For the last 40 years, this country has seen an increase in obesity and chronic illness as never before in history. Now we know that this is heavily due to changes in dietary recommendations which were pushed through in the 1970’s which portrayed fat as a dietary evil to be avoided at all costs. This left a significant void in calories and substance in the American diet which was supplanted by an increase in grains and other carbohydrates. The result has been a tremendous increase in the amount of carbohydrates in the American diet with an explosion of insulin resistance, weight gain, fatigue, stress and brain fog, as well as skyrocketing incidences of diabetes, heart disease, depression, and dementia.
It turns out that all of those carbs were not as healthy as they were touted to be. Having a diet based on carbohydrates as the main source of macronutrients forces the body to produce higher and higher levels of insulin, leading to insulin resistance. Increased levels of blood sugar resulting from a high-carb diet also directly increases the inflammatory processes of the body and depletes vital vitamins and minerals in trying to protect the tissues of the body from this inflammation. Interestingly, fats were not found to be the cause of heart disease, but instead it was this inflammation caused by sugars and refined carbohydrates.
One very powerful tool available to reverse insulin resistance is the ketogenic diet. In this food plan, most of a person’s calories come from healthy fats (like avocado, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, fatty fish, egg yolks) and carbohydrates are kept to a minimum – less than 50g or even as low as 25g per day. Protein intake is determined by your body weight and energy requirements. When a person follows a ketogenic diet, their body stops using glucose (sugar) as its primary source of energy, and instead switches to burning fat for energy. Not only does it burn the fat taken in at meals, but it increases the body’s own ability to burn its stored fat so that a person becomes leaner while maintaining their muscle mass.
A ketogenic diet is also a valuable tool because it has been shown to decrease inflammation, grow new brain cells and nerve cells, stabilize hormone levels, and improve mood and cognitive functioning. And if you think about the cycles of nature, before modern refrigeration and global shipping, humans did not have access to a large amount of carbohydrates except for a few months of the year when fruits and other plants were in season. During those months, eating high-carbohydrate and high-starch foods would actually help a person put on weight that they would then burn during the lean winter months. A cyclical ketogenic diet is closer to the way that our bodies are accustomed to functioning.
Ketogenic diets have been found to be tremendously valuable in protecting the nervous system. Currently, they are used for patients with seizures, dementia, Parkinson’s, depression, fertility issues, and anxiety. Depending on the severity of their symptoms, a person may need to remain in ketosis for an extended period of time, while other people may have benefit cycling on and off of a ketogenic diet to a low-carb diet.
There are certain parameters that one must follow to follow the ketogenic diet in a healthy way. First, it is not a free ticket to eat as much animal fat and protein as you like. The diet must include a variety of non-starchy vegetables, fiber, plant-based fats, and plenty of hydration. Trans-fats such as those found in many processed foods and many restaurant-based meals will be more harmful than helpful. Finally, if a person is diabetic, a low-carb diet can help them reverse their illness. But they should not attempt a ketogenic diet unless under close supervision of a physician because they have an increased risk of falling into ketogenic acidosis.
To learn more about a ketogenic diet and how it can help you heal, please book a consultation with me.