There are several reasons why the keto diet has been trending so hard for the past few years.
All the celebrities have tried it, and it is on the cover of every health and wellness magazine.
But do the health benefits of keto extend beyond simply looking and feeling better?
In this article, we will examine five more serious health conditions that may benefit from cutting carbs.
You will learn about the keto diet and diabetes, keto for PCOS, keto and cancer, and more.
And, if you or anyone you know is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or obesity, you may be among the vast majority of the population who can benefit from a low carb diet.
Read on to learn more!
WHAT IS THE KETO DIET?
To understand the health benefits of the keto diet and how they may apply to several serious health indications, you first must understand what keto is and how it works.
Essentially, the main goal is to get into and stay in ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state that occurs when your body switches from using glucose for energy to using fat. Glucose is a saccharide (AKA sugar).
Any carbohydrates (which include sugar, starches, and sadly, alcohol) will convert to glucose in your system. When this happens, your body will fuel itself on those macros before it begins working on (metabolizing) anything else.
This means that any extra fat in your body will never disappear if you continue flooding your body with starchy foods. Breads, pastas, pizza, potatoes (and unfortunately, most fruits) are going to have to be restricted with the keto diet.
By the way, a macro is a dietary building block. Everything you eat falls into one of three macro categories. It is either a protein, a fat, or a carbohydrate.
So, to reap the health benefits of the keto diet, you will have to consume roughly 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. When you begin to calculate and track your net carb intake (translation: net carbs = total carbs minus fiber), you will quickly realize that 5% leaves room for, well… absolutely nothing besides vegetables.
Here’s the thing about the keto diet: you are either in or you are out. There is no such thing as a cheat day or even a cheat meal.
The moment you cheat, you will be kicked out of ketosis, which can take several days to even achieve. Beyond that, after being kicked out, it can hurt to be let back in. Literally… hurt.
This is because as your body is going through withdrawals from glucose, you will probably experience flu-like symptoms. The keto flu is real, and it is far from fun.
Now that you understand what the keto diet is, how it works, and what happens if you cheat on keto, let’s talk about some of the upsides. You may want to sit down because this might take a while.
The keto diet is wonderful for many, many reasons. On top of weight loss (without losing any muscle mass), an increase of energy (which may include better athletic performance), a healthier immune system, and better sleep, keto can also be a life changing way to heal, cope with, and mitigate some very serious health indications.
Below, we have outlined our top five, but this list is far from complete.
Benefits of the Keto Diet for Health Conditions
Obesity is dangerous, and in the Western world, it has become all too common.
Whether due to our affinity for hyper-productivity and convenience, which has yielded the fast-food industry, or our addiction to screen time, Americans are some of the biggest sufferers of obesity and the health complications therein.
The pandemic has only made this situation worse.
One of the significant benefits of the keto diet is that you will consume mostly fat, so you will need to eat less to stay full throughout the day.
As we explained above, your metabolism will also switch gears from using glucose (derived from sugar and carbohydrates) to using fat for energy.
This is known as being in ketosis, which is the primary goal of the keto diet. When this occurs, your body essentially becomes a fat-burning machine.
This is the reason why most people experience extreme and dramatic weight loss when they begin the keto journey.
For this reason, the health benefits of the keto diet can be extremely beneficial for those suffering from obesity. Results may be so dramatic and fast that, in some cases, gastric bypass surgery may avoided. Of course, check with a health care professional before making any drastic dietary change.
Remember that going keto does involve very high fat consumption, which may not be ideal or healthy for everyone.
2. ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AND KETO
Your brain is an amazing and complex organ. It is also sensitive and can be, at times, fragile.
According to research published by the Alzheimer’s Association, as of 2019, 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s Disease. This number is projected to increase to over 14 million by the year 2050.
So, how does the keto diet relate to Alzheimer’s Disease?
When your body transitions into ketosis, it switches from metabolizing glucose for energy to metabolizing fat instead. When this happens, you produce ketones.
Among the many health benefits of the keto diet, there has been some speculation and research around whether or not the diet can help those suffering from (or even help prevent the onset of) Alzheimer’s Disease.
According to research conducted by the Charlie Foundation for Ketogenic Therapies, “elements of the ketogenic diet may provide symptomatic relief and even delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.”
This is due to the high-level production of ketones that occur when your body is in ketosis. According to Mary Newport, M.D., “It is possible, with the introduction of ketones in the body, that some repair and reversal could occur in Alzheimer’s.
It seems likely that ketones can stimulate the growth and survival of neurons and the extension from neurons (axons and dendrites), thereby increasing the connections between brain cells (synapses).
The decrease in synaptic density is likely the primary pathological defect in Alzheimer’s disease”.
2. KETO FOR POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME (PCOS)
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is super sneaky. In fact, 70% of women who have it are not even aware that they do.
The scariest part is that it is the number one cause of infertility in women. Now that we have your attention read on to learn whether you should consider going keto for PCOS.
The keto diet may be beneficial for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. This is because inflammation contributes to and worsens both insulin resistance and PCOS.
One of the best health benefits of the ketogenic diet is that it is incredibly anti-inflammatory when the intake of fats is mostly plant-based. (What we are really saying here is don’t consume 75% dairy. Dairy is not anti-inflammatory.)
With a diet that prescribes 75% fat intake, it is all too easy to eat cheese by the handful and call it a day. That is not only a great way to have constant digestive issues, but it is also an easy way to become vitamin and mineral deficient.
So, if your fats are mostly healthy (i.e., nuts, seeds, avocados, fish oil, olives, etc.), the keto diet can be an excellent option for treating inflammation and PCOS.
3. KETO AND CANCER
If you are considering keto and suffer from cancer, it is vital to communicate with your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet and lifestyle.
No miracle food can cure cancer, but dietary choices and changes can help slow the spread.
According to research published by the MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas, there is a link between the keto diet and slowed growth of some types of cancerous tumors in mice.
Evidence also revealed that the keto diet might be linked to promising results in humans with certain kinds of brain tumors. Conversely, women who have breast cancer are actually advised to consume a low-fat diet.
Because of the incongruence in research and the many types of cancer, it is very important to have your healthcare professional’s input.
4. KETO AND DIABETES
With the keto diet, your intake of carbohydrates and sugar is almost entirely cut out. This is because carbohydrates are metabolized as glucose in your system, which is counterproductive for kicking your body into a state of ketosis.
It is recommended that people who have type 2 diabetes develop a management plan for their blood sugar levels. Because glucose will cause a blood sugar spike, the mass consumption of carbs can be very dangerous for those with type 2 diabetes.
For this reason, the keto diet and diabetes may be a great match for a healthier lifestyle.
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