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There is never a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to diets or weight loss.

They all have their pro’s and con’s which very much depends on the individual person and what their aim is.  What’s their digestion like, liver function, gut microbiome, any food intolerances, mitochondrial health, existing diseases or metabolic dysfunction and what genes/enzymes are up-regulated or down-regulated?

Common Pitfalls When Following a Ketogenic Diet

 

There are many variables that can influence what effect certain diets will have on your health.  You have to find what works for you and better yet find a health practitioner that can look at your biochemistry and guide you through dietary recommendations that would serve your health at that time.  I use many different eating plans in my practice based on individual needs.

I did however think it was important to highlight some benefits around the ketogenic diet that may be ignored due to misinformation or indoctrined ideas from outdated teaching methods.  I give Alexandro Ferretti credit for introducing me to this many years ago.

 

DO KETOGENIC DIETS RAISE CHOLESTEROL LEVELS?

 

This is a common concern for those who want to embark on the ketogenic diet but still believe that fat makes you fat, or how fat increases your risk for heart disease.

I suggest you read the post Metabolic Syndrome and Fatty Liver to see how the liver can manufacture two very harmful fatty acids called palmitic and palmitoleic acid (saturated fats) from glucose and carbohydrates.

Yes, not from fat, but from carbohydrates.

Studies have shown that by increasing carbohydrates and decreasing fats in the diet whilst maintaining the same amount of protein, more of these fatty acids are produced whereas the opposite is true when dietary fats (including saturated fats) are increased and carbohydrates are decreased.

 

KETOGENIC DIETS IN FACT REDUCE BLOOD LIPIDS

 

The lower carbohydrate intake will suppress free fatty acid production in the liver.

Simply because carbohydrate or sugar intake is low, and fatty acids are being burned up for energy instead.

 

KETOGENIC DIETS PROTECT THE BRAIN

 

The ketogenic diet seems to increase kynurenic acid in the striatum and hippocampus in the brain.  This has a protective effect on the brain cells and possibly one of the mechanisms associated with its beneficial effects on epilepsy and seizures.

 

KETOGENIC DIETS PROTECT THE HEART

 

The lowered blood glucose experienced with this diet prevents glycation and AGEs formation where glucose in the presence of inflammation damages proteins on cell walls and blood vessel walls and causes thickening which can accelerate atherosclerosis.

Improved ATP/energy production would improve the performance of heart function and ketones themselves also increases the hydrolic force of the heart.

 

KETOGENIC DIETS PROTECT AGAINST CELLULAR DAMAGE

 

Glucose goes through more processes (11 steps) and produces more NADH to be converted to energy.

Fats only use 3 steps and produce less NADH.

Every step and every NADH molecule that is formed produces more ROS (free radicals) in the process.  Free radicals can include super oxide (SO), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), formaldehyde and many other highly toxic substances that are very damaging to the cells, mitochondria and organs.  A ketogenic diet as opposed to a high carbohydrate diet is more conducive to healthy ageing.  For that matter, this is why the mediteranean diet is also responsible for its anti-ageing effects as it restricts glucose and processed/refined carbohydrates but includes healthy fats.

This holds great promise as a dietary application in CDR or the Cell Danger Response when cells are overwhelmed with too many free radicals to cope with and cellular activity slows down, often seen in chronic disease.  Hypoxia or pseudohypoxia often accompanies this, but since the ketogenic diet does not use oxidative phosphorylation which requires oxygen, it makes it an ideal source of energy in low oxygen states such as this.

 

KETOGENIC DIETS SPARE INSULIN

 

Ketones produce from ketogenic diets can enter directly into the mitochondria for energy production and does not need to go through GLUT transporters or require insulin activation.  The lower glucose/carbohydrate diet also triggers less insulin release and less need for GLUT translocation which takes a lot of pressure off the pancreas.  This reduces cravings and improves blood sugar control.

Exercise also spares insulin through the activation of AMPK but more so because of its effect on GLUT up-regulation.  Combining physical activity with a ketogenic diet will have far more superior effects on both weight loss and other health benefits than doing either in isolation.

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KETONES ACTING AS MESSENGERS

 

Ketones themselves can act as signalling molecules that may affect epigenetic control.

 

KETOGENIC DIETS IMPROVE CELL MEMBRANE STABILITY

 

Saturated fatty acids are shorter while MUFA (Mono-Unsaturated Fatty Acids) and PUFA (Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acids) are longer chain fatty acids.  These longer chain fatty acids are more bendable and create more fluidity in the cell membranes.  Together with adequate methylation and phospholipid production, the cell membranes become healthier and more fluid, with better responsiveness to environmental and dietary changes.

 

AUTOPHAGIA AND MITOGENESIS

 

Ketogenic diets in combination with intermittent fasting stimulates a process called autophagia which is the destruction of dead or dying cells, so a bit like in-house cleaning.  This concept is very important in those with chronic disease or heavy toxin loads.  If dead or dying cells are not cleared from the body it may prevent new cells from replacing these which will accelerate ageing.

It also stimulates mitogenesis which is the production of new mitochondria.  The more mitochondria we have, the fast our metabolism and the more efficient our cellular energy production becomes.

 

IN SUMMARY

 

We can see that there are many health benefits associated with ketogenic diets, ketones and intermittent fasting.

It may not necessarily involve following a ketogenic diet strictly, but more the concept of less carbohydrates, less glucose and energy in, and burning off more fuel that what we ingest.

 

 

References:

Ketogenic diet increases concentrations of kynurenic acid in discrete brain structures of young and adult rats

 

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