Could A Keto Diet Help Reverse Chronic Illness?

Here at the Oldish we’ve researched many articles about good nutrition and how food can help patients recover from illness better or prevent disease but could diet also reverse some of the most prevalent chronic conditions in today’s culture?  Frustrated and ready to make a meaningful change in the way they eat, many adults are throwing everything they’ve been taught about healthy nutrition out the window in favor of a more ancestral, high fat and low carbohydrate diet.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of American adults are obese and related conditions including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers are the leading causes of preventable death.  Recent research has also shown that people who have a high body mass index (BMI) are more likely to develop dementia later in life. 

All research points to the fact that our modern society, with all it’s processed and convenient food, is making us sick; rates of obesity, heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes are staggering.  Sick and tired of being sick and tired, patients are increasingly asking their doctors about the benefits of a ketogenic diet.  Used for nearly 100 years, the keto diet was originally created to treat epileptic children.  The diet turns our traditional food pyramid on it’s head, prescribing a diet high in healthy fats, proteins and vegetables with very limited carbohydrates or added sugars.

Instead of using blood sugar derived from carbs, a keto diet forces the body to use stored fat for energy, a process called ketosis that usually occurs over two to four days of limiting carbs to 20 to 50 grams each day.   Besides encouraging weight loss and controlling seizures, the keto diet has been demonstrated to improve blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes.   It can however cause patients with kidney disease to worsen.  No change in diet should be made without first consulting a doctor.  Some people may also suffer fatigue, nausea, constipation or have trouble sleeping initially. 

According to research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet may help control hunger and improve “fat oxidative metabolism” to help obese patients reduce body weight.  Under a doctor’s supervision, with close attention paid to the patient’s renal function, the keto diet could be a useful tool to treat obesity and related disorders including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some types of cancers. 

Although long-term research is not yet available on the diet’s effect on blood cholesterol levels,  some studies have shown that while cholesterol may rise in the beginning of the diet among some patients, it falls again a few months later. 

A typical ketogenic diet includes plenty of grass-fed meats, eggs, hard cheeses, fish, nuts, butter, oils (olive, coconut, walnut, avocado) seeds and fibrous vegetables.  It can be hard to follow, especially when the typical American diet is comprised of 50 per cent carbohydrates or more.  If the keto diet is too radical, by making changes that move away from processed foods, wheat and sugars and includes more fruits and richly colored vegetables, lean meats, fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil and whole grains (if any) along with plenty of water, people can improve their health in a way that can be sustained over the long-term.

To learn more about insulin resistance and a ketogenic diet, check out Dr. Jason Fung’s book The Obesity Code:  Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss or give a listen to The Obesity Code Podcast.