What is the keto diet? Simply stated, the keto diet emphasizes fats in favor of carbs for energy. For such a trendy diet, it has surprisingly old roots, and it all started with epilepsy.
The Keto diet with additions.
Source: Scott Anderson
Hippocrates knew he could cure epilepsy with fasting. But it was ultimately discovered that you don’t need to stop eating everything to alleviate seizures; just cutting out carbs is sufficient. You can eat as much fat as you can handle without increasing epileptic seizures.
By the 1920s a high-fat, low-carb diet was regularly used to treat epilepsy in children. Although anti-convulsant drugs are now the most common way to treat seizures, the keto diet is still used by people who are resistant to the drugs or who simply prefer a more natural solution. At least half of epileptic patients are helped by a keto diet, sometimes dramatically. So, as weird as it sounds, convulsions in the brain are affected by carbs in your diet—another astonishing example of the gut-brain axis in action.
Not just for epilepsy
Today, the keto diet is more popular for helping with metabolic syndrome, a collection of nasty conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol. Metabolic syndrome puts you on the road to type 2 diabetes and obesity, or so-called diabesity. It also carries an increased risk of depression and anxiety.
High blood sugar is often attributed to insulin resistance: an inability to process glucose properly. Sugars build up in the blood and can become toxic to every organ in the body. Insulin’s job is to chaperone sugars into your cells for energy, but if dietary sugar swamps the system, insulin reroutes it to fat cells, paradoxically leaving the rest of your cells starving. That leads to both fat buildup and hunger, a one-two punch for weight gain and diabetes. Eliminating sugars and starch can be a life-saver.
But without carbs, where does your body get its energy? Like a hybrid car, your body can run on multiple fuels – including fat. When it does, the liver produces fatty acids called ketones that can power metabolism as well as sugar does. The brain, which…