10 Health benefits of low carbs and ketogenic diets
Scientific studies have been able to prove that most low carb diets are healthy and beneficial to the human body.
Although some people affirmed that these diets raise cholesterol and cause heart disease due to their high fat content. The benefits of low carb diets have been a controversial topic for decades.
The keto diet has a massive fan base that keeps growing every day, this tells us that there should be benefits attached to this diet that keeps people interested.
Although most studies on the keto diet are premature, meaning they are small populations of humans or they are in rats, the results and benefits from human controlled studies are promising.
Below are 10 major health benefits of low carb and ketogenic diets;
- Helps with Epilepsy:
Epilepsy is a disease that causes seizures due to excessive brain activity. The only clear and proven health benefit of the keto diet is reducing epileptic seizures, especially in children. Using keto therapeutically for this purpose has been practiced since the year1920.
Anti- seizures medications are effective for some people with this condition while others do not respond to the drugs or can’t tolerate their side effects, so ketogenic diets is a remedy administered to some group of people with epilepsy.
Research shows that seizures typically improve in about 5th of epilepsy patients who follow the class ketogenic diet. This is also known as a 4:1 ketogenic diet because it provides 4 times as much fat as protein and carbs combined.
The modified Atkins diet (MAD) is based on a considerably less restrictive 1:1 ratio of fat to protein and carbs and has been shown to be equally effective for seizure control in most adults and children older than two years of age.
The ketogenic diet has also been proven to be beneficial to the brain beyond seizure control. Research that examined the brain activity of children with epilepsy observed improvements in various patterns in 65% of those following a ketogenic diet regardless of whether they had fewer seizures.
- Reduces your appetite:
A very important side effect of ketogenic and low carbs meal is that it reduces hunger, unlike other dieting methods that stimulate hunger.
Studies have been able to prove that people who cut down their carbs intake and eat more protein and fat end up eating far fewer calories.
Leads to weight loss:
This is because low carb diets act to rid excess water from the body, lowering insulin levels and leading to rapid weight loss in the first week or two.
Another study comparing low carbs and low- fat diets proved that people restricting their carbs sometimes lose 2- 3 times as much weight without being hungry.
Reduces abdominal fat:
They are two main types of fat, the subcutaneous which is under your skin and the visceral fat which accumulates in your abdominal cavity, visceral tends to lodge around your organs.
When it becomes excessive, it brings about inflammation and insulin resistance which may cause metabolic dysfunction.
Reduced triglyceride levels drastically:
Triglycerides are fat molecules that circulate in your bloodstream. It is known that high fasting triglycerides levels in the blood after an overnight fast are a strong heart disease risk factor.
Carb consumption is known to be one of the main causes of elevated triglycerides, especially simple fructose. When people cut carbs, they tend to experience a very dramatic reduction in blood triglycerides.
Increases good “HDL” Cholesterol level:
HDL- High-density lipoprotein is popularly referred to as the “good” cholesterol. The higher your HDL is relative to your LDL- bad cholesterol, the lower your risk of having heart disease. One of the best ways to increase “good” HDL levels is to eat fat and low carb diets.
Reduces blood sugar and insulin levels:
This benefit is attributed and helpful to people with diabetes and insulin resistance. People with diabetes often experience appealing reductions in blood sugar levels on a ketogenic diet. This is valid for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Dozens of controlled studies have been able to show that a very low carb diet helps control blood sugar and may also provide other health benefits.
Some studies has also shown that cutting carbs lowers both blood sugar and insulin levels drastically. People who are on a blood sugar medication and Are intending to adopt a low carb diet are advised to talk to their doctor first as the drug dosage may need to be adjusted to prevent hypoglycemia.
Lowers blood pressure:
Hypertension which is caused by blood pressure is a major risk factor for many diseases inducing stroke, heart disease and kidney failure.
Improves metabolic syndrome symptoms:
The metabolic syndrome which is sometimes referred to as “Pre- diabetes” is characterized by insulin resistance. The major symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome includes;
- Abdominal obesity (Large waist lines): 35 inches (89cm) or higher in women and 40 inches (102cm) or higher in men.
- High triglycerides: 150mg/dl (1.7mmol/L) or higher
- Low HDL cholesterol: Less than 40 mg/dL (1.04mmol/L)in men and less than 50md/Dl (1.5mmol/L) in women
- High blood pressure: 103/85mmhg or higher
- Elevated FBS (fasting blood sugar): 100mg/Dl (5.6mmol/L) or higher
People with metabolic syndrome are at high risk of diabetes, heart disease and other serious disorders related to insulin resistance.
Relieves symptoms associated with glycogen storage diseases (GSD):
People with GSD lack one of the enzymes involved in storing glucose (blood sugar) as glycogen or breaking glycogen down into glucose.
This disease is diagnosed in childhood. Symptoms vary depending on the type of GSD and may include poor growth, low blood sugar, fatigue and enlarged liver and muscle cramps. Patients with these diseases are often advised to consume high-carb foods at frequent intervals so glucose will always be available in the body.
However, early research suggests that a ketogenic diet may benefit people with some forms of GSD. GSD III is also known as Forbes- Cori disease affects the liver and muscles. Ketogenic diets may help relieve symptoms by providing ketones that can be used as an alternative fuel source.
Low carbs diets and ketogenic diets are becoming incredibly popular because of the health benefits they possess.
However, most of these benefits and results comes from case studies and need validation through higher- quality research including randomized controlled trials.
It is also important to note these diets are considered to help improve symptoms associated with the disease as mentioned in the article but should not be considered as a cure for any of them.
Nevertheless, the ketogenic and low carbs diet potential to improve health, weight loss and other benefits is promising.