The ketogenic diet bears the burden of popularity

The ketogenic diet is one of today’s most controversial diets. Celebrities and pop culture increasingly rave about low carbohydrate eating.  Yet, others are warning of dire consequences. This includes healthcare professionals and organizations such as the American Heart Association.

Surprisingly, the ketogenic diet is not new.

In fact, it has been used for over 100 years to treat childhood epilepsy. Significantly, this diet can reduce or stop seizures in many whose epilepsy resisted modern treatments. Numerous medications and even surgery had failed to control seizures for these children and adults.   Luckily, the medical ketogenic diet can reduce or stop seizures in many whose epilepsy resisted modern treatments.

Popularity brought many different versions of keto

These proven results brought popularity, which brought more versions of the “ketogenic diet.” Pop culture and the media have turned low carbohydrate eating into a weight loss trend. This popularity has brought great recipes and useful meal plans. Unfortunately, it has also brought unreliable and false information.  

Ketogenic Diet Variations  

  • Classic Ketogenic Diet – 4:1 or 3:1 ratio of fat grams: protein + carb grams.  
  • Fasting and Intermittent Fasting
  • MCT Ketogenic Diet (medium chain triglycerides)

Medical Ketogenic Diet

The version of the Keto diet that appears to work for serious psychiatric disorders is the strict medical version (3:1 or 4:1 ratio), the same one used in treating pediatric epilepsy.  This version of the diet should be medically prescribed and monitored, as it is very difficult to do and has serious risks, as well as potential benefits.  Levels of ketones, glucose, and body weight all impact the effectiveness of the diet. Additionally, medications often need to be adjusted, as new side effects can emerge when people are in ketosis, and some medications can interfere with the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet by increasing blood glucose levels and preventing ketosis, so they may need to be safely reduced or stopped. Adjusting psychiatric medications can sometimes be very dangerous, and should only be done with medication supervision and monitoring.  Finally, when starting the ketogenic diet, people can experience hypoglycemia, low blood pressure, weakness, dizziness, and other worrisome symptoms, which all need to be monitored and safely managed by a skilled medical team.

Different variations of the ketogenic diet produce different medical benefits.

This variation in benefits is especially true for those using a keto diet to treat medical conditions. Distinguishing between trustworthy and untrustworthy sources of information can be difficult.  Luckily, many of us in the medical community are dedicated to using the best medical science to implement this diet. We are conducting research to better understand the ketogenic diet.
  • What is it doing to the body?
  • What are its potential health-giving and disease-fighting properties?
  • How do individual diseases and disorders respond differently to variations of the ketogenic diet?

The list of possible medical indictions for this diet keeps expanding. For example:

My blogs provide an evidence-based discussion of how the ketogenic diet may help these different disorders. Links to other ketogenic organizations are under “Articles” in Information & Resources.

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