In which cases the ketogenic diet is good for health

from Andrea Ghiselli

The opinion of the doctor is always essential. Clinical studies do not at all show that very low carbohydrate diets are more effective, in the long term, than other approaches, for example in weight reduction.

We often hear about the ketogenic diet: I would like to know what are the characteristics of this diet and if it can offer any benefit to those, like me, suffering from coronary heart disease. I also suffer from dyslipidemia.

He answers Andrea Ghisellipresident of the Italian Society of Food Sciences (GO TO THE FORUM)

The indispensable premise, before an answer, that it must be your doctor to indicate whether, in the specific case, this diet can be indicated or not and I explain the reasons a few lines below. I would like to remind you that the opinion of the doctor is always essential to undertake a dietotherapeutic path, because only those who know the patient’s clinical picture, lifestyle and possible therapy can indicate which treatment is the best. Ketogenic diets (or keto) are born for other reasons: they are in fact capable of reduce the frequency of seizures in individuals with drug-resistant epilepsy and therefore in these cases they are indicated, but only after no results have been obtained with adequate drug therapy. They are now very much in vogue, even too much, for weight reduction, although clinical studies do not show at all that very low carbohydrate diets are more effective, in the long term, than other approaches. Such diets are also capable of reduce blood sugar levelsalthough this effect is generally only momentary and tends to diminish over time.

Raise your cholesterol

Besides some advantages, such as those mentioned above, diets of this type also have several disadvantages, especially for cardiovascular diseases. For instance they can increase LDL cholesterol values, sometimes dramatically, and it is the type of cholesterol that we should instead try to keep at very low values. Pregnant women (probably not your case) who follow such diets are more likely to giving birth to children with neural tube defects, even if they take the necessary folic acid supplements. Also these diets can increase the risk of chronic diseases (including ischemic heart disease), not so much because they are ketogenic (that is, because they produce ketone bodies), but because to obtain a diet low in carbohydrates, we resort to foods that are very high in fat and low in fibersuch as meats (especially red), cold cuts, eggs.

The risks of animal fats

The slightly too generous use of animal fats correlates with an increased risk of various pathological conditions which include chronic kidney failure, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease. At the same time, there are no protective effects of those foods that are excluded from ketogenic drugs, such as fruit or whole grains. To be fair, ketogenic diets can also be done by resorting to specially formulated products and therefore not too salty or rich in saturated fat, but in that case the contraindication could concern the wallet. However – and I return to the initial preamble – only your doctor can judge if a short course of ketogenic could be useful, maybe to make her lose a few pounds or to improve insulin resistance. In general, ketogenic diets have more disadvantages than advantages, but this does not exclude that, in cases carefully selected by the doctor, they can be useful, under strict control and perhaps for short periods of time.

April 30, 2022 (change April 30, 2022 | 12:07 pm)

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In which cases the ketogenic diet is good for health

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