Metabolic dysfunction has gained a lot of attention in recent years, as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s continue to wreak havoc on human health. But what is the connection?
An unhealthy diet — one rooted in excess sugars from processed foods and grains — is creating insulin and leptin resistance. Once such resistances are developed, the body holds onto fat, builds up inflammation, and suffers cellular damage.
Weight and chronic health issues have become pressing concerns, but a life of discomfort, pain, and synthetic medications doesn’t have to be a reality. Could it be that you can set yourself free from such ailments and live a healthier life by optimizing your metabolic and mitochondrial function through proper food choices? Let’s explore.
What Is Nutritional Ketosis?
Nutritional ketosis is a state of health whereby the body is efficiently burning fat as its primary fuel source rather than glucose. A ketogenic diet involves eating a healthy high-fat, low-carb, and low- to moderate-protein diet.
There is much research on the benefits of such a diet, including a two-week carefully controlled inpatient study, which found that a ketogenic diet could help control weight and blood glucose concentrations in diabetic patients.
Entering Nutritional Ketosis
The word “diet” can be extremely intimidating to people, as it suggests every food you love, and every way in which you live your life, must suddenly be uprooted. Instilling fear in becoming healthier is a great way to keep you from beginning lifestyle changes at all. However, if you take things slowly, you can gradually train your body to make important shifts rather than shock it — and your mind — into submission.
To begin training your body to use fat for fuel, you must remove most of the sugars and starches from your diet, while also replacing those carbs with healthy fats. The big thing to note here is that you will not be starving yourself, but rather eating more of some things than others. And it doesn’t have to completely drastic.
A simple shift of dietary intake to about 50 gram or less per day of net carbs, along with keeping protein low-to-moderate, is typically all that is needed to make the shift to nutritional ketosis.
But every body is different, with each person responding to foods differently. This is why using a nutrient tracker to help you better understand what kinds of foods, and how much of them, will improve your ketogenic diet nutrient targets.
Once you’ve reached a ketogenic state, there is much to look forward to.
Nutritional Ketosis Can Benefit Brain Health
Brain health is something that is easily overlooked, but so necessary for daily function, including how productive you are. When burning fat as opposed to glucose, you promote improved cognition and mental acuity.
The diet is also beneficial for those affected by diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and potentially ALS, since such diseases are insulin resistant, or efficiently use glucose, resulting in the dying off of neurons. The presence of ketones offers neurons a better chance of survival.
One study found the diet to be beneficial for Parkinson’s patients. When followed, on average 43% saw improvements in their symptoms after just one month. And an Alzheimer’s patient following the diet while supplementing with MCT oil saw significant benefits.
Nutritional Ketosis Can Benefit Metabolic Conditions
Nutritional ketosis can be beneficial for combatting obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. With one of the diet’s best attributes being its ability to correct insulin resistance, it’s a great way to combat abdominal obesity, elevated triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure and/or elevated fasting blood sugar — all part of metabolic syndrome.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, has been shown to improve through the ketogenic diet. One study involving obese men with metabolic syndrome and NAFLD showed significant improvement in their weight, blood pressure, liver enzymes, and liver fat after four months on the diet.
Nutritional Ketosis May Help Prevent Cancer
A devastating disease, an estimated 38.5% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer of any site at some point during their lifetime, while there were approximately 14,738,719 people living with cancer of any site in the United States in 2014 alone. One of the leading causes of death around the world, any information on how it can be prevented deserves attention.
Nutritional ketosis has become a hot topic in relation to cancer prevention in recent years, as studies have shown its amazing potential to both prevent and treat the disease when combined with other treatments like chemotherapy and radiation.
The food choices you make have long been considered a major gateway to poor or optimal health, and the ketogenic diet is just another tool for better understanding how foods can help us avoid various life-threatening conditions and diseases.