Benefits and Side Effects of the Keto Diet

It can be stressful to find the right diet these days, with such a variety of complex options available. In your research, it is likely that you have asked the question “What is the keto diet?” The keto diet, or ketogenic diet, can be simplified as a low carbohydrate and high-fat diet, with a suitable amount of protein to balance those components.

History of the Keto Diet

Ketones are molecules produced from fatty acids by the liver. Scientists in the 1920s learned that high levels of ketones in an epileptic patient’s blood could minimize the chances of seizures. By consuming a diet with more fat and fewer carbohydrates, the human body naturally relies on fatty acids for energy, rather than glucose from carbohydrates. Doctors began to recommend a ketogenic diet with a fat: carbohydrate ratio of 4:1 to their patients. As the 20th century passed, the keto diet was less recommended by doctors due to improvements in pharmaceutical solutions for epilepsy, such as anticonvulsant drugs.

Modern Popularity of the Keto Diet

In the 1990s, a television producer named Jim Abrahams used his influence to start a foundation to promote the keto diet, which had treated his son’s epilepsy. According to a 2009 scientific paper published in the Journal of Child Neurology, scientists reported that epileptic seizures were reduced by more than 90% in one-third of patients studied as well as by more than 50% in half of those patients when they were treated with the keto diet. Researchers today are still investigating whether the keto diet can help patients with the following afflictions:

  • Brain cancer
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Headaches
  • Sleep disorders
  • Diabetes

Side Effects of the Keto Diet

While not as extreme as the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs, there can be negative consequences to the keto diet. These include:

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Acidosis (high levels of acids in the blood)
  • Dyslipidemia (high levels of blood lipids)
  • Constipation
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Stunted growth
  • Kidney stones
  • Dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps)
  • Weight loss

The weight loss side effect has been of particular interest to some people, even those who do not suffer from any health conditions other than high weight. The keto diet is sometimes considered to be a more extreme version of the Atkins diet, a type of low carbohydrate diet. However, due to the other side effects of the keto diet, it is very important to consult with your doctor before starting it.

In conclusion, the ketogenic diet is proven to have many positive benefits to patients. Scientists are busy researching even more applications for it. If you think the keto diet could help you, make an appointment with your doctor today!