Benefits of the Keto Diet
Improved Mood and Cognitive Function
Being in ketosis will trigger a series of physiological responses, for example mitochondrial biogenesis, this being the growth of new mitochondria – the cells’ power stations. It will also promote improving the function of existing mitochondria ultimately culminating in optimised cell function and efficiency. Ketones have been shown to be the preferred fuel source for the brain and heart and have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier (not hydro-phobic), making them readily available as a fuel source.
Brain fog has been attributed to elevated ammonia levels and depressed GABA (the chill-out neurotransmitter) and ketones have been shown to increase GABA signalling and the removal of ammonia, helping to improve clarity.
Improved Insulin Sensitivity
Our ability to burn fat is largely controlled by our hormones. Elevated insulin impedes the liberation of fat from storage. When insulin levels are elevated, fat burning is dulled until such time that insulin returns to normal levels. Insulin resistance or insensitivity will result in chronically elevated insulin making metabolising fat harder to achieve.
Reducing or mitigating systemic inflammation is the core goal for myself and my clients. Assuming you have attained ketosis through ‘clean’ food then ketosis can inhibit inflammasomes, which are a part of the immune response which promote inflammation. Keeping a lid on inflammation is the cornerstone to health.
It is not our inherited genes that determine our health but rather the expression of genes caused by lifestyle choices, this accounts for 90% of our health outcomes. We have the ability to grow new brain cells through a process called neurogenesis, which occurs when we produce BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factors) – fertiliser for the brain. There are few mechanisms that stimulate BDNF and being in ketosis is one of them.
Protect Neuron Health
Ketones elicit a protective response for the brain, which is highly significant in the fight against neurodegenerative diseases. As we age there tends to be a decline in the integrity of our brain cells. Studies have shown that ketones improve cognitive function for Alzheimer’s, MS and Parkinson’s sufferers. In fact, beta hydroxybutyrate (one of the three ketones we can manufacture) has been shown to reduce neuronal loss in animal models.
Encourage Fat Loss
Increased fat loss is often the off-shoot in the pursuit of health. Being in ketosis will naturally increase satiety due to the foods you gravitate to, helping to normalise blood sugar and assist with cravings. To produce ketones, we need to ‘liberate’ body fat making fat available for metabolism. It is this process, in combination with appetite suppression and lowered insulin that help to promote fat loss. Essentially ketosis or even a low carb diet based on whole and unprocessed foods will help to auto-regulate appetite.
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When it comes to health we can be very easily convinced or swayed by a shiny new superfood, piece of workout equipment or adaptogenic supplement. We all want health and we all want it today.
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Weight loss is more a conversation about hormones and chemicals then it is about calories. If we only look at weight loss through the lens of calories (energy in versus energy out) it’s superficial and will inhibit progress.