The Keto Diet: Health Benefits Beyond Weight Loss

keto diet
Low-carb, higher fat/protein diets are nothing new in mainstream culture–chances are you’ve heard of the Atkins Diet or Protein Power or some other version of these weight loss plans. These diets are at their core high-fat, low-carb Keto Diets or KDs, so called because they put your body into a state where it runs on ketones, rather than glucose or glycogen (you can read more about the science behind the process here). But what you might not be aware of are the myriad medical studies that show how Keto Diets go far beyond weight loss. In all reality,the Keto Diet is common sense eating.

KETO-food-pyramid
The following is a list of health issues and the way that the Keto Diet brings about positive effects in each of them. As always, speak to your doctor before beginning any new diet or exercise plan—I’m not a scientist or a doctor, but this list was compiled based on studies from the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

  1. Keto Diet for a better brain: One of the most common issues people have with cutting carbohydrates from their diet is the “brain fog” that occurs in the first few days or weeks of a Keto Diet. Many times, people give up during this phase, but if you can hold out a little longer, there are many benefits including enhanced focus, clarity, and long-term neuroprotection. Several days into a Keto Diet there is a rise of ketones in the liver and an overall lowering of blood glucose levels. Fatty acids are better oxidized, leading to enhanced biogenesis, or the creation of brain cells. Synaptic energy (meaning the connections between existing brain cells) is increased and strengthened, while there is a decrease in oxidative stress (the process by which brain cells corrode and die). These findings are not speculative—they are based on human studies. Basically, your brain is running at its best when in a keto zone.
  2. Keto Diet in Alzheimer’s patients: Because of the neuroprotective properties of a KD, scientists believe there may be some benefit for Alzheimer’s patients to adhere to a Keto Diet. Patients with certain mutations of the disease have shown improved cognitive functioning in double-blind studies. More research needs to be done to conclude whether all variations of the disease may benefit from a KD, but the research is promising.
  3. Keto Diet to slow aging: General aging is caused by a gradual decline in neurons and neural circuit functions. We, of course, don’t know how to stop this process, but research shows that altering the energy metabolism of the brain can slow this process. Rodent studies have conclusive evidence that a KD implemented in older rats leads to slower overall cell degradation and the results for humans is currently underway.
  4. Keto Diet for Parkinson’s Disease: Clinical studies are currently underway to determine the effects of a KD on Parkinson’s sufferers, though an initial small study showed promising results.
  5. Keto Diet for Epilepsy: There is now conclusive evidence that a KD reduces the frequency of seizures in epilepsy patients, particularly in children. A Keto Diet is the first or second line of defense against seizure along with anti-convulsant drugs. Many patients prefer a KD as the first treatment because of the side-effects that can occur with anti-convulsants. Children or others who have difficulty swallowing pills or remembering to take medication every day often choose a Keto Diet. As well, some children who had no response at all to oral medication showed excellent results with a KD.
  6. Keto Diet on cancer cells: Of course there’s no known cure for cancer at this point, but because cancer cells exhibit high metabolic rates, they are also the most sensitive to a lack of glucose fuel (this is known as the Warburg effect). Pioneering work in animals has shown that a KD greatly slows the rate of tumor growth. While clinical proof in humans is still underway, a pilot trial of 16 patients with highly metastatic cancer showed improved functioning and decreased insomnia in patients, indicating that there are benefits that need to be explored further.

The Keto Diet is also being considered in the treatment of migraine, autism, stroke, traumatic brain injury, psychiatric disorders, and many other diseases. I find it very easy to maintain a KD. All of these medical results are promising, plus, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the main reason for me is that it keeps me thin. I’m very interested to see the results of further scientific research as they develop.

Pamela Bofferding is a native Texan who now lives with her husband and sons in New York City. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing with her dogs.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published July 18th, 2016
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  • Great article, thanks. I will use this and pass it on!

  • Richard Arlen

    I HAVE USED THIS DIET SINCE 1963 THEN IT WAS CALLED THE “”CANADIAN AIR FORCE DIET”” 60 CARBS OT LESS A DAY.IT WORKED AND I LOST 80LBS ON IT AND WAS ABLE TO KEEP OF ABOUT 60LBS FOR 5YRS BUT THE MINUTE YOU START INCREASING CARBS JUST BY LIFE STYLE CHANGE SUCH AS MARRAGE THE LBS CAME BACK .I HAVE USED FOR ABOUT 6 MORE TIMES WITHH THE SAME RESULTS I LOSE THE WEIGHT ,THEN IT COMES BACK THE MINUTE I INCREASE THE CARBS .PROBLEM WITH THE DIET IS THE LACK OF VERITY AND THE VERY LIMITED WAY YOU CAN FIX MEATS/EGGS CHEESE ETC.YOU GET VERY TIRED OF EATING JUST THOSE HIGH PROTEIN ITEMS

    • Without shouting, you are saying that the Canadian Air Force diet was Atkin before Atkin became popular?

  • Dr. Weezil

    It’s a very good therapeutic approach for the above-referenced disorders; however, it’s not sustainable for the long term as it does not provide adequate sources of glycogen for energy expenditures. Definitely not a good approach for the very active, athletes, or strength training.

    • Donnie Foster

      Joe Rogan would disagree… Not that he is a doctor, but he knows his stuff and works out like a mad man.

      • Who is Joe Rogan?

      • Donnie Foster

        Comedian and Announcer for UFC. No traditional credentials, but bright guy.

      • Since we are stuck in acronymitis, is UFC anything like UFO, since it is as apocryphal to me? I’ve got a suspicion this is a case of chronic sportitis…

      • Donnie Foster

        dude… If you don’t know what the UFC is, idk what to tell you. I don’t have time to catch you up on popular culture. I guess I’m a meathead, or I don’t love under a rock. Sigh… I sound like a dick. UFC is a fight league for Mixed Martial Arts. Martial Arts are is the art of defense and using ones body to defeat another.

      • Popular culture is a euphemism for contemporary propaganda.
        At 62 years of age, my Glock 19 and Mossberg 12 gauge are far better choices than something that can’t overcome them, regardless of how entertaining it might be. I get more than enough mindless contemporary splash from the millennials around me to recognize that it isn’t anything of importance to someone who wishes to remain grounded in reality. When the agents of the domestic enemy show up at your door, feel free to use Mixed Martial Arts on them until they shoot you with their mixed small arms.

  • Paul X

    At the bottom of that Keto pyramid (which means you should eat the most) it has “Eggs and Dairy”. Then beneath that pyramid it says “no milk”. What gives? Last I checked, milk was a dairy product…

    • Milk is a dairy product. Eggs are not. Milk comes from dairy animals, cows. Eggs come from chickens, which don’t lactate. Editing shouldn’t be done by those who aren’t proficient herein.

      • Paul X

        Talk about missing the point. Sheesh.

      • When the message is garbage, the geeks have a acronym to state it succinctly, GIGO, meaning garbage in, garbage out.
        The point is irrelevant when the data is worthless.

      • Synickel

        This whole article is GIGO.

      • You have an apparent problem with separating inputs from
        outputs. Do you engage in coprophagia?

      • Vierotchka

        Cheeses, yogurts etc., are dairy product in which there is very little or no lactose left because of how they have been elaborated.

  • Don’t forget that a ketogenic diet cured Dr. Terry Wahls’ multiple sclerosis.

  • Synickel

    It’s bizarre how non-scientific health “experts” can become to justify eating habits they want to enjoy. There is nothing truthful about these cockamamie diets. Check into the facts, and you’ll find Atkins himself died of blown-out kidneys due to following his own diet, according to his assistant. These diets seem to work for a while, but in the long run start tearing down the body’s organs and tissue.

    The easiest and most scientific rules to follow are, avoid animal products, avoid processed anything, eat natural, organic fruits, nuts and vegetables.

    • Atkin died of the trauma from hitting his head on the ground after a slip and fall. Since you infer an interest in science, there is no scientific evidence that indicates that any reduced carbohydrate diet is detrimental to any organ in any mammalian body. Since only animal protein provides all of the essential amino acids, it would be a diet lacking in essential amino acids that would deprive the body of the resources required to repair damage to any animal’s organs.

  • Don’t you suppose that I would have looked for that if I gave a damn?

    • Vierotchka

      Whatever…

  • The Atkin’s diet wasn’t close enough to carbohydrate-free to be ketogenic for most people. If you look at the products being marketed under his name, you will find that they mostly lack high glycemic carbohydrates, not all. There are several stages in the Atkin diet because not all dieters get the same response from all of the stages, and the body has to be directed into some of the most successful stages.

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