The good, the bad and the ugly side of ketosis

What is ketosis?

Ketosis is a metabolic state that occurs when your body does not have enough carbs to burn for energy. Instead, it burns fat to produce ketones, which it can utilise as fuel.

Ketosis is a term you're likely to come across if you're seeking for information on diabetes or weight loss. Is this a good or negative thing? That is dependent on the situation.

Is keto good for you?

Aside from weight loss, the keto diet may be useful in the treatment or prevention of disorders other than epilepsy, such as:

Metabolic Syndrome Limited research, including a study published in November 2017 in the journal Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews, suggests that adults with metabolic disease who follow the keto diet lose more weight and body fat than those who follow the standard American diet, which is high in processed foods and added sugars.

Type 2 Diabetes Research published in the Journal of Obesity & Eating Disorders in September 2016 suggested the diet could help people with type 2 diabetes and can lead to improvements in HbA1c levels (though be warned, it can also lead to hypoglycemia — low blood sugar levels — if you take medication to lower your blood sugar.

Bipolar Disorder In those with type 2 bipolar disorder, keto may be a mood stabiliser, and one early study, published in the journal Neurocase in October 2012, revealed the diet may be even more helpful than medicine.

Obesity Obese people on a very-low-calorie ketogenic diet lost more weight and inflammatory visceral (belly) fat than those on a standard low-calorie diet, according to a study published in the journal Endocrine in December 2016. According to a February 2018 paper published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, it may also aid in the preservation of lean body mass after weight loss.

Alzheimer's disease and dementia A tiny study published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging in February 2013 discovered that older higher-risk persons on a keto diet exhibited improved memory performance after only six weeks. Some specialists, such as Richard Isaacson, MD, head of the Alzheimer's Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York–Presbyterian in New York City, advocate low-carb diets for patients as a strategy to delay brain ageing and possibly Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia.

Parkinson's Disease Because these patients are at a higher risk of dementia, researchers such as Robert Krikorian, PhD, professor of clinical psychiatry and director of the division of psychology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio, are investigating how inducing nutritional ketosis may be used to preserve cognitive functioning.

Certain Cancers Some studies, notably one published in the journal Oncology in November 2018, have suggested that keto could be used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation. However, further research is needed to discover whether keto can play a role in cancer therapy, and patients should not use it as a stand-alone treatment or without a doctor's approval.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Because women with the infertility disorder PCOS are more likely to develop diabetes and obesity, some specialists prescribe the keto diet, according to Taylor Moree, RD, LD, of Balance Fitness and Nutrition in Atlanta. However, PCOS is similar to the majority of the other health issues described here: Long-term research on safety is required.

Why keto is bad- Keto diet side effects long term

Beyond the first two years, researchers don't know much about the long-term implications of the keto diet. However, vitamin and mineral shortages are potential dangers of any restrictive diet.

A person following the keto diet must keep track of their carbohydrate intake from all sources, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. As a result, people may need to limit their use of foods that previously provided them with essential nutrients.

Vitamin and mineral shortages can result in a wide range of symptoms, from moderate to severe. A person on the keto diet must ensure that they do not lose any nutrients as a result of modifying their diet.

A high fat, high protein diet may also pose the following risks:
  • Kidney stones
  • steatosis of the liver (fatty liver)
  • Hypoproteinemia, or low protein levels in the blood

Is keto bad for your heart?

Low carbohydrate diets in general may be harmful. For example, according to a 2016 study, persons who follow low carb diets had higher levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease.

Furthermore, the authors of a 2012 review found that a low carbohydrate diet centred on animal protein and fat sources increased the risk of type 2 diabetes and death.

More research is needed to understand the potential long-term adverse effects and hazards of the keto diet in particular.

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