Mounting research suggests nutritional ketosis is the answer to a long list of health problems, starting with obesity. A ketogenic diet (link is external) is one that shifts your body’s metabolic engine from burning carbohydrates to burning fats.
A ketogenic diet requires that 50 to 70 percent of your food intake come from beneficial fats, such as coconut oil, grass-pastured butter, organic pastured eggs, avocado, and raw nuts such as pecans and macadamia nuts. The carbs are very very minimal so your body burns fat for energy. That means there is little sugar in your system blocking the body from utilizing fat in favor of burning sugar.
During this state, the body produces ketones, made from fats processed in the liver.
The end goal of a properly maintained keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state. We don’t do this through starvation of calories, but through starvation of carbohydrates. Our bodies are extremely adaptive to what you put into it – when you overload it with fats and take away carbohydrates, it will begin to burn ketones as the main energy source.
Health Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet
Leads to Weight Loss
Cutting carbs is one of the simplest and most effective ways to lose weight. On a ketogenic diet, dietary carbohydrates are kept very low, protein is moderate and fat consumption is increased, gently encouraging our body to remember how to rely on fat as a primary fuel and to produce ketones from stored body fat.
Cancer cells love sugar! Sugar essentially feeds tumors and encourages cancer growth. This is why a diet that gets rid of sugar and other carbohydrates can be effective in preventing or fighting cancer. The regular cells found in our bodies are able to use fat for energy, but cancer cells cannot metabolically shift to use fat.
One review published in Redox Biology highlighted some of them, indicating promising results for colon, gastric, and prostate cancers. Dr. Eugene Fine of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine hypothesizes that ketone bodies stop cancers by changing the availability of energy processes in cancer cells.
A preliminary paper from Dr. Fine’s team was published and the summary of results states that “Preliminary data demonstrate that an insulin-inhibiting diet is safe and feasible in selected patients with advanced cancer. The extent of ketosis, but not calorie deficit or weight loss, correlated with stable disease or partial remission.”
Protects your brain
The low-carb, high-fat way of eating has also been linked to helping with other neurological disorders. Research published in Behavioral Pharmacology found ketogenic diets may be effective for minimizing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. In one study, Parkinson’s patients who followed a 4-to-1 ketogenic diet experienced, on average, a 43 percent improvement in their symptoms after one month.
Studies also support the benefits of a ketegonic diet for autism. Autism shares some features with epilepsy, and many people with autism experience seizures related to the over-excitement of brain cells. Research found that a majority of autistic children showed improvement after following a cyclical ketogenic diet for six months.