Some doctors are skeptical of the ketogenic diets because they fear a lethal metabolic condition typical for diabetics, ketoacidosis.
When the body accumulates a high quantity of keton bodies, the pH of the blood decreases drastically. As the body tries to compensate for excessively acidic blood, bicarbonate levels fall, as do sodium and potassium. Nausea and vomiting are the first symptoms and, if not treated in time, ketoacidosis leads to a coma and results in fatality.
Unfortunately, this situation can occur in people who suffer from diabetes type 1, and this is the reason why they are advised not to follow a ketogenic diet.
On the other hand, the keto diet poses no risk to the general populous. In most cases, it induces a “light” ketosis:
Research suggests that ketosis could elongate lifespans (1); moreover, it indicated positive and therapeutic effects in several diseases, such as:
Obesity: ompared with other diets, the ketogenic diet suppresses hunger and is more efficient at burning belly fat (2).
Diabetes type 2: ketosis regulates and stimulates proper insulin production (3).
Polycystic ovary syndrome: hormone imbalances lead to insulin imbalances and it becomes hard to lose weight with hypo-caloric diets (4). Ketosis gives more results in a shorter time period.
Cardiovascular risk: ketosis improves HDL levels which is associated with better cardiovascular health (5).
Acne: as this condition is often associated with high insulin and androgens levels, the ketogenic diet might help to solve the problem (6).
Epilepsy: ketogenic diets have been used since the 1920s as a therapy for epilepsy and in some cases completely removed the need for medication (7).
Neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer and Parkinson's disease: ketone bodies, especially β-hydroxybutyrate, confer neuroprotection against cellular injuries caused by aging, inflammatory, and oxidant factors. It is plausible that neuroprotection results from enhanced neuronal energy reserves, which improves the ability of neurons to resist those injuries (8).
Cancer: tumor cells prefer glucose as a source of energy as they are unable to use fat efficiently like normal cells. The ketogenic diet starves tumor cells resulting in a better clinical treatment outcome (9).
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: it might alter the progression of the clinical and biological manifestations, but until now has only been proven on mice (10).
Headache: when people who suffer constantly from headaches begin the ketogenic diet, they have a noticeable positive difference. Headache episodes do not occur as long as they are in ketosis (11).
In addition to these major pathologies, a ketogenic diet can improve anxiety (12), difficulty concentrating (13), eczema (6), acid reflux, vaginal candidiasis, and sinusitis.
Ketosis (even low-level ketoneemia) can improve or even solve a number of serious diseases that fall into the top ten of the most common diseases in North America, but it's necessary to develop specific ketogenic protocols to each disease.
(1) Roberts, M. N., Wallace, M. A., Tomilov, A. A., Zhou, Z., Marcotte, G. R., Tran, D., … Lopez-Dominguez, J. A. (2017). A ketogenic diet extends longevity and healthspan in adult mice. Cell Metabolism, 26(3), 539–546.e5. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2017.08.005.
(2) Cappello, G., Franceschelli, A., Cappello, A., & De Luca, P. (2012). Ketogenic enteral nutrition as a treatment for obesity: short term and long term results from 19,000 patients. Nutrition & Metabolism, 9, 96. https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-7075-9-96.
(3) Ajala, O., English, P., & Pinkney, J. (2013). Systematic review and meta-analysis of different dietary approaches to the management of type 2 diabetes. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97(3), 505–516. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.112.042457.
(4) Moran, L. J., Hutchison, S. K., Norman, R. J., & Teede, H. J. (2011). Lifestyle changes in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (7), CD007506. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD007506.pub3.
(5) Paoli, A., Rubini, A., Volek, J. S., & Grimaldi, K. A. (2013). Beyond weight loss: a review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (Ketogenic) diets. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 67(8), 789–796. https://doi.org/10.1038/ejcn.2013.116.
(6) Pappas, A. (2009). The relationship of diet and acne. Dermato-Endocrinology, 1(5), 262–267.
(7) Barañano, K. W., & Hartman, A. L. (2008). The ketogenic diet: uses in epilepsy and other neurologic illnesses. Current Treatment Options in Neurology, 10(6), 410–419.
(8) Paoli, A., Bianco, A., Damiani, E., & Bosco, G. (2014). Ketogenic diet in neuromuscular and neurodegenerative diseases. BioMed Research International, 2014, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/474296.
(9) Weber, D. D., Aminazdeh-Gohari, S., & Kofler, B. (2018). Ketogenic diet in cancer therapy. Aging (Albany NY), 10(2), 164–165. https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.101382.
(10) Zhao, Z., Lange, D. J., Voustianiouk, A., MacGrogan, D., Ho, L., Suh, J., … Pasinetti, G. M. (2006). A ketogenic diet as a potential novel therapeutic intervention in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. BMC Neuroscience, 7(1), 29. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2202-7-29.
(11) Di Lorenzo, C., Currà, A., Sirianni, G., Coppola, G., Bracaglia, M., Cardillo, A., … Pierelli, F. (2014). Diet transiently improves migraine in two twin sisters: possible role of ketogenesis? Functional Neurology, 28(4), 305–308.
(12) Gangwisch, J. E., Hale, L., Garcia, L., Malaspina, D., Opler, M. G., Payne, M. E., … Lane, D. (2015). High glycemic index diet as a risk factor for depression: analyses from the Women’s Health Initiative. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 102(2), 454–463. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.114.103846.
(13) Murray, A. J., Knight, N. S., Cole, M. A., Cochlin, L. E., Carter, E., Tchabanenko, K., … Clarke, K. (2016). Novel ketone diet enhances physical and cognitive performance. FASEB Journal: Official Publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 30(12), 4021–4032. https://doi.org/10.1096/fj.201600773R.