From a clinical standpoint, the keto diet has been used by doctors to treat conditions for more than 80 years. The diet is useful for reducing and preventing certain diseases and conditions. While more research needs to be conducted, the diet may solve a broad range of ailments from diabetes to cancer. The keto diet is an effective diet that is designed to help rid your body of fat, and it seems to create an inhospitable environment for other diseases and conditions.
Ketogenic Diet Profile
The ketogenic diet requires participants to consume a high amount of fat, medium level of protein and minimal carbohydrates. The goal is to prevent the body from using glucose as a fuel. When the body switches over to using fatty acids as fuel, you are entering into the ideal stage of the diet. Your body will begin to burn more fat, and you'll be able to start reaping the rewards of a ketogenic lifestyle.
When high levels of fatty acids are oxidized, large amounts of acetyl-CoA are generated. This exceeds the body's natural capabilities and results in the burning of ketone bodies within the liver. As plasma levels of ketones rise, they become the preferred source of energy. This is most especially true with the brain. The diet has been in use for years as a treatment for various conditions and doctors are well aware of the mechanisms that make it work.
The ketogenic diet that most people use was developed in the 1920s. It was intended to replicate the changes within the body that occur when food is in short supply. The traditional diet requires dieters to consume 80 to 90 percent of their calories from fat. The remainder of the calories should come from protein and carbohydrates. The modern version tends to take 75 percent of the calories from fat, 20 percent from protein and 5 percent from carbohydrates.
While carbohydrates are generally the first place that the body goes to for energy, when they are in short supply, ketones serve a cleaner and more stable energy source. The problem with keto diets is that it takes a bit of time for the body to figure out how to use the new energy source properly. Once it does, the body becomes a disease-fighting machine.
Treatment of Epilepsy and Spasms
Traditionally, the keto diet has been used by doctors to treat epilepsy in children. The benefit of the diet is that parents don't have to prescribe potentially harmful medications, and if kids stick to the diet, they can adequately control their seizures. The diet doesn't work equally well in adults, but it is still useful for mitigating symptoms. More research needs to be completed to find out why it works in children and not adults, but one possible reason is the freedom adults have to choose what they eat.
Not only does the diet work to treat epilepsy in children, it is also beneficial for the treatment of West syndrome, which is a disorder characterized by infantile spasms. This is a type of epilepsy that starts very young and occurs in about one in 2,500 to 3,000 children. The symptoms typically occur within the first year of life, and the attacks are generally very brief. However, a modified keto diet that is suitable for infants can help reduce the symptoms of the disorder.
On a more severe scale, you have the Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. This is also a form of epilepsy, but it is characterized by several different kinds of seizers and an intellectual disability. The symptoms for these children usually start between three and five years of age, and a majority of suffers have tonic seizures that create an uncomfortable muscle stiffness. The seizures are brief, but they can be very debilitating. A keto diet has been shown to lessen the severity of the symptoms.
Dravet Syndrome was known as epilepsy up until 1989. The syndrome now has some unique characteristics that differentiate it from other forms of epilepsy. The disease will start when a child is in infancy, but it continues throughout their entire life. The keto diet can help reduce the severity of some of the symptoms, but it does not serve as a complete cure.
One of the most promising areas of research is the treatment of various types of brain disorders through the use of a ketogenic diet. Practitioners of the keto diet know that it helps increase brain function so it should come as no surprise to them that the keto diet can help with various brain disorders. In most cases, the effects are limited to reducing the symptoms, but there seems to be some evidence it may have the ability to modify brain disorders as well.
In Alzheimer's disease, there is a good possibility that the keto diet can act as a disease modifier. The diet definitely provides symptom relief for some lucky individuals, and it appears to improve the memory of Alzheimer's disease patients. The memory improvement in patients had a measurable correlation with plasma levels of a compound that is produced when medium-chain triglycerides are elevated. High levels of carbohydrates seem to worsen the ability of the brain in patients who have Alzheimer's disease.
There is a very limited set of studies that were performed in 2005 on the effect a keto diet has on Parkinson's disease. The study was uncontrolled, but it showed that Parkinson's patients were able to achieve a 43 percent reduction on the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale. This was after a 28-day trial of the ketogenic diet. All of the patients reported improvement, and the study demonstrated a correlation between high fatty acid intake and fewer symptoms.
Incredibly, the ketogenic diet seems to have an effect on those who have suffered from ischemia and traumatic brain injury. The diet has been reported to provide a 58 percent reduction in bruises on the brain that form on small blood vessel leaks. This occurred within 7 days of an injury, and it seems to suggest that the ketogenic diet has a neuroprotective action that affects people who have suffered from trauma to the brain.
Turning Back Aging
As we age, our body is less capable than it was when we were younger. The brain can degenerate to a state where we are no longer able to care for ourselves. The keto diet seems to protect the brain from this kind of aging and it can help support the healthy neural circuitry that is required for living a healthy and aware life.
Some research suggests that by using a different form of energy for fuel, the rate of degeneration can be slowed on a ketogenic diet. There are some risks of the keto diet to aging individuals in the sense that certain changes to the brain's synapses may end up operating less efficiently. However, the net gain from a keto diet tends to outweigh any loss from the diet.
One of the most well-known theories on how aging damages the body is through the study of free radicals. These free radicals can be corrected with a proper amount of antioxidants. Since free radicals can bind to our cells and cause destruction and inflammation, this can result in a less healthy body that is unable to fight off disease. Stopping free radical damage is as simple as getting more antioxidants into your bloodstream.
A keto diet is capable of minimizing oxidative damage to your system. It also increases the amount of uric acid and antioxidants. This can help someone who is on a keto diet because the resulting ketones can provide relief from the illness, disease or disorder. Since ketogenic diets reduce blood sugar levels and insulin, the body suffers from fewer side effects and is more capable of limiting the damage that high sugar levels have on tissue damage and aging in general.
Cell Death and Cancer
Thank Otto Warburg, the Nobel Laureate, for led the team that discovered that cancer cells aren't able to adequately flourish using energy that comes from cellular respiration. Other researchers have also confirmed the fact that cancer cells are fueled from the fermentation of glutamine. By eliminating the energy source for cancer cells, you can effectively begin to kill off cancer cells.
On a keto diet, lowering your carbohydrate intake will also reduce the level of the glucose that feeds cancer cells. Since cancer cells are then deprived of their energy supply, they can no longer reproduce and they die off. Cancer cells don't operate in the same was as normal cells, and they use insulin receptors on their surface. This allows cancer cells to feast on the glucose in the bloodstream in an excessive manner. Cancer cells thrive on glucose and they are more capable of spreading.
Since cancer cells have faulty mitochondria, they aren't able to metabolize fatty acids to provide energy for their system. When combined with intermittent fasting, it's possible to deliver a heavy blow to cancer cell proliferation. The cancer cells will literally starve to death when you stop giving them the fuel supply they need. The keto diet offers certain protections against creating an environment where cancer can thrive.
Inflammation and Hormone Sensitivity
It's no debate that inflammation can play a role in all sorts of neurogenerative disorders. Inflammation can also contribute to many of the disorders listed in this article. While enough research on humans is not yet available, studies on rats who have fasted show that fasting can provide protection against harmful cell death. Inflammation can cause confusion, aches and pain in your body that can make a disease more difficult to recover from.
Hormone sensitivity is another issue that can be remedied by the ketogenic diet. Whether you're trying to kill cancer cells or recover from a disease, keeping your blood sugar concentration well below 60mg/dl should help you maintain your health and ward off many diseases. For the best results on the diet, it's highly recommended that you add in multivitamins, probiotic and fatty acids to help support your body's attempts to build, repair and protect itself from disease.
While there is good evidence to suggest that the ketogenic diet can help cure these diseases, it doesn't mean you can stop seeking the advice of your doctor. It's important to maintain regular office visits with your doctor to ensure that you are getting the best possible treatment for whatever ails you. The ketogenic diet works well with many treatment methods, but you should advise your doctor that you're on a keto diet. This is important to ensure the doctor can properly adjust your medications to meet your diet.