While Keto and gut health are currently hot topics in the field of health and wellness, they’re also backed with loads of science. So is intermittent fasting. Fasting has been used for health benefits for over 2,000 years, and it’s important to learn how to do it safely.
Before I dive into the health benefits, as well as cautions of intermittent fasting, I think it’s first necessary to outline my version of a truly healthy ketogenic nutritional plan.
A standard ketogenic diet consists of eating a certain number of calories in three main food groupings; fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Approximately 70% should be from healthy fats, 20% protein, and 10% carbohydrates, in the form of vegetables. A ketogenic diet has been used therapeutically to effectively treat seizures in children since the 1920s. It has been researched and shown to potentially prevent neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, insulin resistance (metabolic syndrome), obesity, and autoimmune disorders, to name a few. Carbohydrates have been shown to be the cause of the above mentioned health issues, so carbohydrate restriction can be an important nutritional shift. It’s more than a simple fad diet, it’s a nutritional plan that is medicinal.
However, my research, of which I go into great depth in my first book: Holistic Keto for Gut Health, The Program for Resetting Your Metabolism, has led me to better understand several problems with the standard keto diet. I believe, in order for you to be an informed consumer, it’s necessary to point out the good, the bad, and how to sort through it all, to find what will be best for you. I will list my concerns with the standard keto diet, my unique and holistic approach, and then address intermittent fasting so you can find what works best for you.
Concerns with Standard Keto Diets:
- Encourages inflammatory foods such as dairy, eggs, coffee, and artificial sweeteners.
- Allows unhealthy oils like corn, safflower, and partially hydrogenated oils.
- Encourages certain veggies, but then lacks emphasis on organic, non-processed foods (packaged foods can be low or no carb, high in unhealthy fats and be damaging to your body and keto plan).
- Disregards the importance of eating with the seasons. In Traditional Asian medicine, eating with the seasons is very important for your health. Depending where you live, this may be simple or more difficult, so do your best.
- Typically, never addresses lifestyle, mindset, addiction, and emotional eating; leaving people to struggle with the drastic food changes.
- Doesn’t define the best water (Spring Water is best, tap water is usually horrible and can potentially damage your body with toxic residue from pharmaceuticals, hormones, and chemicals).
- Doesn’t individualize exercise plans. Many people on the keto diet hardly exercise and often have no support or tools to understand what kind of exercise may be best for them, on this particular diet, for their health goals.
- Doesn’t individualize nutritional plans (Keto doesn’t mean everyone needs to eat the same things simply because they are keto based). People will need a variety of nutrients depending on many factors of their health, life, and genetics.
- Doesn’t acknowledge the impact of a high fat diet on your gall bladder health. There are certain supplements that help your body better process fats, avoiding stressing your gall bladder, or clogging or blocking your gall bladder ducts.
- Doesn’t acknowledge the possible impact of a high fat diet on your cholesterol levels. Although often minor, individual variables influence this and it’s important to test and track how your body is processing fats.
- Doesn’t address the health issues that may be in conflict with a keto diet plan, such as, certain types of Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis disorders (adrenal fatigue), gall bladder removal (unless certain supplements are taken), and certain forms of high cholesterol.
My functional keto for gut health program takes all of these and more into consideration, and I’d like you to as well. It’s an act of self-love to take preventative measures and step into a higher version of yourself. If you’re interested in keto, then you are headed in the right direction. I’d like to help you get there, reach your health goals, and then remain strong and vibrant.
I’m in a few keto groups on Facebook and am often surprised at how many people that drink and eat “diet” foods, think they are healthy because they have low to no carbohydrates. However, they haven’t learned the detrimental impact those synthetic sweeteners have on the brain, nervous system, and other organs. I also see people struggling with weight loss, emotional eating, and addiction. I give dozens of my clinical pearls, tips, and tricks in my Keto book, but I wanted to give you a few right here!
Holistic Keto for Gut Health Tips:
- Avoid dairy, though can be high fat, it’s a common allergen, causing inflammation in your body, and especially your gut. It confuses your immune system in many ways (see my chapter on The Dangers of Dairy for more science-based facts).
- Take ox bile or bile salts to support your gall bladder while on a high fat nutritional plan. This can cause diarrhea in the beginning, so take it slowly and modify your dose depending on your symptoms. In about a week, your body will assimilate it well and you can rest assured that your gall bladder will remain happy. If you’ve had your gall bladder removed, then it’s even more important to take this with every meal that contains fat.
- Avoid processed and packaged foods as much as possible. High fat, no carb doesn’t automatically mean full of nutrients and good for you.
- Get off coffee. This highly addictive drink can really mess with your body in several ways. Firstly, it’s acidic and eats away the lining of your stomach, which then takes 48 hours to regrow. This lining is important for your digestive health. Secondly, it alters your brain chemistry and causes addiction, other cravings, mood swings, and sleep disorders. Thirdly, it is hard on your liver and kidneys. Yes, even decaffeinated. Look out for an upcoming blog on coffee and science backing my claims that it is absolutely NOT a health food. Even if it’s “bullet proofed” or “keto coffee”.
- Avoid diet sodas. Fake sweeteners are toxic and cause cancer in laboratory animals.
- Consume healthy fats from lamb, higher fat content beef, salmon, coconut oil, avocados, cocoa butter, pumpkin seed oil, macadamia nut oil, ghee, and olive oil, to name a few. Never cook with olive oil as it’s not meant to withstand high temperatures, and it changes to an unhealthy oil when heated. Use it drizzled on your food after you’ve cooked it. Cook with avocado oil, coconut oil, ghee, and duck fat.
- Always shop organic, free-range, grass fed, and wild whenever humanly possible.
- Shop local whenever you can.
- Plan your meals ahead of time so you don’t self-sabotage when you’re hungry.
- Drink plenty of Spring water and consider taking electrolytes to stay in balance. I like Trace Minerals and QuintEssential.
- Get plenty of sleep. Do your best to be in bed before 10 or 10:30 PM, at the latest.
- Move your body. Exercise is important for health and is part of a holistic keto plan. It’s important to do a variety of exercising including: Cardio, Weight training, Stretching, and Balance. Do your best to exercise in the morning rather than in the evening, to support healthy cortisol levels and sleep.
- Surround yourself with love, kindness, and support. If your family or friends aren’t encouraging you to eat well, exercise, and do self-care, then please consider upgrading them to people who are. Unhealthy relationships create dis-ease in the body and mind. They wear on your heart and soul, drain you of energy, motivation, and self-esteem. You deserve better. It may be time to Level-Up!
- Consider incorporating some kind of fasting.
Please stay tuned for next week, where we will discuss incorporating intermittent fasting in more depth.
Blessings of Vibrant Health,
Kristin Grayce McGary
Health & Lifestyle Alchemist