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8 Health Conditions That Keto Can Improve

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FACT CHECKED
  Published on September 19th, 2022
  Reading time: 6 minutes
  Last modified September 12th, 2022
Keto foods that can improve many health conditions

You’ve heard someone somewhere bragging about how going keto changed their lives and improved this or that condition. Maybe they used a ketogenic diet as an adjunct treatment for Alzheimer’s, glycogen storage disease, Parkinson’s disease, or traumatic brain injury. Maybe they trimmed their waistline and shed excess pounds, and they’ve never looked or felt better. There’s truth, validity, and science behind these statements and not just hype and yet another fad diet. When you follow a ketogenic diet, your metabolism shifts into the natural state of ketosis and you reap the benefits. Let’s look at some of the health conditions that keto can improve.

1. Diabetes

Numerous controlled studies revealed a very low-carb diet helps regulate blood sugar levels and might provide other health benefits. People with diabetes often significantly reduce blood sugar levels on a ketogenic diet (including both type 1 and type 2 diabetes) [1] [2].

A 16-week study concluded that 17 of 21 people eating a ketogenic diet could discontinue or decrease the dosage of their diabetes medication. On average, participants lost 19 pounds and reduced blood pressure, triglycerides, and waist size [3].

High blood sugar levels are associated with chronic diseases and metabolic syndrome. When you reduce your intake of sugar and carbohydrates, you’re not spiking your blood sugar, and you’re stepping off the blood sugar rollercoaster. What goes up must come down. If you prevent these carbohydrate spikes and crashes on keto, you can better manage your blood sugar.

Read Oscar’s inspirational story of how he went keto to hack his type 2 diabetes.

2. Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a condition involving seizures due to excessive brain activity. While some people respond to anti-seizure medications, others don’t, or they experience side effects. Epilepsy is one of the conditions that’s been studied the most when it comes to ketogenic diets.

Studies show seizures usually improve in about half of epilepsy patients on a classic ketogenic diet. These studies involved a 4:1 ketogenic diet with about four times as much fat as protein and carbs [4] [5].

Epilepsy on keto

When researchers looked at the brain activity of children with epilepsy, they observed improvements in different brain patterns in 65% of those on keto [6].

Check out Cody’s story here at Ketogenic.com and find out how he used a ketogenic diet to treat his epilepsy.

3.  Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition where a woman experiences hormonal dysfunction typically resulting in symptoms like infertility and irregular periods. Insulin resistance, obesity, and difficulty losing weight often come along with PCOS. Women with PCOS tend to have increased facial hair, acne, and other signs relating to higher testosterone levels. They also have a heightened risk of developing type 2 diabetes [7].

Some studies confirm the benefits of ketogenic and low-carb diets for PCOS. You can also browse the internet and find anecdotal evidence and countless stories from women who found that ditching the sugar and carbs and welcoming in the healthy fats diminished their PCOS symptoms [8] [9]. Check out Lauren’s story and Jenny’s story at Ketogenic.com!

4. Some Cancers

Scientific research shows a ketogenic diet could help certain types of cancer when used along with traditional treatments like surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. This way of eating seems to be particularly promising for brain cancer [10] [11].

Animal studies reveal keto diets might reduce the progression of different types of cancer, including cancers that have spread to other areas of the body [12].

Obesity, type 2 diabetes, and elevated blood sugar are linked to some cancers, like breast cancer. Some researchers suggest restricting carbs, which lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, could help prevent tumor growth [13].

Nobel-prize winner Otto Warburg hypothesized that cancer cells had switched from the normal respiration of oxygen (aerobic) to the fermentation of sugar. Put simply, cancer cells couldn’t properly use oxygen, so they fermented sugar instead! Going keto means you ditch all that sugar, so cancer cells are unable to ferment it.

Studies on cancer and keto are ongoing. Obtaining randomized clinical studies would allow us to further examine how ketogenic diets affect cancer patients. You can find anecdotal evidence and plenty of stories online of people with cancer implementing a ketogenic way of eating with great success. Even dogs like Blazer are using keto to help overcome cancer.

5. Obesity

Obesity is prevalent in modern society, and it often goes along with the standard American (SAD) diet. It’s no secret that ketosis can be beneficial for weight loss, and many people have found success with keto after unsuccessful attempts at weight loss on other diets. Studies show very low-carb ketogenic diets are usually more effective for weight loss compared to low-fat or calorie-restricted diets [14] [15].

It’s not just the initial water weight; the metabolic state of ketosis is renowned for shifting the body into a fat-burning mode rather than a fat-storage mode. For example, in one 24-week study, men eating a ketogenic diet lost twice as much body fat compared to men following a low-fat diet [16].

Keto diets are also known to be satiating, and when you’re not constantly raiding the fridge, you’re more likely to lose that unwanted body fat. In addition to trimming your silhouette and shedding excess pounds, going keto frequently improves cholesterol and triglycerides.

Read Mary Daniels’ story of losing–and keeping off–more than 100 pounds on keto.

6. Autism

Autism and epilepsy share commonalities, and many people with autism have seizures related to the over-excitement of brain cells. The hallmark symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are problems with social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviors. Autism is usually diagnosed during childhood and treated with therapies like speech therapy.

Animal models of autism show ketogenic diets reduce brain cell overstimulation and benefit behavior no matter if there are changes in seizure activity [17].

In a pilot study of 30 autistic children following a cyclical ketogenic diet for six months, 18 of the children had symptom improvement [18].

Children and adults with autism often report dramatic improvements following a gluten-free, dairy-free ketogenic diet. Read Natasha’s story of using ketosis to improve autism.

7. Metabolic Syndrome

You have metabolic syndrome if you meet any three of the following criteria:

If you have metabolic syndrome, you have a dysfunctional metabolism and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other serious disorders associated with insulin resistance.

Taking blood pressure for metabolic syndrome

While a sugar-loaded standard American diet seems to fuel metabolic syndrome, a ketogenic diet may improve it and improve cholesterol and blood pressure, and blood sugar [19] [20].

8. Multiple Sclerosis

Over time, multiple sclerosis (MS) can lead to damage to the protective covering of the nerves (myelin sheath) in the brain. This results in communication issues between the body and brain and symptoms like numbness and difficulty with balance, memory, movement, and vision.

Animal studies of MS found a keto diet lowered inflammatory markers, which improved memory, learning, and physical function. Inflammation is a key driver of a plethora of chronic diseases, including inflammatory autoimmune diseases, and going keto has been shown to reduce inflammation! [21]

A controlled study of 48 people with MS showed drastic improvements in cholesterol, triglycerides, and quality of life scores in those who fasted or ate a ketogenic diet for several days [22].

MS seems to reduce the cells’ ability to use sugar for fuel. When you switch to ketosis, your body is able to use ketones as fuel instead of sugar. A 2015 review looked at the potential of ketogenic diets to aid cell repair and energy production in people with MS [23].

Dr. Terry Wahls is a notable doctor who suffered greatly from multiple sclerosis and turned her diet around with her own creation of a highly nutrient-dense therapeutic ketogenic diet. Dr. Wahls went from wheelchair-bound to bike-riding, and keto was a big part of her healing journey! 

Has keto improved your health condition or helped a loved one? Do you have a keto success story to share? Reach out to the supportive community here at Ketogenic.com!

References

1.

Farres, J., Pujol, A., Coma, M., Ruiz, J. L., Naval, J., Mas, J. M., Molins. A. (2010). Revealing the molecular relationship between type 2 diabetes and the metabolic changes induced by a very-low-carbohydrate low-fat ketogenic diet. Nutr Metab (Lond), DOI: 10.1186/1743-7075-7-88

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Hussain, T. A., Mathew, T. C., Dashti, A. A., Asfar, S., Al-Zaid, N., & Dashti, H. M. (2012). Effect of low-calorie versus low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet in type 2 diabetes. Nutrition, 28(10), 1016-21. DOI: 10.1016/j.nut.2012.01.016

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Yancy Jr., W. S., Foy, M., Chalecki, A. M., Vernon, M. C., & Westman, E. C. (2005). A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet to treat type 2 diabetes. Nutr Metab (Lond), DOI: 10.1186/1743-7075-2-34

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Kossoff, E. H., & Wang, H-S. (2013). Dietary therapies for epilepsy. Biomed J, 36(1), 2-8. DOI: 10.4103/2319-4170.107152

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Neal, E. G., Chaffe, H., Schwartz, R. H., Lawson, M. S., Edwards, N., Fitzsimmons, G… Cross, J. H. (2008). The ketogenic diet for the treatment of childhood epilepsy: A randomized controlled trial. Lancet Neurol, 7(6), 500-6. DOI: 10.1016/S1474-4422(08)70092-9

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Remahl, S., Dahlin, M. G., & Amark, P. E. (2008). Influence of the ketogenic diet on 24-hour electroencephalogram in children with epilepsy. Pediatr Neurol, 38(1), 38-43. DOI: 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2007.09.002

7.

Polak, K., Czyzyk, A., Simoncini, T., & Meczekalski, B. (2017). New markers of insulin resistance in polycystic ovary syndrome. J Endocrinol Invest, DOI: 10.1007/s40618-016-0523-8

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Galletly, C., Moran, L., Noakes, M., Clifton, P., Tomlinson, L., & Norman, R. (2007). Psychological benefits of a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet in obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A pilot study. Appetite, 49(3), 590-3. DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2007.03.222

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Mavropoulos, J. C., Yancy, W. S., Hepburn, J., & Westman, E. C. (2005). The effects of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet on the polycystic ovary syndrome: A pilot study. Nutr Metab (Lond), DOI: 10.1186/1743-7075-2-35

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Allen, B. G., Bhatia, S. K., Anderson, C. M., Eichenberger-Gilmore, J. M., Sibenaller, Z. A., Mapuskar, K. A…Fath, M. A. (2014). Ketogenic diets as an adjuvant to cancer therapy: History and potential mechanism. Redox Biol, DOI: 10.1016/j.redox.2014.08.002

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Klement, R, J., Champ, C. E., Otto, C., & Kammerer, U. (2016). Anti-tumor effects of ketogenic diets in mice: A meta-analysis. PLoS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155050

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Klement, R. J., & Kammerer, U. (2011). Is there a role for carbohydrate restriction in the treatment and prevention of cancer? Nutr Metab (Lond), DOI: 10.1186/1743-7075-8-75

14.

Moreno, B., Bellido, D., Sajoux, I., Goday, A., Saavedra, D., Crujeiras, A. B., & Casanueva, F. F. (2014). Comparison of a very low-calorie-ketogenic diet with a standard low-calorie diet in the treatment of obesity. Obesity, 47(3), 793-805. DOI: 10.1007/s12020-014-0192-3

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Partsalaki, I., Karvela, A., & Spiliotis, B. E. (2012). Metabolic impact of a ketogenic diet compared to a hypocaloric diet in obese children and adolescents. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab, DOI: 10.1515/jpem-2012-0131

16.

Yancy Jr, W. S., Olsen, M. K., Guyton, J. R., Bakst, R. P., & Westman, E. C. (2004). A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia: A randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med, 140(10), 769-77. DOI: 10.7326/0003-4819-140-10-200405180-00006

17.

Smith, J., Rho, J. M., & Teskey, G. C. (2016). Ketogenic diet restores aberrant cortical motor maps and excitation-to-inhibition imbalance in the BTBR mouse model of autism spectrum disorder. Behav Brain Res, DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2016.02.015

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Evangeliou, A., Vlachonikolis, I., Mihailidou, H., Spilioti, M., Skarpalezou, A., Makaronas, N…Smeitink, J. (2003). Application of a ketogenic diet in children with autistic behavior: Pilot Study. J Child Neurol, 18(2), 113-8. DOI: 10.1177/08830738030180020501

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Forsythe, C. E., Phinney, S. D., Fernandez, M. L., Quann, E. E., Wood, R. J., Bibus, D.M…Volek, J. S. (2008). Comparison of low fat and low carbohydrate diets on circulating fatty acid composition and markers of inflammation. Lipids, 43(1), 65-77. DOI: 10.1007/s11745-007-3132-7

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Brinkworth, G. D., Noakes, M., Buckley, J. D., Keogh, J. B., & Clifton, P. M. (2009). Long-term effects of a very-low-carbohydrate weight loss diet compared with an isocaloric low-fat diet after 12 mo. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.2008.27326

21.

Kim, D. Y., Hao, J., Liu, R., Turner, G., Shi, F-D., & Rho, J. M. (2012). Inflammation-mediated memory dysfunction and effects of a ketogenic diet in a murine model of multiple sclerosis. PLoS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035476

22.

Bock, M., Michalsen, A., & Friedemann, P. (2015). (PDF) Ketogenic diet and prolonged fasting improve health-related quality of life and lipid profiles in multiple sclerosis –A randomized controlled trial (2015). Retrieved September 12, 2022, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282323583_Ketogenic_diet_and_prolonged_fasting_improve_health-related_quality_of_life_and_lipid_profiles_in_multiple_sclerosis_-A_randomized_controlled_trial 

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Storoni, M., & Plant, G. T. (2015). The therapeutic potential of the ketogenic diet in treating progressive multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler Int, DOI: 10.1155/2015/681289

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