer cells of their fuel, we in turn can starve the cancer. So one can conclude that no sugar in the diet means cancer cells cannot survive. Dr. Schmidt and Dr. Kammerer published a study on cancer patients in 2011 that showed 6 out of 8 patient treated with a ketogenic diet saw a decrease in the size of their tumor and improvement in their quality of life. This was their second study published with similar results.
Obviously, there is much more research needing to be done in this area. But the research is looking promising.
In addition, I have seen all of the below conditions be helped by the implementation of ketogenic diet. The improvement likely the result of reduced chronic inflammation in the body.
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Sleep disorders
- Gum disease
***If you have any of these medical conditions, always consult your doctor before beginning a ketogenic diet.