It feels like the glue to finally hold everything else together. And when I say, “everything else” I mean everything else, especially all of the research up to this point.
Anytime someone I care about is dealing with a serious health condition I begin to feverishly research anything that might help deal with it in a natural, non-toxic way. This happened last year when a beloved relative was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. It was completely unexpected and is known to be quite aggressive so I had precious little time to research. Despite the urgency and the short period of time I had for research it seems it is during these times that I acquire the most information on a given subject.
I didn’t actually plan on blogging about the ketogenic diet considering there are so many other topics to discuss and the ketogenic diet is being discussed all over the Internet these days. It has become a pretty hot topic and, as you will soon find out, this is a wonderful thing. Still, everyone’s experience is different and I think it’s always good to hear it from someone you know and from a different perspective. If I am able to impact even one person then I will have done something great.
I first heard of the ketogenic diet several years ago. Who knows what I was researching when I came upon it, but needless to say although it sounded interesting I did not pay much attention to it at the time. About the only things I determined were that getting into ketosis seemed difficult but it would help lose weight. Ho hum.
It wasn’t until the most recent health scare in my family that led me to finding it again. I began researching natural treatments for brain tumors and I found that the ketogenic diet is one of the few things that actually works to help shrink tumors, not only brain tumors but also all tumors and even reverses other cancers. This is when it really got my attention.
When it comes to researching natural treatment methods, whatever they may be, I’ve found it necessary to study the science behind it. While some journal articles can be quite technical even for my scientific-based mind, I still believe there is much to be gleaned by reading the articles – and reading between the lines of those articles. This, along with my own common sense and intuition tends to give me the best information with the best explanation as to the way things work.
That being said, it is important to understand the KD, what its uses have been, and how it works. The KD has been used for nearly a century to treat severe cases of epilepsy, particularly in children. Understanding the mainstream you might imagine that the diet is not prescribed until the medications no longer work and he or she is sent home to die or if the patient’s condition is resistant to the drugs or he or she experiences severe side effects. Go figure, right? Let’s use the non-toxic, natural treatment that is known to work after we’ve put the child through hell using toxic medications that never even really worked anyway. Thus is the logic of our healthcare system. Needless (or needful) to say, the diet has helped countless people who suffer from seizures to quit medication altogether and has, for some, given them complete relief.
Many mainstream doctors and researchers are finally on board with the KD for countless other uses. Dr. David Perlmutter, a popular neurologist, uses it to treat all forms of neurological disorders and has found it to stop, slow, or even reverse the progression of certain illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and even Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Many endocrinologists and nephrologists are now using it to reverse and completely rid people of Type 2 Diabetes while general practitioners are using it to help obese patients lose significant amounts of weight while normalizing blood pressure and cholesterol levels. These medical doctors are finally realizing what many naturopathic and natural doctors as well as chiropractors have known for decades. It’s too bad it takes “medical doctors” (whose only difference is that they know little of nutrition and all of pharmaceuticals) to discuss them before most people will actually look into it for themselves. But, as far as I’m concerned at this point, at least people are finally looking into it!
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More recently researchers have seen incredible potential in the treatment of all sorts of cancers and tumors, even, or maybe especially, the worst types. Patients who have either been prescribed the diet or have taken it upon themselves to do the diet on their own in conjunction with other natural treatments have had great success in being healed of horrific brain tumors and metastasized cancers throughout their bodies. All in all the diet almost sounds too good to be true…until you understand how and why it works.
Without getting too technical so I can cut to the chase and start chronicling my own journey, let me try to explain why it works. It was only fairly recently that humans have had access to such an abundance of food. More than that, it is only recently that we have had access to the processed foods, low-fat craze, sugar in everything, sugar all the time, a starchy carbohydrate with every meal and throughout the day, and eating all day long.
It makes perfect sense, really, if you think about it. The mainstream medical industry (yes, “industry”, and it is a highly lucrative one at that) has no cures for anything. As I recently heard in a YouTube interview, the mainstream doctors can’t even cure heartburn, how could we expect them to cure cancer? The FDA approves even the most toxic of medications and treatments which are known to cause worse diseases and even kill people yet they are also putting naturopathic doctors and medical doctors in jail who would dare buck the system and prescribe something that is not “FDA approved” but completely harmless and in most cases extremely helpful. In the meantime people are getting sicker and sicker, and fatter and fatter. What gives?
While many people might blame those who are overweight for “overindulging” or whatever, I have a different view. I see them as following “approved” guidelines and subsequently developing very difficult to kick sugar and carb addictions to the point where their weight becomes unmanageable, they become depressed, and just give up. Is this okay? From a societal point of view, it is absolutely not. From a personal perspective, how could I blame them? They didn’t get that way overnight nor did they get that way totally on their own.
I was never one of those “skinny” girls with a cute little cheerleader figure. I always felt I had an awkward figure. I wasn’t really big but, at the same time, I always had enough body fat on me to be self-conscious. Maybe it was society’s fault for shoving tiny little celebrities in my face when I was too young to be comfortable in my own skin. Maybe the people around me didn’t help by calling me “brute”. Aye! Whatever it was, I knew I couldn’t ever just rest on my laurels. I wasn’t satisfied. As a result I began exercising at around 17 or 18; nothing intense, just some jazzercise and aerobics. I was never into sports and therefore any real activity had to be done on my own.
By the time I was in college I was into weightlifting and exercise, which included daily cardio for about 30 minutes. I was looking pretty good. I always had a little “pudge” on me but it was fine. Was I satisfied? No, but oh well. I wasn’t into completely depriving myself of things I loved. In the meantime, all the while during my mid to late teens and early twenties, I had acne – really bad acne. I always thought it was just my fate and, beyond taking antibiotics and doing Retin-A, there was really nothing I could do about it. Oh, should I have known then what I know now! Little did I know it was directly correlated with my diet… and I don’t mean having the occasional chocolate or eating piñon nuts (the beloved nut native to Northern New Mexico – at least since it was brought here by the Spanish in the 1600s). How many 20-somethings, let alone teen-somethings, are thinking about health? All I really cared about was my body and chalked up the acne to bad luck. Eesh. Besides, I was in college. I was lucky to get Taco Bell as a treat sometimes.
Why am I telling you this story? Because I remember the cute little figures of some of the girls I knew in high school and, with the exception of a couple who were always into fitness, most of them blew up to be very big. I honestly have always believed this was because back then it was effortless for them to be thin. They could eat anything they wanted and they would stay thin. They didn’t have to exercise. For those of us who had to watch our calories and incorporate fitness to not gain weight it has been a lifestyle for many years and it is a habit not easily – nor desirably – broken (good thing for me). Likewise, when you never had to work on your appearance, fitness and watching what you eat is a habit not easily created.
But, what about those girls? In their 30s and 40s they are struggling with their weight, and if they get into their 50s and 60s without success at having lost weight they are either obese or teetering dangerously near the obesity level. The older they get before working on the weight (successfully, that is) the more they realize that even trying to exercise now barely works for them. They’re cutting calories and eating “low-fat” like the “experts” are saying they should do. Some are even trying to cut sugar out wherever they can and while some have found some lasting success most are failing and generally the weight loss does not necessarily even equate to better health. The saddest part about it is that they’re giving up. They’ll find some cool diet, like the Atkins or South Beach diet, and lose some good weight only for it to come back with a vengeance. My question now was it ever really their fault? Did they fail themselves or did society fail them? Or worse, was it the very same healthcare system that keeps telling them they must lose weight that actually failed them by following the mainstream, “FDA” party line? I believe it’s the latter.
Now that I know the truth, let me tell you, my perspective is changing rapidly. Most nutritionists and dieticians will say, “just incorporate exercise and cut your calories” but you have to seriously pay attention to the calories, even keeping journals on a daily basis. Hugely successful companies have been born from the vanity and in some cases health-consciousness of, mainly, women, by helping them to lose weight through meal-planning, meal preparation, and even counseling. This works for some but many find that once they cease going to the meetings and paying their fees they’re right back where they started…and thousands of dollars later. The restrictions can be horrendous. Without the constant emotional support and counseling it is nearly impossible to maintain. Between eating foods that are likely not all that tasty and probably feeling hungry (yes, this is an assumption, so if you’ve had a different experience forget what I’m saying here), who would want to be on that kind of diet forever? It’s doomed to fail.
Knowing what I know now, which is a very newfound knowledge, I believe we’ve all been duped big time by the system we were raised and taught to trust with our lives. What does weight loss and weight gain even have to do with health and, especially, our cancer health crisis? Well, it appears it has absolutely everything to do with it, at least in terms of the diet we’ve all been programmed to follow. The craziest part is that even “fit” people who have never struggled with weight but are also following the standard recommended diet are also at risk of serious health issues.
So what is the ketogenic diet? Why does it work to reverse so many illnesses? And why is it so effective for weight loss? Here’s the short of it: Our bodies are designed to metabolize both glucose and ketones. Over the past several decades we have essentially trained our bodies to only metabolize glucose, mainly because we are in a constant feeding frenzy and we’ve “been told” that the bulk of our diets should be whole grains. On top of that we’ve been told we should be eating “five small meals a day” and, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Wow, what a crock of crap. Sorry, but it is, and at one time I bought it all…hook, line, and sinker.
As it turns out, our cells are “metabolically flexible.” As I previously stated, they are designed to burn either glucose or ketones. Ketones are derived from fat – either fat in the diet or fat in the body. Indeed our ancestors, and those not too long ago either, functioned mainly off ketones. They did not have the abundance we do today and, moreover, unless they were part of the wealthy class they ate sweets very sparingly and even animal protein was not in total abundance. In order to be satiated they chose higher fat meats and when they butchered an animal they used the entire animal. Nothing was wasted. They saved the fat for cooking and even made blood sausage with the blood. They did not have the luxury of waste.
On top of this, they did not have grocery stores around every corner with shelves stocked with aisles upon aisles of processed (but very tasty) junk foods. And, by the way, all processed foods are junk. Even if they claim to have some nutrients in them they are always doing a number on your physical body. Dehydrated kale, anyone? Just kidding. Actually, that, along with seaweed snacks are probably about the only “processed” foods you can trust but that is because they are very minimally processed and likely just dehydrated.
So, what has happened? Our bodies have become so accustomed to not only sugar (dessert with every meal for many people, sodas everyday, etc.) but they are also dependent on carbohydrates of all sorts. Our meal pairings have become mainstay. You cannot have shrimp Alfredo without the pasta, or hamburger without the bun – or French fries (yum! French fries!!), or tacos without the shell, etc. etc.. You catch my drift. On top of this people rarely do any kind of fast or cleanse, for health, religion, or otherwise. Most people couldn’t imagine sacrificing all the yummy, tasty foods for any period of time. Why should we? It’s in abundance and, besides, the government – who we know only, ahem, cares about our well being, keeps telling us we need to be eating grains more than anything else.
Guess what this is doing to us? Not only is it making most of us fat but also it is making us very, very sick. It is well known that our brains thrive on ketones yet they get very little, if ever, and the general public is rarely in the constant state of therapeutic ketosis for any given amount of time so whatever ketones we feed our brains are negligible. Even when our bodies look “fit” and healthy, if we are never in ketosis we are headed down a slippery slope. In fact, we might be in even more danger of long-term consequences because we think we are healthy. We might not have the wake-up call that sometimes only the mirror or the scale can give.
Why is ketosis so good for the body and how does it help you lose weight? This is so fascinating! Because sugars, carbs, and even protein, convert to glucose our bodies’ metabolisms are only using glucose as fuel. Excess glucose not only becomes fat (this is the body’s way of saving for a rainy day that never comes) but it also causes insulin spikes and poor regulation of energy throughout the day. On top of this, cancerous or tumor cells are only able to feed off glucose. This means the more carbs you eat the more you are feeding those cells. These gluttonous cells just grow and grow, and multiply and multiply, because the more they grow the more they need. As a result, if you have any cancerous cells in your body (which we all do, it’s a fact of life), you’re essentially just feeding them and the rest of your body is getting scraps.
Cancerous cells, as indestructible as they seem are actually quite stupid and primitive. In fact they are only capable of metabolizing glucose as fuel whereas healthy cells, especially brain cells (which, in my view, are the most important cells in the body) have the flexibility to switch their metabolism to use ketones as fuel. It results in a much “cleaner” energy. Once in ketosis, which takes time to get into – a topic for the next blog post, your body is not waiting for its next meal for energy, it’s using your fat stores therefore you have more constant energy throughout the day without getting those afternoon crashes (as I had been feeling for the past several months). Because this is the preferred fuel of the brain you have much greater clarity and cognitive function. With regards to your bodily functions the mechanism on insulin allows for a much lower blood glucose level – obviously – and therefore all of the ill-effects that come from having high blood sugar, as well as those insulin spikes normalize. Cholesterol levels normalize, blood pressure normalizes, and you become much more efficient in terms of utilizing the nutrients you get from eating or supplementation.
On top of all of this your weight normalizes, which we all appreciate. In fact, many personal trainers and fitness experts are turning to the KD for long-term, sustainable weight management for themselves as well as their clients. Hot dog, I finally think I can truly help people now with my holistic coaching!
Okay, so now that you know what it is, next post I will begin chronicling my own journey and what I believe is happening within my body. I’m so excited to share this with you. In the meantime, do as many searches on YouTube for the KD so you understand it better. Aim for the videos by or interviews with mainstream medical doctors because they will be able to get you started on truly understanding why it is so beneficial.
Here is a list to get you started. I will provide more resources as time progresses. This should keep you busy.
What are you health/life goals? Ask me how holistic coaching can help you by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org