Keto is all the nutritional rave now but it’s not new. Keto was discovered and used in Western medicine in the early 1920’s to help children with seizure disorders recover. The diet was so successful that it actually alleviated seizures in many children and greatly reduced them in others.
First, what is a ketogenic nutritional plan and how does the Holistic Keto for Gut Health differ? You may not realize it but if you eat carbohydrates then your body is conditioned to use glucose/glycogen for energy. This quick energy doesn’t last long. It’s the kind of energy we were designed to use for survival, not necessarily regeneration and rejuvenation. Conversely, your body is designed to turn fat into ketones and use this for fuel as well, but if you’re eating carbs, the survival mechanism clicks on and you’re a slave to glucose and inefficient metabolism. Your genetic disposition to use fats for fuel is brilliant, turning you into a metabolic superhero. It turns out that burning fat for fuel, instead of glucose, is much more efficient for most humans. The permanent regulation of blood sugar causes a huge drop in insulin levels, which have been associated with various disease patterns such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, increases in cholesterol, inflammation, and even Alzheimer’s.
You may be wondering, “If you don’t eat carbohydrates, then what do you eat?” Lots of organic, low-starch veggies, high healthy fats, moderate organic protein, plenty of sea salt, good electrolytes, and spring water. The approximate ratios are 65-70% healthy fats, 25-30% protein, 5-10% carbohydrates in the form of vegetables, especially leafy green ones.
Eeek, so much fat? Isn’t that bad for us? In very rare cases, if you have a genetic disorder, it may not work for you. Generally, it’s quite balanced. The other challenge that occasionally arises is associated with your gallbladder health. Many people, from years of eating poorly, being dehydrated, not chewing food completely, accumulating toxins in their system from the air, food, water; having poor gut health, suppressed emotions and trauma, and genetic challenges; may not do well with so much fat. Generally speaking, many people do. And if you don’t have your gallbladder, you will need to take bile salts to help you break down fat more efficiently. I take them even though I have a gallbladder, just to keep it healthy.
But how is a ketogenic type diet beneficial for you, if you don’t have epilepsy?
Science has proven that a standard ketogenic diet turns your metabolism up. Your body begins to burn ketone bodies (fat) for fuel, even when you’re sleeping. When you change back to eating carbohydrates, then it slows back down. This can be great if you have diabetes or excess weight to release. It can actually positively impact the systems that support healthy blood sugar regulation. It’s not just a quick-fix. Certainly, this depends on the amount of damage that has already been done, and how well you repair. Factors that impact your ability to heal and reverse tissue damage are nutrition, many environmental factors, exercise, hydration, stress adaptation and resilience, genetics, toxic exposures, emotions, your relationships, and finally, thoughts and beliefs.
Your brain is made up of mostly cholesterol and it requires fat to function well. Cholesterol actually allows nerve cells to communicate with each other. (1) The low-fat fad is long behind us, thank goodness as it was horrible for our health. Science has proven that your brain actually functions about 25% more optimally on healthy fats than it does on glucose. There is mounting evidence that a low carb, high healthy fat, keto type diet plan has shown to prevent certain forms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It actually has been shown to have neuroprotective properties. Ketone bodies also reduce the production of free radicals by improving the efficiency of the mitochondrial respiratory chain complex. It also means higher glutathione levels and more antioxidant activity. (2) This means slower aging, less tissue damage, and better tissue repair.
The typical ketogenic type diet includes certain inflammatory foods like dairy. In my first book Holistic Keto for Gut Health; A Program for Resetting Your Metabolism, I have an entire chapter on the dangers of dairy. I go into depth on the science behind dairy not being such a health food after all. One thing it causes is immune dysfunction and inflammation. Have you ever had ice cream, cheese, or some other dairy product and got a thin layer of mucus in your throat or a little congestion or stuffy nose? That’s an inflammatory response. We aren’t designed to consume dairy products, other than human breast milk, especially after the age of 5.
The holistic keto for gut health program differs from the typical keto type diet in that it omits inflammatory foods, focusing on digestive health, which leads to healthier immune function and vibrant health. It does eliminate the same carbohydrates that a standard keto diet omits, such as all grains, legumes, and starchy root vegetables but then it gets even better by incorporating gut healing. It’s a patient centered and very comprehensive approach. When working to improve your gut health it’s important to discover what may be in your way. You’re a unique individual and it’s fun to find what’s best for your body and life. Some people have hidden food sensitivities, chronic dehydration, subclinical thyroid disorders (directly impacts your gut health, production of Hydrochloric acid [HCL] in your stomach, and metabolism) others have insulin resistance, accumulations of toxins, unresolved emotional trauma, and poor habits of self-care.
The foundation of health includes so much more than just nutrition. Certainly, what you eat, digest, and absorb does matter but it’s not the only factor for vibrant health. Other important variables are hydration, exercise, sleep, heightening your awareness of yourself and your habits and patterns, healthy relationships, appropriate boundaries, honest and responsible communication, and inner peace to name a few. I am passionate about comprehensive care and believe a holistic and individualized approach to health and nutrition always offers the best results.
Blessings of Vibrant Health,
Kristin Grayce LAc, MAc, CFMP(R), CST-T, CLP
Health and Lifestyle Alchemist