It’s no secret the ketogenic diet can have numerous benefits for a range of chronic health conditions beyond diabetes and epilepsy. The science is mounting, and people with success stories are shouting from the rooftops that this way of eating can be positively life-changing. Evidence from case studies, animal research, and human-controlled studies are promising.
From lowering inflammation to lowering blood sugar and insulin levels, going keto means so much more than ditching heavy carbs! Let’s discuss eight health conditions that might benefit from a ketogenic diet.
Epilepsy is a disease involving seizures and excessive activity in the brain. While some people respond to anti-seizure medications, others choose not to, can’t tolerate the side effects, or don’t respond to the drugs, leaving them searching for other options. Epilepsy has the most research supporting it, with several dozen studies on the topic.
Research reveals seizures usually improve in around 50% of epilepsy patients following a classic ketogenic diet [1,2,3]. Researchers analyzed brain activity of children with epilepsy and discovered improvements in numerous brain patterns in 65% of those on a ketogenic diet. This was regardless of whether they had fewer seizures .
Check out these inspiring epilepsy success stories here at Ketogenic.com:
2. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder often resulting in infertility and irregular menstruation. Women with PCOS tend to have symptoms related to higher testosterone levels, such as acne. Among the anecdotal evidence online, you can also find published studies confirming the benefits of the ketogenic and low-carb diets for PCOS .
One 6-month study of eleven women with PCOS on a ketogenic diet showed an average weight loss of 12%. Reproductive hormone levels improved, and fasting insulin declined by 54%. Two women suffering from infertility actually got pregnant .
One of the most common benefits of starting the ketogenic diet is improved blood glucose levels; this is why going keto is popular among type 2 diabetics.
People with diabetes frequently report impressive reductions in blood sugar levels when going keto! This can be seen in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Dozens of controlled studies show a very low-carb diet helps regulate blood sugar and provide other health benefits [7,8].
For example, in one 16-week study, 17 of 21 people on a ketogenic diet could stop or reduce their dosage of diabetes medication. Participants also lost 19 pounds on average and decreased blood pressure, triglycerides, and waist size. It’s clear the ketogenic diet shows promise for diabetes .
4. Some Cancers
Cancer is one of the heaviest words to hear, say, or carry. Fortunately, scientific research suggests a ketogenic diet might help some types of cancer when used along with traditional treatments like radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery .
Researchers point out the association between obesity, elevated blood sugar, type 2 diabetes, and cancers like breast cancer. Many experts and researchers recommend restricting carbs to lower insulin and blood sugar levels, which may reduce or even prevent tumor growth [11,12].
Some experts believe the ketogenic diet has the largest benefits for brain cancer, and case studies and patient data analyses have shown promise for brain cancers like glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) – the most aggressive and common type of brain cancer [15,16].
Be inspired by some of the cancer success stories here at Ketogenic.com:
The keto diet can even be effective for dogs with cancer! Check out Blazer’s story for more info on the keto diet and cancer in beloved pups!
When you think about the health benefits of following the ketogenic diet, you probably think of improved glucose levels or reduced body fat, but going keto has actually been shown to be beneficial for psychological and developmental disorders too!
The hallmark symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are problems with communication, social interaction, and repetitive behaviors. Autism is often diagnosed in childhood and treated with speech therapy and other therapies. Animal research suggests ketogenic diets might be useful for improving ASD behavior patterns [17,18,19].
One study of 30 children with autism found that 18 children experienced a reduction in symptoms after following a cyclical ketogenic diet for 6 months .
Read some of the success stories on autism and the keto diet here at Ketogenic.com:
What Benefits Has the Ketogenic Diet Brought You?
Do you use the keto diet for a specific health condition? Comment below and share your story and successes!
1. Kossoff, E. H., & Wang, H-S. (2013). Dietary therapies for epilepsy. Biomed J, 36(1), 2-8. DOI: 10.4103/2319-4170.107152
2. Neal, E. G., Chaffe, H., Schwartz, R. H., Lawson, M. S., Edwards, N., Fitzsimmons, G., Whitney, A., & Cross, J. H. (2008). The ketogenic diet for the treatment of childhood epilepsy: A randomized controlled trial. Lancet Neurol, 7(6), 500-506. DOI: 10.1016/S1474-4422(08)70092-9
3. Li, H-F., Zou, Y., & Ding, G. (2013). Therapeutic success of the ketogenic diet as a treatment option for epilepsy: A meta-analysis. Iran J Pediatr, 23(6), 613-620.
4. Remahl, S., Dahlin, M. G., & Amark, P. E. (2008). Influence of the ketogenic diet on 24-hour electroencephalogram in children with epilepsy. Pediatric Neurol, 38(1), 38-43. DOI: 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2007.09.002
5. 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), 590-593. DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2007.03.222
6. 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 (London), DOI: 10.1186/1743-7075-2-35
7. Farres, J., Pujol, A., Coma, M., Ruiz, J. L., Naval, J., Mas, J. M., Molins, A., Fondevila, J., & Aloy, P. (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 (London), DOI: 10.1186/1743-7075-7-88
8. 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), 1016-1021. DOI: 10.1016/j.nut.2012.01.016
9. 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 (London), DOI: 10.1186/1743-7075-2-34
10. Allen, B. G., Bhatia, S. K., Anderson, C. M,. Eichenberger-Gilmore, J. M., Sibenaller, Z. A., Mapuskar, K. A., Schoenfeld, J. D., Buatti, J. M., Spitz, D. R., & Fath, M. A. (2014). Ketogenic diets as an adjuvant cancer therapy: History and potential mechanism. Redox Biol, DOI: 10.1016/j.redox.2014.08.002
11. Klement, R. J., & Kammerer, U. (2011). Is there a role for carbohydrate restriction in the treatment and prevention of cancer? Nutr Metab (London), DOI: 10.1186/1743-7075-8-75
12. Gluschnaider, U., Hertz, R., Ohayon, S., Smeir, E., Smets, M., Pikarsky, E., & Bar-Tana, J. (2014). Long-chain fatty acid analogues suppress breast tumorigenesis and progression. Cancer Res, 74(23), 6991-7002. DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-14-0385
13. Klement, R. J., Champ, C. E., Otto, C., & Kammerer, U. (2016). Anti-tumor effects of ketogenic diets in mice: A meta-analysis. PLoS One, 11(5), e0155050. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155050
14. Poff, A. M., Ari, C., Seyfried, T. N., & D’Agostino, D. P. (2013). The ketogenic diet and hyperbaric oxygen therapy prolong survival in mice with systemic metastatic cancer. PLoS One, 8(6), e65522. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065522
15. Varshneya, K., Carico, C., Ortega, A., & Patil, C. G. (2015). The efficacy of ketogenic diet and associated hypoglycemia as an adjuvant therapy for high-grade gliomas: A review of the literature. Cure, 7(2), e251. DOI: 10.7759/cureus.251
16. Nebeling, L. C., Miraldi, F., Shurin, S. B., & Lerner, E. (1995). Effects of a ketogenic diet on tumor metabolism and nutritional status in pediatric oncology patients: Two case reports. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 14(2), 202-208. DOI: 10.1080/07315724.1995.10718495
17. Mychasiuk, R., & Rho, J. M. (2017). Genetic modifications associated with ketogenic diet treatment in the BTBR T+Tf/J mouse model of autism spectrum disorder. Autism Res, 10(3), 456-471. DOI: 10.1002/aur.1682
18. Verpeut, J. L., DiCicco-Bloom, E., & Bello, N. T. (2016). Ketogenic diet exposure during the juvenile period increases social behaviors and forebrain neural activation in adult Engrailed 2 null mice. Physiol Behav, DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.04.001
19. Ahn, Y., Narous, M., Tobias, R., Rho, J. M., & Mychasiuk, R. (2014). The ketogenic diet modifies social and metabolic alterations identified in the prenatal valproic acid model of autism spectrum disorder. Dev Neurosci, 36(5), 371-380. DOI: 10.1159/000362645
20. Evangeliou, A., Vlachonikolis, I., Mihailidou, H., Spiloti, M., Skarpalezou, A., Makaronas, N., Prokopiou, A., Christodoulou, P., Liapi-Adamidou, G., Helidonis, E., Sbyrakis, S., & Smeitink, J. (2003). Application of a ketogenic diet in children with autistic behavior: A pilot study. Journal of Child Neurology, 18(2), 113-118. DOI: 10.1177/08830738030180020501
Steph Green is a writer, researcher, and singer/songwriter with a passion for all things wellness. In 2016, after four years of struggling with her own health problems and painful autoimmune disease, Steph developed a life-changing and extensive knowledge of keto, nutrition, and natural medicine. She continues on her healing journey and enjoys helping others along the way.