This is to all the moms with children who struggle with headaches, epilepsy, mental health difficulties, and/or obesity. What do these things have in common? Read on, and you’ll see!
If you’re a savvy mom (which you must be to have found this resourceful website), you’re probably always researching the latest and greatest to help you and your kiddos with your health. So, you may have already run across the Keto Diet. It’s one of the latest diet trends, and there are a lot of myths about it on social media and at large. This article debunks some of those myths and tells a little about the diet’s history – for example, the keto diet has been used since the 1920’s to treat epilepsy in children. Now, nearly 100 years later, psychiatrists are using it to treat diagnoses such as depression and bipolar disorder, and doctors and nutritionists are using it to treat obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high serum triglycerides, and several other diseases.
Ketosis is described as a metabolic condition in the human body whereby the body utilizes fat as the primary source of fuel rather than Carbohydrates (CHO) (Dashti, et al., 2004). It has been shown to assist with: sports performance, weight loss, epileptic seizures in children, systemic inflammation, and depression among others (Cox et. al, 2016; Dashti, et al., 2004; Ede, 2017). This is due to the metabolic switch from utilizing CHO to fats as the primary fuel source and the fat bi-products known as ketone bodies (Cox et. al, 2016; Dashti et al., 2004). These are acetoacetate and acetone. Acetoacetate is utilized by the body to be converted to betahydroxybuterate (BHB). BHB then becomes the bodies primary source of fuel in a ketogenic state versus glucose (Volek et al. 2008).
Although there has been a recent resurgence of the ketogenic diet recently, it has been utilized for treatment of epileptic seizures in children starting as early as the 1920’s (Freeman, Kossoff, & Hartman, 2007; Roehl, & Sewak, 2017). So, the truth is, the ketogenic diet has been around longer than this current fad.
I have been in a ketogenic state for about a year and a half now, consuming 25-30g of Carbohydrate daily (CHO) and have seen favorable results with utilizing it for a medical condition.
One of the main things it’s being used for today is weight loss. However, not only has research shown ketogenic diets being effective for epileptic seizures, it can help with symptoms of metabolic syndrome, a serious health condition. Metabolic syndrome is comprised of the following group of risk factors (American Heart Association, 2015):
- High blood glucose (sugar)
- Low levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol in the blood
- High levels of triglycerides in the blood
- Large waist circumference or “apple-shaped” body
- High blood pressure
In a ketogenic state, the body is only intaking 25-30 g of CHO, so there is very little need for the human body to release insulin, a hormone released by the body to allow it to use sugar (glucose) from CHO as fuel. Remember, the human body is now mainly fueled by ketones. So, this state creates a more steady, constant blood sugar (glucose) level in the body (Volek et al, 2016).
Ketosis is shown to improve and increase HDL. This is the “good” cholesterol and its role is to transport cholesterol from the cells and tissue back to the liver. It takes cholesterol out of the cells and the blood, therefore helping prevent excess cholesterol. A study done by Volek and colleagues in 2008 for 12 weeks were 40 overweight men and women were placed in two groups. One group was placed on a low-fat diet, the other group was placed on a high fat diet. The group with the high fat diet indicated greater decrease in blood lipid levels. This was attributed to improved glycemic control and insulin sensitivity.
Ketogenic diets can positively impact high levels of triglycerides in the body because the human body can only store so much glucose and CHO. Through a process called lipogenesis and subsequent triglyceride synthesis, excess glucose can be stored by the body in the form of fats. If the body is not consuming excess glucose, as is the case in ketosis, the body no longer has the need to convert and store it in the form of triglycerides (Volek et al, 2008).
As for abdominal fat, it is referred to as visceral fat and is known to be risky because of many of the vital organs located in the abdominal region. By monitoring blood sugar levels and decreasing the insulin releases needed by the body, and keeping blood sugar levels constant, the body can remain in a steady blood glucose state (Whitney & Rolfes, 2013). Elevated blood glucose has been associated with increased abdominal fat due to something called insulin resistance. This is when insulin doesn’t work as well, so your body keeps making more and more of it to cope with the rising level of glucose. Eventually, this can lead to diabetes. Insulin resistance is closely connected to having excess weight in the belly.
Research is now showing Ketogenic diets help with hypertension and the reasoning is attributed to general weightloss that occurs when in a ketogenic state. This is an area that needs more study as found by Yancy and Colleagues, 2010.
So to sum up, even though keto is now the latest craze for a quick weight loss solution, it’s been around since the 1920’s, being used to treat children with epilepsy. It’s also been shown to help with metabolic syndrome. I’ve used it with success too. In article published by Psychology Today in 2017, Dr. Georgia Ede states, “Ketogenic diets have been around for about 100 years, and have proved to be invaluable tools in the treatment of stubborn neurological conditions, most notably epilepsy. They have also shown promise in the management of other brain-based disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, ALS, Traumatic Brain Injury, Multiple Sclerosis, and chronic headaches, as well as in metabolic disorders like obesity, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.”
About the Author:
I am “ShayTheCoach” and have founded a company as a result of my passion to help others become the best version of “SELF.” I am a teaching professional, speaker, author and coach. My background includes Personal Fitness Training, Corrective Exercise, Nutritional Coaching, Cranial Sacral Work and teaching Karate & Tai Chi classes.
I have a strong Psychology background and believe the best knowledge and experience comes from studying and teaching! So, I enriched my Psychology degrees with the study of scientific research and gained certifications to widen my scope. Doing this provided credible learning opportunities that share how intimately connected the mind and body are!
If you would like to learn more about the mind-body connection, have personal fitness or nutrition goals, and/or would like Cranial Sacral Work to deepen your connection with your body, I would love to help you! Email: [email protected]
For more info on ketosis with Shay, check out her presentation on our video page!
American Heart Association 2015 Answers by Heart Cardiovascular Conditions Retrieved December 1st, 2017 from http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@hcm/documents/downloadable/ucm_300322.pdf
Cox, et al. (2016). Clinical and Translational Report: Nutritional Ketosis Alters Fuel Preference and Thereby Endurance Performance in Athletes. In Cell Metabolism, 24(2), 256-268.
Dashti, H.M., Mathew, T.C., et al. (2004). Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients. Clinical Cardiology, 9(3), 200-2005.
Freeman JM, Kossoff EH, Hartman AL (Mar 2007). “The ketogenic diet: one decade
later”. Pediatrics. 119 (3): 535–43.
Roehl, K. & Sewak, S.L. (2017). Practice Paper of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
Classic and Modified Ketogenic Diets for Treatment of Epilepsy. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, 117(8), 1279-1292.
Volek, J.S., Fernandez, M.L., Feinman, R.D., & Phinney SD. (2008). Dietary carbohydrate restriction induces a unique metabolic state positively affecting atherogenic dyslipidemia, fatty acid partitioning, and metabolic syndrome. Progress in Lipid Research, 47(5), 307-308.
Volek, J.S., et. al (2016) Clinical Science: Metabolic characteristics of keto-adapted ultra-endurance runners. In Metabolism 65(3),100-110.
Whitney, E., & Rolfes, S.R. (2013). Understanding Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.