With the ever growing popularity of the Keto Diet, more people than ever are asking “Is the keto diet good for you?”
The keto diet is already famous for its amazing weight loss results, but is it a healthy way of eating too?
Here we’ll take a look at some of the benefits, and check out the science behind those claims too.
Certainly, the internet is awash with glowing success stories.
There are many thousands of people who have achieved their weight loss goals more quickly than they ever thought possible.
Many of these people would like to continue with their keto lifestyle after reaching their ideal weight.
They’re keen to continue with the additional health benefits of this low carb eating.
However, weight loss isn’t the only benefit of keto.Not everyone needs or wants to lose weight.
One of the reasons for considering the keto diet is to do with preventing or gaining relief from disease.
Often people with chronic diseases are interested in this option too. They may be suffering from chronic physical or mental illness and want to be more proactive about dealing with it.
Thankfully, there is a greater understanding of the need to actively prevent illness before it develops.
Also, it’s widely understood that you no longer have to suffer some chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes for the rest of your life.
There are literally dozens of diseases that were once considered to be life long problems, that we can reverse.
It’s well researched that the way we eat influences the chances of getting these diseases. They can very often be avoided or put into remission just by changing the way we eat.
The role of the keto diet in managing health issues
It has been known for over a century that the keto diet will reduce seizures in drug resistant epileptic children.
Following this discovery, scientists have been keen to examine if the known neuroprotective properties of the keto diet could be just as beneficial for other neurological conditions.
One of the main benefits of the keto diet is its ability to manage dangerous chronic inflammation.
While inflammation is a normal and healthy response to an injury or pathogen, chronic inflammation can cause multiple health problems.
Fortunately there is now a growing amount of evidence that proves that chronic inflammation is at the root of the development of many common diseases.
These conditions include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease such as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease
- Some cancers
- Neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer and Parkinson Disease
This study into the inflammation theory of disease was published in 2012.
Further, this study looked specifically at the link between Alzheimer disease and chronic inflammation.
How does the Keto Diet help to reduce chronic inflammation?
The keto Diet naturally contains foods that are known for their anti inflammatory properties.
Because of this, the diet is very effective at reducing the amount of inflammation that may be present. This is one of the main reasons for the many health benefits of the keto diet.
Some main anti- inflammatory foods are.
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Fatty fish (tuna, salmon, herring)
Fortunately, these are all foods that are included in the keto diet.
Obviously, with its emphasis on low carbohydrate ( no more than 5% of the daily intake) one food above all others is off the menu: Sugar.
Sugar, at 100% carbohydrate is a super inflammation causing food. It has no nutritional value at all, and should be completely avoided.
Even if you’re not going to follow the keto diet, at the very least make sure that you never use sugar, in any form.
Other inflammation causing foods include:
- Processed grains (wheat, rice, barley)
- Starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, butternut squash)
- High fructose fruit (bananas, pineapple, oranges)
- Corn oil
- Safflower oil
- Soybean oil
- Processed Foods
Again, these foods are off the menu with the keto diet. They are high carbohydrate foods, and can lead to unhealthy inflammation if eaten often.
Ketosis is a state in which the body produces the ketone beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB)
Together, chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are the two main causes of the development of many neurodegenerative diseases.
The keto Diet and obesity
Obviously, weight loss is one of the main reasons that people consider the keto.
It’s ability to help with the rapid loss of excess weight is now well-known. Less well-known is it’s ability to shift dangerous visceral fat.
Visceral fat is a unique type of body fat that has been implicated in numerous serious health problems
As you know, any excess body weight is unhealthy, but visceral fat is not only the most difficult fat to lose. It’s also the most dangerous.
This study suggests that visceral fat tissue releases free fatty acids and inflammatory cytokines into the portal vein.
This vein carries blood from the intestines, pancreas and spleen to the liver.
This causes the development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Reduce the development of some cancers
The link between the keto diet and cancer has been very well studied.
In this study from 2018, it was found that because the keto diet reduces blood sugar, it could also lower the risk o of insulin complications.
This is important because Insulin is a hormone that controls blood sugar that may have links to some cancers.
So, is there anything bad about the keto diet?
Here, the evidence is not so strong.
Certainly there are many studies and anecdotal accounts of the keto diet being followed for many months or years without complications.
However, its important to note that there is some evidence that long term keto diet could cause kidney stones or a build up of fat in the liver.
It has also been suggested that people following the keto diet may go without some vital vitamins and minerals.
In my opinion, this would only be an issue if the keto diet was not being followed correctly.
When care is taken to eat only nutritionally dense whole foods, it is perfectly possible to meet all your nutritional needs.
Simply make sure that you including some above ground vegetables, and low carb fruit options.
Further, because the keto diet can have a major beneficial effect on numerous long term health issues, some of the possible long term problems seem to be, on balance, worth any suggested risk.
However, I’m not here to give medical advice. I would always suggest that you sought the help of your medical adviser before you made any major change to your diet.
This is especially important if you are currently taking medication.
If you are taking medication for diabetes, this would have to be closely managed in the first few weeks of the keto diet.
So, in short, the evidence for or against the keto diet in the long term just isn’t available at this point.
It would be very much up to you to decide if your present weight or health issues would be best served by this diet.
My advice would be to use the keto diet to reach all your weight and health goals and then decide afterwards if you’d like to continue.
At that point, you could either carry on or move to a low carbohydrate diet that allows slightly more carbs than keto.
Many people have also had success by cycling in and out of ketosis. For more information about this read here.
Without a doubt, this diet offers amazing health and weight loss benefits.
Whether or not you choose to stay on it long term, there is no doubt that you will be much healthier after following it to reach your goals.