Keto Diet Health Benefits Besides Weight Loss
When it comes to keto diet health benefits, many people know they can use it to lose weight quickly, safely and effectively. But what about the keto diet health effects? What else is keto good for? Let’s find out.
There are a number of health conditions that ketogenic eating can be helpful for. They can be divided into four main groups:
- Metabolic health
- Brain health
- Gut health
- Other health effects
Keto diet health benefits: metabolic health
Type 2 diabetes
This is the big one and it’s related to weight, blood sugar and the fat storing hormone insulin. These factors all drop and tend to normalise on keto, even if they start out high.
The most obvious of these metabolic health conditions beyond obesity is Type 2 diabetes. A keto low-carb diet is great for reversing type 2 diabetes. And it makes perfect sense. If you eat less of what turns into sugar in the body – carbs – then high blood sugar levels will go down and tend to normalise. This lowers insulin and when insulin is generally low for a long time insulin resistance improves.
There are a number of high-quality studies showing a reversal of type 2 diabetes on keto low-carb diets.
Importantly, keto is a super powerful tool for people with type 2 diabetes. So powerful that you can become too healthy for your diabetes drugs, so the drugs could drop blood sugar levels too much, resulting in low blood sugar, which is potentially dangerous.
To avoid this you may have to reduce the doses of any diabetes medication, especially insulin.
It is critical that you know how to handle this and you should discuss it with your doctor before you start to a keto diet so that you can do this right in a safe way.
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes can also benefit. You can’t reverse or cure it like type 2 but keto can be very helpful to maintain normal blood glucose levels and reduce the need for insulin. People still need insulin, but far less.
And again with type 1, it’s hugely important to know how to correctly decrease insulin doses. So discuss it with your doctor.
High blood pressure
Another metabolic factor that improves rapidly on a keto diet is hypertension or high blood pressure. It tends to drop and normalise and this can sometimes happen quickly starting within days.
If you’re on blood pressure medication again your blood pressure may become too good, too normal for your medication, so the drugs could result in low blood pressure. You’d have to reduce the dose or stop taking it. Again talk to your doctor about this.
Other metabolic problems that tend to improve are PCOS, a common hormonal issue for women and some cholesterol abnormalities. Specifically, triglycerides and HDL, the good cholesterol, tends to improve.
Keto diet health benefits
Many people use keto for the feeling of constant energy and mental performance they get, but there are also several serious brain disorders that tend to improve in a very empowering way.
The first one and the most well studied is epilepsy.
Keto diets have been used for about 100 years to treat epilepsy in children and it’s become more and more popular.
It’s been shown in studies to work about equally well in adults and many people use it to control their epilepsy with less medication or even without it. And this has important benefits as epilepsy drugs can have side effects like decreased cognitive abilities or even personality changes. Using keto to be able to decrease or even eliminate the need for medication is a very empowering tool for anyone with epilepsy.
Another common benefit is a reduction in migraines headaches. There are a few promising studies already and many, many stories from people who have dramatically improved their symptoms.
It can definitely be worth trying keto for anyone with severe migraines problems. Some people even report improvement when it comes to ADHD symptoms. Now, this condition is less studied and the evidence is still mostly anecdotal, but it could be worth testing it to see if symptoms improve.
The third group is gut health. One of the most common health problems in the world is IBS or irritable bowel syndrome. The common symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, cramping diarrhoea etc.
IBS is considered a chronic disease with no cure but a very common experience on low-carb and keto diets is that symptom of IBS dramatically improve within days. And studies show the same thing and there is a good explanation.
Eating fewer carbs and especially certain fermentable carbs called “FODMAPs” (Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols) result in less gas production in the large intestine, reducing bloating cramping etc.
As Dr Ted Naiman put it after decades of experience treating patients with low-carb diets, “No carbs equals no fermentation equals no IBS. It’s simple and it works great.”
Another gut issue that tends to improve in many people is heartburn. There are at least two studies showing a positive effect, reducing symptoms and making it possible for people to get off their heartburn medication.
When it comes to other even more serious gut diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis some people have reported impressive improvements, but there are no studies yet to verify this effect.
A keto low-carb diet can be very helpful for sugar addiction or addiction to sweet processed foods. This is a real problem for a lot of people. And just like abstinence from alcohol is essential for anyone with alcoholism to recover; or nicotine abstinence is required to get free of smoking addiction; someone with an addiction to processed carbs and sugar needs to avoid it to get free of their addiction. It is hard, like breaking any addiction, but it can be done.
Other health issues
A keto diet lowers insulin and other growth factors like IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1). High levels of IGF-1 are associated with cancer. Reduced IGF-1 levels are associated with lower incidence of cancer, improved stress resistance, reduced insulin levels and improved insulin sensitivity.
Keto could potentially slow down cell deviations which open up some amazing possibilities. Maybe a keto diet could prevent or reduce the risk of cancer? Perhaps it could even help in the treatment of certain cancers. A number of human studies are now ongoing and preliminary results look promising. It’s too early to know for sure but this could be huge.
Another equally exciting possibility is that this reduction in growth factories and cell divisions might increase longevity. Essentially prolonging the average lifespan of people eating keto.
Again this is still completely unproven based on theories and very preliminary science. It would be decades or more before we know for sure, but it’s a very intriguing possibility. And some people stay on a keto low-carb diet because they believe can prevent disease and prolong life.
In the meantime, before we know for sure about this there are some very real definite health effects today.
Ketogenic diet benefits summary
To summarise, keto benefits may include:
- Metabolic effects to improve obesity, diabetes, blood pressure and PCOS
- Brain health to reduce epilepsy and migraine, improve energy and mental performance
- Gut health, IBS, common issues like bloating and heartburn improve under keto and you get a calmer stomach.
With the ketogenic diet, you will experience improved energy with a reduction in hunger. Not having to snack all the time it’s a great freedom and it might be great for my future health as well.
Most keto followers display great health markers including blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and much more.