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Surprising Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet is a high fat and low carbohydrate diet that can put your body in a state of ketosis. Ketosis is a normal response to starvation, specifically carbohydrate starvation, where your body and liver start to rapidly burn fats called ketones, which can be healthier and more efficient than burning sugars. Results vary because ketosis can sometimes result in brain damage and in dangerous weight loss, but if you do it right, the keto diet can often cause you to lose weight in a reasonably healthy way. However, you can also experience a number of additional benefits that you probably didn’t know about.

It prevents seizures.

The origins of the keto diet actually has to do with epilepsy treatment. New studies on mice show that that the keto diet alters the bacteria in your gut so that they can prevent seizures. These bacterial changes influence your blood in a way that alters certain neurotransmitter signals in your brain. The neurotransmitter alterations can work to prevent seizures. The keto diet does not simply cause the bacteria in your gut to behave differently. It also increases the amount of certain types of gut bacteria. When scientists gave these types of bacteria to mice who were not on the keto diet, the mice still experienced the same benefits as mice who were on the keto diet.

It is good for you kidneys.

doctor holding a kidney modelDiabetic nephropathy is a kidney problem that occurs when the cells and blood vessels around your kidneys do not function properly due to diabetes. It causes blood pressure problems, urination problems, swelling of your feet, swelling of your hands, swelling of your eyes, decreased need for insulin, confusion, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, itchiness, and fatigue. It can ultimately result in kidney disease. Insulin and certain low protein content diets can delay the development of diabetic nephropathy, but the keto diet can actually work to reverse diabetic nephropathy. The mechanisms behind why the keto diet works has to do with a certain type of ketone called 3-beta-hydroxybutyric acid. This ketone reverses some diabetic processes, which means that the ketogenic diet can elevate your levels of 3-beta-hydroxybutyric acid in order to reverse diabetic nephropathy.

It suppresses alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

If you have any kind of addiction, the process of reducing your intake of the addictive substance can cause you to experience withdrawal symptoms. When it comes to alcohol withdrawal, symptoms include anxiety, shakiness, headache, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, sweating, hallucinations, seizures, delusions, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, and fever. Alcohol addiction reduces glucose metabolism in your brain, which causes your brain to try to metabolize certain types of fats for energy instead. Many withdrawal symptoms result from your brain’s attempt to replace this fat metabolism with glucose metabolism. Preclinical trials suggest that the keto diet might be able to treat alcohol withdrawal because the diet allows you brain to continue metabolizing fats, specifically ketones. Prior to reducing alcohol intake, your brain would metabolizing fats that are not necessarily ketones; however, it is easier to replace these fats with ketones than it is to replace these fats with sugars.

It can improve your health if you have cancer.

Tumors thrive on carbohydrates, so by depleting the amount of carbohydrates you have in your body, it can slow down tumor growth a little bit. Any low carbohydrate diet will be healthier for cancer patients; however, the keto diet should work better than a simple low carbohydrate diet because it starves your body of carbohydrates. Studies have shown that cancer patients on the keto diet experienced improved emotional wellbeing and decreased insomnia. Very few cancer symptoms seemed to worsen as a result of the diet except for fatigue and constipation. Since tumors can survive using other sources of energy, the keto diet only makes a small difference, but reports show that overall quality of life significantly increases in cancer patients who decided to try the keto diet.

It can decrease your anxiety.

ketogenic diet foodWhen you are on the keto diet, you have increased levels of acetoacetate. Acetoacetate is a type of ketone that decomposes acetone, a necessary compound for metabolism. To prevent too much acetone loss, your liver will convert acetone into beta-hydroxybutyrate, a chemical compound that does not degenerate in the presence of acetoacetate. Beta-hydroxybutyrate is very similar to gamma-hydroxybutyrate, which is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for generating feelings of euphoria by reducing anxiety. Gamma-hydroxybutyrate, therefore, is often present in many recreational drugs. Beta-hydroxybutyrate can have the same anxiety-reducing effects without the use of recreational drugs.

It prevents inflammation.

The process of metabolizing sugars usually increases inflammation in your body by activating immune system receptors known as inflammasomes. Inflammasomes usually only react to toxins and pathogens, but glucose causes it to activate as well, which causes inflammation. While inflammation is normally a healthy immune response that helps you fight off diseases, too much of this inflammation can result in a number of health concerns, including stroke, heart attack, kidney problems, shortness of breath, fever, high blood pressure, joint problems, headaches, fatigue, chronic pain, appetite changes, muscle stiffness, dementia, and cancer. Carbohydrate reduction will definitely help you prevent inflammation. However, the keto diet seems to work better than a simple low carb diet because ketones can actually work to block inflammasome activation.

The keto diet can certainly help you with losing a couple of pounds, which can have plenty of health benefits, including diabetes prevention, obesity prevention, cancer prevention, arthritis prevention, increased energy, a healthier heart, a healthier brain, decreased joint pain, decreased back pain, better sleep, better sex, and better mood. However, significant carbohydrate reduction does more than simply help you with losing some weight. After all, sugars have a very wide range of negative health effects, while ketones seem to have a wide range of positive health effects. Dieting can always help you with being healthier, but if you want to see an extensive range of health benefits, then you might want to consider trying out the keto diet.