In recent years it has become apparent that ketogenic diet has some medical benefits and can help with many neurological diseases. If you haven’t yet read our post on what the ketogenic is and how it is done, I’d strongly recommend reading it. You can find it here.
It is not a cure but it can help with certain symptoms that come with these conditions. Although the actual process of how the ketones affect these conditions is still under investigation there have been some studies conducted proving their effectiveness. The neurological diseases include refractory epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, traumatic brain injury.
People with Alzheimer’s disease have the issue of glucose not getting into the brain cells so when your body switches to ketones, it provides the alternative fuel for the brain cells to use and therefore, reduces the symptoms of this disease. Some studies have even shown that ketogenic diet can delay the onset of Alzheimers disease on middle aged people. For instance, a 2017 study with participants of ages 40-75 were placed on a ketogenic diet. The outcome of this study was clear, limited glucose (sugars from carbs) intake reduced and limited brain deterioration (Perng et al, 2017)
People who have epilepsy have shown to do much better on ketogenic diet and the incident of seizures are greatly reduced thanks to the improved mitochondria function. An excellent recent review article by Prezioso et al. highlighted 13 papers and found that altogether a median of 65% of children had greater than 50% spasm reduction by 6 months and 35% were spasm-free. In this review, it appeared that infants without a clear cause for their infantile spasms were more likely to respond.
Another group of people who may greatly benefit from ketogenic diet is people with cancer. There are many types of cancer but they all have one thing in common, a dysfunctional mitochondria. This means that cancer cells can only use glucose as fuel. This is also known as the Warburg Hypothesis. So, if you reduce glucose and increase ketones, you can slow the growth and spread of cancer since cancer uses glucose as fuel (Norton,2019). There was a study done in 2010, the participant was a 65 year old woman and the ketogenic treatment ran over two months. After 2 months, the patient’s body weight was reduced by about 20% and no discernable brain tumor tissue was detected using MRI imaging. Biomarker changes showed reduced levels of blood glucose and elevated levels of urinary ketones. MRI evidence of tumor recurrence was found 10 weeks after suspension of strict diet therapy. So, this goes to show how the ketogenic diet had an amazing effect on the tumour cells.
Please bear in mind this is not medical advice, you should consider speaking to your doctor. In conclusion, ketogenic diet may not be superior for weight loss but it certainly offers some great support in neurological conditions helping limit the growth of cancer cells and symptoms of epilepsy as well as alzheimer’s disease. Its medical properties are still under investigation but so far the results are promising. Also, If you’d like to check out the weight loss effects, a scientific review then you can read it here.
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Epilepsy,S.(2019).ketogenic diet. [online] Epilepsy Society. Available at: https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/ketogenic-diet#.XOp7vS2ZNQJ [Accessed 26 May 2019].
Mohokoro, N. Cernelic-Bizjak,M. Poklar-Vatovec,T. Grom,G.Kenig,S. Petelin,A. Jenko-Praznikar,Z. (2019) Weight loss, improved physical performance, cognitive function, eating behavior, and metabolic profile in a 12-week ketogenic diet in obese adults.; Volume 62, P64-77. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0271531718304627?via%3Dihub Last Accessed 03/07/2019.
Norton, L. (2019). Ketogenic Diets: What the Science Says. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHXP04ipDx8 [Accessed 26 May 2019].
Norton, L. and Baker, P. (2019). Fat loss forever. 1st ed
Perng, B., Chen, M., Perng, J. and Jambazian, P., 2017. A Keto-Mediet Approach with Coconut Substitution and Exercise May Delay the Onset of Alzheimer’s Disease among Middle-Aged. [online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29188860> [Accessed 23 March 2020].
Prezioso, G., Carlone, G., Zaccara, G. and Verrotti, A., 2018. Efficacy of ketogenic diet for infantile spasms: A systematic review. [online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28875525> [Accessed 23 March 2020].
Zuccoli, G., Marcello, N., Pisanello, A., Sarvadei, F., Vaccaro, S., Mukherjee, P. and Seyfried, T., 2010. Metabolic management of glioblastoma multiforme using standard therapy together with a restricted ketogenic diet: Case Report. [online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20412570> [Accessed 23 March 2020].