The Ketogenic Diet - Top Benefits and
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January 5, 2010, last updated February 10, 2013
By Susan M. Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other
members of our Editorial Board.]




Many of us have heard of the ketogenic diet but few of us
actually understand its benefits and downsides.

There are many variations of the classic ketogenic diet floating
around the web these days. But the classic ketogenic diet was
designed by the Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Russell Wilder in 1924.  The
diet emphasizes fats, includes adequate protein and  minimizes
carbohydrates.

In the absence of enough carbohydrates, your body turns to
fat to produce the glucose it needs, producing “ketones” as a
sort of substitute glucose. Why does your body so badly need
glucose that it resorts to using stored fat to produce it?
Glucose is the only type of energy your brain is able to
process.  We've set out to identify the proven health benefits of
the ketogenic diet and the dangers, if any, of following the diet
over the long term


The ketogenic diet is not the same as an Atkins diet or other
low carbohydrate diets because, in these other diets,
carbohydrates are allowed at a much higher level. The classic
ketogenic diet, invented in 1924 by Dr. of the Mayo Clinic, only
allows 8 to 30 grams of carbohydrates daily, together with
adequate protein (1 gram of protein for every kilo -- 2.2
pounds -- of body weight), and fats.





The Ketogenic Diet Reduces Epileptic Seizures




























The ketogenic diet is an established, scientifically proven
treatment for cases of
epilepsy which prove resistant to drugs.
The effectiveness of this diet for reducing epileptic seizures was
first noticed in the 1920’s.


Children who suffer epileptic seizures are often medicated with
powerful anti-seizure drugs.  However, in a large number of
cases, the drugs simply do not work. As a result, these children
are unable to learn at a normal pace or to socialize normally.


In 1998, scientists from Johns Hopkins University undertook a
study of how drug-resistant epilepsy patients respond to
dietary changes. The study included 51 children, aged 1 to 8,
who were experiencing more than 10 seizures per week. These
children also had failed to respond to at least 2 anti-seizure
drugs.



After being on a ketogenic diet for 3 months, more than 54%
of the children experienced a more than 50% drop in the
number of seizures they suffered. This pattern of being seizure-
free continued for 6 months for 55% of the children. And at
the end of 1 year, a full 10% of the children were still seizure
free.


Many other studies from universities around the world have
confirmed the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet against
epileptic seizures.


One such study was completed 10 years after the Johns
Hopkins study, in 2008 by the

Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital for
Children NHS Trust, University College London.  The London
study examined 145 children between the ages of 2 and 16
years, all of whom had experienced daily seizures  or who had
had at least 7 seizures per week. The children also had not
responded to at least two anti-epileptic drugs.


Half the children were put on a ketogenic diet and half were
not. After being on the ketogenic diet for 3 months, the
children on the diet experienced a 75% drop in seizures.



Some studies have compared the Atkins diet with a classic
ketogenic diet in terms of their effectiveness in treating
epileptic seizures.



For example, a 2011 study from Denmark (Department of
Paediatrics, Danish Epilepsy Centre, Filadelfia, Dianalund,
Denmark) found that the modified Atkins diet produced results
similar to the classic ketogenic diet in reducing epileptic
seizures.


A Ketogenic Diet Reduces the Body Weight and Lowers Blood
Sugar and Cholesterol



Many studies have confirmed that a ketogenic diet reduces
body weight.  The reason that weight loss occurs is because, in
a carbohydrate-poor environment,  your body is forced to use
stored body fat as fuel to produce glucose (ketones).  


A 2004 study from the Faculty of Allied Health Sciences in
Kuwait University looked at how a ketogenic diet affected
weight loss in obese people over a 6 month (24 week) period.
The diet consisted of  30 grams of  carbohydrate in the form of
green vegetables and salad, 1 g of protein per kilogram of body
weight in the form of fish, meat, poultry, eggs and shellfish,
20% saturated fat, and 80% polyunsaturated and mono-
unsaturated fat.  


The participants included 83 people (39 men,44 women) with a
body mass index over 35 and an average starting weight of
101 kilograms (222 pounds) with high blood sugar and high
cholesterol levels.


At the end of 6 months, the average weight of the participants
was 86.67 kilograms (190 pounds) for a weight loss of  14.3
kilograms (31.5 pounds). The ending BMI was 32, down from
35.


Blood sugar levels dropped from 7.26 mmol/L  to 5.62
mmol/L. Doctors define a normal fasting blood sugar level at
100 mg/dL or below (5.6 mmol/L). Levels above 126 mg/dL (
7 mmol/L) on 2 separate occasions means you have Type 2
diabetes.


What this means is that the participants were diabetic at the
start of the experiment. By the end of 6 months of a ketogenic
diet, they have
normal blood sugar levels.


As for cholesterol, LDL (bad)
cholesterol declined from 4.1
mmol/L to 3.3 mmol/L, a drop of 19.5%.


But What Are The Downsides of the Ketogenic Diet?



Despite the obvious benefits of a ketogenic diet, there are many
reported complications. Most of the complications are transient.
However, some were serious.


A 2004 study from Inje University College of Medicine, Sang-
gye Paik Hospital in South Korea tried to identify early and late
onset complications from the ketogenic diet. The study, of 129
people children on a ketogenic diet for 6 years, reported the
following  complications, some of which may not have had
anything to do with the diet itself but were experienced by
participants and therefore noted:



-dehydration, which occurs often in patients who start the
ketogenic diet with an initial fast


-stomach and intestinal problems including diarrhea,
constipation and  nausea/vomiting.


-high triglyceride numbers initially


-high cholesterol numbers


-low protein levels


-various infectious disease


-low blood sugar( symptomatic hypoglycemia)


-low magnesium,

-repetitive hyponatremia,


-low levels of
HDL (good) cholesterol

-lipoid pneumonia due to aspiration (in hospital)

-hepatitis,

-acute pancreatitis,

-persistent metabolic acidosis.

-
osteopenia,

-renal stones,

-cardiomyopathy

-secondary hypocarnitinemia,

-iron-deficiency
anemia

-sepsis (blood poisoning)


During the 6 years, 3 people died from causes which may not
have had a connection to the diet, of pneumonia and sepsis.




The Only Safe Way to Follow the Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet is not for amateurs. You should talk with
your doctor before you begin the diet in order to understand
whether your body presents any special problems that make it
unwise to cut down so drastically on carbohydrates.

Many people, and many studies, on the ketogenic diet begin
with a cleansing fast, to "wipe the slate clean", so to speak.
You'll need to clear this decision to fast also with your doctpr.


































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