It’s funny how some of these trends start, but the latest diet trend (keto) was actually developed over a century ago to relieve epilepsy.
Now it’s being utilized to carve out beautiful physiques in our overly-superficial society. To be clear, I’m one of those people who care about what their body looks like, I just think there needs to be a better balance (less obsession) implemented on the whole.
The other side to the keto diet (short for “ketogenic” diet) is the athletic performance piece, but we are also starting to uncover other far reaching health benefits as well.
For instance, recent research suggests that keto diets help control glucose, triglycerides, insulin, and body weight in people with diabetes. The research below shows the ketogenic diet may be an effective tool you can use to manage symptoms of Diabetes, alongside exercise and medication.
What Is a Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then circulated around in the bloodstream.
Because there is virtually no carbohydrates in the diet, the liver is trained to convert fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The end result is that the ketone bodies replace glucose as the primary energy source.
Keto Diets and Diabetes
Because ketogenic diets are usually high in saturated fats, many people suspect that they are unhealthy. The research shows that very-low carbohydrate diets are actually beneficial for overweight and obese people who suffer from type II diabetes.
However, how do ketogenic diets affect the risk of type II diabetes in healthy subjects?
To investigate this further, researchers recruited 83 nondiabetic subjects with an average age of 48 and BMI of 33. They randomly divided them in one of three equal-calorie diets for 8 weeks. The first one, called the Very Low-Fat diet (VLD) consisted of 70% carbohydrates, 10% fat, and 20% protein.
The second diet, called the high unsaturated fat diet (HUF) consisted of 50% carbohydrates, 30% fat, and 20% proteins.
In this diet, the bulk of the fat calories (about 90%) were from unsaturated fats. The third diet, called the very low carbohydrate diets (VLCARB), consisted of 4% carbohydrates, 61% fat, and 20% proteins.
About 20% of the fats in this diet was saturated. All subjects also participated in a weight-loss exercise regimen and support from dieticians. Additionally, at the end of the eight weeks, all subjects underwent the same “weight-maintenance” diet and exercise regimen for four weeks.
At the end of this 12-week study, scientists observed a similar loss in body fat and overall body weight in all three diets. However, they noted that the VLCARB ketogenic diet was “more effective in improving tracylglycerols, HDL cholesterol, fasting and post-meal glucose and insulin concentrations.
More specifically, triacylglycerols decreased by 39.9% in VLCARB subjects, 4.0% in VLF subjects, and 9.6% in HUF subjects.
Insulin levels decreased by 33.6% in VLCARB subjects, decreased by 18.7 % in HUF subjects, and actually increased by 15.1 % in VLD subjects.
The Ketogenic Diet Starves Cancer
Otto Warburg was a leading cell biologist who led to the discovery that cancer cells are unable to flourish using energy produced from cellular respiration, but instead from glucose fermentation.
Dr. Thomas Seyfried and other cancer researchers agree and have further discovered that cancer cells are also fueled from the fermentation of the amino acid glutamine.
With ketogenic diets, lowering carbohydrates will reduce your levels of glucose, the fuel that feeds cancer cells. This will put your body into ketosis and will assist in depleting cancer cells of their energy supply.
Cancer cells are unlike normal cells in many ways, but one of their traits that are most unique regards insulin receptors. They have ten times more insulin receptors on their cellular surface.
This enables cancer cells to gorge themselves in glucose and nutrients coming from the bloodstream at a very high rate. As you continue to consume glucose as your primary diet source, cancer cells will continue to thrive and spread.
It is no surprise that the lowest survival rate in cancer patients is among those with the highest blood sugar levels.
Cancer cells have damaged mitochondria and lack the ability to create energy from aerobic respiration. They cannot metabolize fatty acids for energy. For this reason, cancer cells thrive in oxygen-depleted environments.
Instead, cancer cells metabolize glucose and amino acids. Restricting glucose or the amino acid glutamine is essential to starve cancer.