7 Unexpected Health Benefits of the Keto Diet
People have been flocking to the Keto Diet in recent years because of its reputation for enhanced weight loss. And a survey of dieticians in the United States in 2020 showed that the Low-Carb Ketogenic Diet will continue to be the most popular fat loss diet this year. But there are tons of other health benefits of Keto apart from total weight loss.
You might already know that ketogenic diets were actually developed to reduce symptoms in epilepsy patients. Or that Keto can help to boost your immune system function. However, there are lots of other unexpected health benefits that are contributing to the Keto diet reigning supreme.
So, here are seven other unexpected health benefits of the Keto diet…
1 – Lowered Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
On a ketogenic diet, carbohydrates are cut to just 5% of your daily food intake. High-fat and low-carb intake is part of the keto basics. Your body usually breaks down carbs to produce glycogen which fuels your body. On Keto, the high fat intake and reduced carb intake trains your body to start burning fat into chemical compounds called ketones for energy instead.
Type 2 diabetes usually develops as a response to overconsuming sugary and starchy foods. Eating too much of these foods causes your pancreas to make high levels of insulin in an attempt to regulate blood sugar levels. When your insulin levels are consistent that high, your body becomes resistant to insulin which is a key marker of Type 2 diabetes.
But on the Keto diet, your body is not relying on carbs and sugar for energy. The drop glucose helps to regulate blood sugar levels, and therefore lower insulin levels. Doctors often recommend lower carbohydrate intake for patients with Type 2 diabetes, and studies have shown that the Keto diet helps to improve weight loss and reduce insulin levels.
2 – Alleviation of Depression & Anxiety Symptoms
Depression and anxiety are closely linked to the brain. And early research has begun to establish a link between ketogenic diets and the alleviation of typical symptoms of these common conditions.
A study conducted on rats showed promising results. Low physical activity is a common symptom of depression in people. In this study, one group of rats were put on a ketogenic diet. Those rats showed similar results to other groups of rats that had been treated with antidepressants. The scientists concluded that the Keto group were less likely to show “behavioral despair.”
In another study, one group of pregnant mice were fed ketogenic diets while another group was fed a standard diet. The mice born to the Keto group were more active physically than their standard diet counterparts.
The exact link between Keto and depression and anxiety has not been established. But anecdotal feedback among people who suffer from depression and anxiety has been very positive so far.
3 – Improved Sleep Quality
In the short term, Keto can actually have a negative impact on your sleep. This is most likely due to lower levels of serotonin and melanin. But these symptoms are short-lived. And research suggests that in the long term Keto can lead to better quality, deeper sleep.
Once you transition into ketosis (when your body is primarily burning fat into ketones for energy), your body settles down into better sleep patterns. Not only does Keto result in a deeper sleep and increased time in the all-important REM cycle, but a study by the International League Against Epilepsy found that people on Keto diets also needed less sleep time.
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4 – Healthier Liver Function
Fatty liver is a chronic condition that can lead to very serious health implications including cirrhosis of the liver, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. It’s also a condition that affects around 25% of adults in the Western world.
Two significant research studies have shown that low-carb diets, such as the Keto Diet, can quickly and dramatically reduce liver fat and the risk of these conditions. The first was a small study but produced highly compelling results. Participants experienced a massive loss of liver fat when following a low carbohydrate diet.
In another study, patients following a ketogenic diet showed significant improvement in the risk for non-alcoholic liver disease (NAFLD), liver scarring, and a 60% reduction in liver fat.
5 – Increased Brain Function
In the early twentieth century, ketogenic diets were developed to help relieve symptoms in epilepsy patients with groundbreaking results. More recently, studies suggest a link between the Keto diet and reduced risk for other neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease amongst others.
Some followers of Keto experience alleviation of chronic ailments like headaches and sleep disorders. It also has the potential to decrease the risk of certain brain cancers.
The science behind Keto and improved brain function is complex and not conclusively established. But scientist’s early research suggests the production of certain chemicals and ketones interact differently with the brain as a more efficient energy source.
6 – Healthier Cardiovascular System
Following the Keto diet has also been shown to improve cardiovascular health and may help prevent heart disease. However, this health benefit is closely linked to the nutrition sources used by Keto diet followers. It’s vital that your high fat intake is achieved from healthy sources and the “right” type of fat.
For example, a study in 2010 found that, between two low-carb diet groups, those that sourced their fats from vegetables and rich Omega-3 fatty acid foods decreased the risk of heart disease by 23% more than those who sourced fats mostly from meats.
To derive cardiovascular health benefits from Keto, it’s essential to source fats from unprocessed options like avocado, salmon, and nuts.
Learn more about proper Diet >>
7 – Improves Acne
Much of the evidence that says ketogenic diets improve acne is largely anecdotal. However, when you examine what we know about how acne flare-ups are triggered, combined with conclusive biological changes due to ketogenic diets, the effect of Keto on acne makes sense.
Acne is caused by a build-up of excess oil on the skin through sebaceous glands. This causes blockages in the pores which result in acne breakouts.
In one small study, it was found that diets low on the glycemic index reduced insulin levels and androgens (male hormones) which contributed to a reduction in acne. Keto is also proven to reduce inflammation in the body. And since inflammation can drive acne flare-ups, it’s logical that this may be a contributing factor in how ketogenic diets alleviate acne symptoms.
It’s pretty clear that the benefits of ketogenic diets go far beyond weight loss. So, if you’ve been thinking of trying Keto to eat clean and improve your general health and wellness, give it a try!
Keto Diet Starter Guide
Get started on your Ketogenic Journey today with this awesome infographic from TotalShape.com.
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