Uses for the Keto Diet
The benefits and uses of a keto diet are seemingly endless, ranging from fat loss to the treatment of neurological disorders like epilepsy.
Weight Loss on the Keto Diet
Numerous randomized, controlled studies have shown that a high fat, low carb diet is optimal for weight loss. Why? In large part, because the Keto diet drastically reduces the prevalence of insulin–also known as the “fat storing hormone.” Keto helps the body transition from using carbohydrates (like white flour and sugars) for fuel, to using fat and protein for fuel. Lower insulin levels also mean that you’ll experience fewer cravings, fewer “hangry” moments, and more sustained energy levels!
Improved Mental Clarity
Ever notice the “brain fog” you get when you’re hungry? That’s your body’s signal that glycogen (or sugar) stores are running low! So, what happens when you rewire your body to rely on fats and proteins instead of sugar for fuel? That mental fogginess, triggered by low blood sugar, disappears! As the body produces ketones in the liver to convert fat stores into energy, you’ll notice that your mental clarity stays consistently high!
The keto diet improves physical endurance for the same reason it improves mental clarity. When your body uses carbohydrates for energy, you ride a rollercoaster of highs and lows that have a significant impact on your physical endurance. However, on a high-fat, low-carb lifestyle that brings the body into ketosis, your body is able to access a consistent source of energy for fuel: fat!
Ketones, which are produced in the liver to burn fat when the body’s glycogen stores are depleted, have the added benefit of blocking the NLRP3 inflammasome–which has been linked to obesity, insulin resistance, and inflammation in the body. This reduction in inflammation holds particular promise for chronic inflammatory conditions, like Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Mental and Emotional Health On the Keto Diet
The food we eat can have a significant impact on our mental and emotional health. In the presence of too much sugar or high and fluctuating levels of carbohydrates, the brain struggles to manage energy and hormone levels. By eliminating the rollercoaster of sugar highs and crashes, the brain is better able to regulate hormones that are critical for stabilizing mood and mental health.
Ketogenic Diet & Medical Conditions
The keto diet was first recognized as an effective treatment for childhood epilepsy in the 1920s. Keto continues to emerge as a natural treatment for many other medical conditions:
The medical literature is full of studies documenting keto’s effectiveness in managing and treating epilepsy in children and adults. For many people, keto is the key to reducing or eliminating drugs, while leading a life free of seizures.
Keto shows tremendous promise for treating, managing, and preventing type 2 diabetes. Because the ketogenic diet retrains the body to rely on heart-healthy fats for energy, glucose levels don’t rise and fall erratically, easing symptoms and promoting healthy weight loss.
A decrease in blood sugar levels is one of the most common triggers for migraines. Many people find that by switching to a diet that eliminates sugar crashes, migraines disappear as well!
Pilot studies show promising results when it comes to treating cancer with keto. Early indications show that cancer cells, which rely heavily on sugar to survive, are severely compromised in a low-insulin, low-glycogen environment.
Many people have found relief from Crohn’s disease through a ketogenic diet. Inflammation of the gut, the root of Crohn’s symptoms, can be significantly improved as ketones reduce inflammation throughout the body.
PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
PCOS, a painful condition that causes infertility, obesity, acne, and excess body hair. Several studies have shown that even minimal reductions in carbohydrate intake can improve PCOS symptoms, and many individuals have found that a keto diet drastically improves or even reverses their PCOS.
Many psychologists believe that keto could hold the key to preventing or mitigating the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, because of keto’s impact on insulin levels. Insulin resistance, a hallmark of the degenerative disease, cripples cognitive function and may be a leading factor in the onset of Alzheimer’s.
The ketogenic diet shows tremendous potential for neuroprotection, and many scientists believe it offers a viable treatment method and preventative measure for conditions like Parkinson’s disease.
It’s always important to talk to your doctor prior to making drastic dietary changes, and even more so if you have an existing medical condition. Your doctor will be able to help you make the most informed decision, and supervise your health.