Let’s face it, the number one reason people go on a ketogenic diet is weight loss. It works. It puts your body into a fat burning state called ketosis, where you burn fat for fuel. But, many people are nicely surprised find that they experience OTHER benefits as a result of this way of life.
1. Brain Health (reduction of brain fog)
I can’t say that I suffered from brain fog before I had cancer, but I certainly had it during and after chemo. Once, I was trying to deliver something to a business in my little town of Canton and I got lost. I drove around for about 15 minutes and called my husband crying. I was lost in Canton! I had a horrible case of chemo brain. It would come and go and it was very frustrating. While in ketosis, people (including myself!) report an increase in concentration and mental sharpness. I know I think more clearly. It also works as a mood elevator. A ketogenic diet has been studied extensively in epileptic children. This is a common neurological problem that causes unpredictable seizures. Studies show that half of all patients will experience at least a 50% reduction in the frequency of their seizures on a ketogenic diet.
2. Helps Prevent and Reverse Type II Diabetes
A keto diet reduces blood glucose levels and subsequent insulin release. Carbs cause a quick rise and fall in blood glucose. Refined carbs have an even quicker insulin response. Frequent blood sugar swings will also spike your hunger hormone, which can leads to overeating. We tend to crave carbs after we eat carbs. I know that I certainly crave carbs after I eat a non-ketogenic meal. It is a vicious cycle!
3. Increased and Sustained Energy
Do you ever eat a candy bar and get a rush of energy? How do you feel an hour later? Sluggish? I know I do! Energy that is derived from carbs comes quickly, but it goes quickly, too. Fat is a much better energy source. I know that many athletes think that they NEED carbs to be able to perform, but it just isn’t true, once you are fat adapted. I will write about fat adaptation for my next post!
4. Reduces Risk Factors for Heart Disease
Cardiovascular disorders (heart attacks, stroke, coronary artery disease) are a leading cause of death. A ketogenic diet can reduce many of the risk factors for these. A few of the risk factors are high blood pressure, diabetes, inflammation, high blood cholesterol. We used to think that a high fat diet increased our risk factors for this disease, but that isn’t the case. Fat is essential for cardiovascular health. However, the type of fat is key! Omega-3 fatty acids and other polyunsaturated fat are very good for you. However, trans fats raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol and are bad for heart health.
5. Cancer Prevention and Cancer Fighter
As a breast cancer survivor, this is the #1 reason that I switched to a ketogenic diet. Will my ketogenic diet CURE cancer? No, it will not, but it CAN help in the fight! Being in a state of ketosis starves cancer cells, which thrive on glucose. Can they survive without glucose? Yes, but the cancer cells have to work extra hard to spread. Running your body on ketones, as opposed to glucose, deprives the cancer cells of their preferred choice of fuel. Also, as stated above, being in a ketogenic state reduces inflammation, which is also linked to cancer. Like I said, it will not stop my cancer from coming back, but I want to do everything I can, in my power, to discourage it from coming back. I know that it may. I also know that there are many risk factors and susceptibilities in our bodies that we can’t change, but my diet is one that I CAN control. Do I eat a healthy keto diet every single day? No, I do not. I am not obsessive about it, but I do TRY to eat keto most days. Why wouldn’t I?
There, of course, are a lot more in depth reports/studies on these findings, but this is a quick “cliff notes” version. I continue to read and study this and I find the subject fascinating. Next up.....fat adaptation!