Your body is a unique machine which can adapt to any type of situation to survive. When there is an abundant supply of carbs, your body prefers to run its metabolism on glucose. However, the body switches to ketone/fat-burning when its glucose stores have been completely depleted.
What is the keto diet?
The keto diet is designed to make your body choose fat as its fuel by depriving it of carbs. Considering that functional medicine takes nutrition as a primary method to healing, is it right to adopt a keto diet? If yes, is the keto diet right for everybody?
The Keto diet is a high-fat, medium-protein, and low-carb diet that helps to get your body into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the body uses ketone bodies/fat to fuel its metabolic processes. While in a state of ketosis, the body’s mental and physiological processes will be powered by burning fat molecules known as ketones.
During normal times when the body receives an adequate supply of carbs, glucose is the preferred metabolic fuel. But a keto diet is designed with one purpose in mind; glucose depletion. When you eat carbs, the body uses some for energy and any excess will be converted to glycogen which is stored in the liver and muscles. Glycogen in the liver is released in between meals to keep your energy levels balanced but the glycogen stored in the muscles is mostly used to power you through high-intensity workouts.
On the other hand, a keto diet restricts carb consumption so that your body gradually uses up its glycogen stores until a period when it can’t rely on carbs for metabolism. When that happens, the body starts converting its fat stores into ketone bodies which can also be used for energy.
The keto diet has several health benefits. It has been used to treat epilepsy in children since the early parts of the 20th century, and it’s an effective weight loss strategy, as well as promoting insulin sensitivity, and protection against certain cancers. However, the keto diet has some side effects and it’s extremely difficult to sustain in the long term due to its restrictive nature.
Should you use the keto diet for therapeutic purposes?
It depends on your health and how your body responds to the diet. For some people, a keto diet is a no-no. If you are a professional athlete that regularly performs high-intensity exercises for long periods, your diet must include a higher amount of carbs because the particular type of workouts you do require glycogen, a scarce commodity in a state of ketosis. While you may increase your carb intake on the days that you engage in such workouts, you still run a risk of quickly depleting your glycogen stores, reducing your endurance, and increasing the risk of muscle waste.
People with brain and focus issues can benefit a lot from a keto diet as ketone bodies are excellent fuel for the brain. *People with neurological disorders such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive impairment, memory issues, traumatic brain injury, and brain fog can use the keto diet to achieve increased mental function and help alleviate some of the symptoms of these disorders.
Keto diet can also help you lose weight
Weight loss is a major benefit of this diet. If your weight gain is due to hormonal imbalances like high levels of insulin or sugar cravings, keto can help balance your insulin levels, improve insulin sensitivity and curb your sugar appetite. However, much of the weight you will lose while on keto is due to loss of retained water which is the result of lower carbs intake. When you start eating more carbs, your body will start retaining water once more, and your weight will also increase.
Strictly following the keto diet, like many diets can be hard for some people to do. Many of the people who have a hard time following a specific diet are not producing enough endorphins and other feel-good hormones in their body. Unless you are in a great state of health, you likely lack certain fundamental natural processes in your body. This makes food cravings and other cravings increase as your body desperately is trying to feel good.
One of the most hidden reason’s why it’s so hard to be disciplined with diet, exercise, sleep etc. is that most of us are walking around in constant fight-or-flight all day, without knowing it. We are all living in a high-stress, high-performance culture which can create lots of stress and anxiety. This then shows up through dysregulated breathing patterns, only adding to the problem. For the people that do not have easy, light, natural breathing, they will find that following a diet or exercise routine is difficult. For some people, it is best to work on breathing before undertaking anything drastic otherwise they may drop out before seeing what something like the keto diet can really do.
It’s important to note that the keto diet may produce some side effects such as bad breath, brain fog, achy muscles nausea, insomnia, and fatigue during the day, although it appears most of these occur at the initial stage of the keto diet. When your body enters ketosis, you will feel energized and more alert. People who have kidney or liver issues, as well as mitochondrial disorders, should not use the keto diet. It’s important that you speak to your healthcare provider before adopting the keto diet or any other diet for nutritional or therapeutic purposes.
Functional Medicine’s technique of preventing and treating disease through diet is one reason why many people are saying that Functional Medicine is the most important trend. Functional Medicine is one of the strongest alternatives to the conventional medical system. We hope that our brothers and sisters in mainstream medicine will soon catch on to the power of our techniques and open the door to true healing for everyone.
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