These affect your brain and spine, as well as the nerves that link them together. Epilepsy is one, but others may be helped by a ketogenic diet as well, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and sleep disorders. Scientists aren’t sure why, but it may be that the ketones your body makes when it breaks down fat for energy help protect your brain cells from damage.
Once upon a time, keto was the original “diabetes diet” prescribed to type 1 diabetes patients before the advent of insulin, as this would prolong their lives as it has less of an impact on blood sugar levels. More recently, Doctor Bernstein has popularized the keto diet for people living with diabetes in his book: Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars
Hi, Esther! Thank you so much for your kind comment. I am so glad you found The Mediterranean Dish and hope you’ll enjoy cooking some of the recipes here! I should preface my answer here by saying that I am not a dietitian or a nutritionist, what I share here is mainly from my experience as someone who grew up in the Mediterranean area and have continued to eat the Mediterranean way now as an adult living in the USA. So please always check with your health care provider or a registered dietitian if you are looking for professional advice or a specific diet plan to follow. But I’ll answer your questions as best as I know how.
DASH stands for "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension." The diet was developed out of a study by the National Institutes of Health after researchers noticed that vegetarians tended to have lower rates of high blood pressure. Understanding that sodium intake affected blood pressure, researchers also believed that these levels may also be impacted by other nutrients in plant-based diets.
The DASH diet was created when researchers were looking for ways to effectively reduce hypertension, but this was over 20 years ago! Though it’s still often marketed as a treatment for high blood pressure, the DASH eating plan is really an ideal way to eat for overall health, weight maintenance, and chronic disease prevention. In fact, studies suggest that DASH lowers risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and some cancers.
As far as the Ketogenic Diet is concerned, I think I am going to have to make a full about-face. As you said, for some people like yourself, you were unable to eat in moderation and feel it is due to your genetic makeup. This is probably true…to add insult to injury, in addition to genetics, it could also be an inflammatory process going on due to the sugary drinks and processed foods we are eating causing obesity and a host of other issues.
My principal hope in this article is to provide journalists with a resource to do what basic journalism demands, namely to ensure that stories are scientifically balanced and accurate. At the end of this post I provide contacts for some of the credentialed experts who helped me compile this research. Reporters, please seek out these or other low-carb diet experts so you can provide accurate, up-to-date information for your readers.
We do recommend everyone eat something every 4-5 hours to maintain a healthy metabolism. If your meals are more than 4-5 hours apart, a snack consisting of a protein and a carbohydrate is a great choice. The protein will help fill you up quicker and keep you feeling satisfied between meals. The protein also has a slower effect on your blood glucose than most carbohydrates, so when paired with carbohydrates, your blood sugar will not spike nearly as high. We recommend eating a protein with every meal and snack.
Wondering what fits into a keto diet — and what doesn’t? “It’s so important to know what foods you’ll be eating before you start, and how to incorporate more fats into your diet,” says Kristen Mancinelli, RD, author of The Ketogenic Diet: A Scientifically Proven Approach to Fast, Healthy Weight Loss, who is based in New York City. We asked her for some guidelines.
And while the diet wasn't designed with weight loss as a primary goal, it's no secret that many of the nutritional factors that influence blood pressure also influence weight, she says. Think: processed foods, trans fats, and excess sugar. According to one DASH study, adults who who followed the diet lost more weight in a span of eight to 24 weeks than those adhering to other low-calorie diets. (Kick-start your new, healthy routine with The Woman's Guide to Strength Training!)
What the diet advocate says: 'The key components of a Mediterranean diet are lots of vegetables, olive oil, oily fish and nuts, with no calorie restrictions. Combine that with cutting down on sugar, which was traditionally a rarity in the region, and you’ve got the base of the Mediterranean diet right. And if you get the base right you can eat a little of whatever else you like,' says Consultant Cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra.
The food options available on the DASH diet closely mirror the eating plan recommended in the US Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate, with a focus on whole foods, such as fruit and veggies; fat-free or low-fat dairy; whole grains; and lean meats, like fish and poultry. (3) Meanwhile, the plan requires cutting back on, or preferably eliminating, processed foods, like sugary drinks and packaged snacks, and limiting red meat, which in excess has been linked to poorer heart health and heart failure, according to a study published in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases. (4)
Stock up: Jet.com's new City Grocery service (available in select markets) makes it easy to ensure you always have keto-friendly veggies in the fridge. We love their delivery scheduling tool; simply fill your cart, then decide which day and timeframe you'd like your groceries delivered. One of our faves: Urban Roots Green Squash Veggie Noodles are great for whipping up low-carb "pasta" dishes.
Roussell recommends closely tracking your progress, so you don’t lose motivation. "If you track progress in a detailed way, you'll notice change happening. Measure data points like your chest, waist, arm size, and body-fat percentage with a tape measure—it’s possible that you can stay the same weight, but lose inches off your waist and other areas as your body tones and tightens,” he explains. “Don’t expect to lose two pounds per week every single week until you reach your goal."
Two years in and I am this exact same story. I do agree that if one is not insulin resistant or diabetic and has normal insulin response there are other less restrictive diets that will work. I would also add that people fail and drop out of almost EVERY diet program for one reason or another so that argument is null and void. I am under a doctor’s care and am healthier than I have been in years. My only dietary “sin” is artificial sweeteners and I am not looking back! I have not cheated at all on high carb foods and am rarely even tempted. It is doable if your motivation is there and you have support which is true for any kind of life altering decision.
I was diagnosed in 2004 with Brittle Type 1 diabetes, peripheral and autonomic neuropathy, and Hypothyroidism. A short time later with Gastroparesis due to the nerve damage from diabetes. Since then, I had followed every guideline and rule that the Endocrinologist and Primary Care Doctors had told me to follow. NOTHING WAS GETTING BETTER. In fact, I was gradually getting worse. So many ups and downs. Extreme highs (250-500 bgl ) to seizures from crashes (drop from 300 to 13 in no time). It was a constant battle with adjustments in insulin intake (and different insulins NPH, R, Novolog, Humalog, Lantus), carb intake, exercise and one contributing factor was the Gastroparesis. Meds were taken for the Gastroparesis but I always had side effects from meds. To my point. I was kicking a dead horse and I told them this. My sister and mom had come across the ketogenic way of eating and it dramatically improved thier lives. Mom was diagnosed way back with Type 2 and within a week or two she was off of her meds completely. I was totally interested. So, I decided to go for it on April 17, 2017. I did go through some rough patches of what they call Keto Flu. It did pass after a couple weeks. I was gaining so much energy like never before as well as mental focus. The even greater aspect of this all was, I had DRAMATICALLY LOWERED MY INSULIN INTAKE TO ALMOST NONE! My Lantus was always being adjusted from 30-40 units daily (and changed from AM to PM to splitting it to half AM, other half PM). I was on a sliding scale of Humalog or Novolog. From 4-6 units per meal and then there were the corrections throughout my day (some daily totals could be up to 40 UNITS)! Very exciting for me to only take 2 units of Lantus in the AM and daily totals of Humalog/Novolog….1.5-3 units! Other great things I began to notice, neuropathy pains were fading and finally GONE. No more nights up stinging, burning and RLS (restless leg syndrome). So, in my life, there are no questions or hardships on whether I can get off of this way of eating. It’s either do or die. If someone truly wants to have a better life, they can. The sad thing is, doctors and nutritionists aren’t being educated in the real facts. My primary care doctor isn’t willing to help me with all the labs I need nor listen. Always telling me “You need carbohydrates and insulin to live.” All that know me see the dramatic change for the better. I’m doing the Ketogenic way of eating with intermittent fasting for the rest of my life. The alternative IS NOT WORTH a lifetime of illnesses and suffering.
Pros: Compared to eating a traditional diet, switching to a low-carb diet can significantly reduce body fat, studies show. Cap your carb intake at 20% of daily calories and the weight-loss results are even stronger—plus, you can reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Some research suggests low-carb diets are even better than low-fat diets: One study in Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who limited their carbs lost eight more pounds than those who cut back on fat. If you cut back on carbs enough, your body learns to burn fat as fuel instead. Studies are mixed on how low-carb diets affect performance, but some evidence suggests that endurance performance can actually improve among people whose bodies adapt to fat-burning fairly easily.
The Keto diet versus Plate Method study triggered some challenges and a bit of criticism. In an editorial, Andrew Reynolds, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Otago, New Zealand, suggests that the much better results in those on the ketogenic diet may be due not to the diet itself but to the lifestyle changes and ongoing support that keto diet group received.5
In 1921, Rollin Turner Woodyatt reviewed the research on diet and diabetes. He reported that three water-soluble compounds, β-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate and acetone (known collectively as ketone bodies), were produced by the liver in otherwise healthy people when they were starved or if they consumed a very low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. Dr. Russell Morse Wilder, at the Mayo Clinic, built on this research and coined the term ketogenic diet to describe a diet that produced a high level of ketone bodies in the blood (ketonemia) through an excess of fat and lack of carbohydrate. Wilder hoped to obtain the benefits of fasting in a dietary therapy that could be maintained indefinitely. His trial on a few epilepsy patients in 1921 was the first use of the ketogenic diet as a treatment for epilepsy.
Today, make half of this GH exclusive Mediterranean Grilled Sea Bass recipe and reserve half of that for Thursday lunch. Increase your vegetable intake by serving half a bag of baby arugula leaves with this meal (save the other half for Thursday). Serve with one ear of corn and 1 cup cooked sugar snap peas topped with 2 teaspoons trans-fat-free light margarine. For dessert, have one frozen fruit juice bar (limit 80 calories for the bar).
A keto diet has shown to improve triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels most associated with arterial buildup. More specifically low-carb, high-fat diets show a dramatic increase in HDL and decrease in LDL particle concentration compared to low-fat diets.3A study in the long-term effects of a ketogenic diet shows a significant reduction in cholesterol levels, body weight, and blood glucose. Read more on keto and cholesterol >
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: fat is your friend! To be more specific, healthy fats will be your weight loss friends. Consider adding extra virgin olive oil to your diet and you might see the scale start to tip in your favor. One Journal of Women’s Health study discovered that an EVOO-enriched diet helped participants lose more weight than those on a low-fat diet. Like peanuts and avocados, extra virgin olive oil’s belly-blasting abilities are thought to be a result of the monounsaturated fats it contains.
I have been a type 1 diabetic for most of my life. I live a very active lifestyle of long distance running and hiking. I’ve always had a very healthy diet, but would still have those after meal blood sugar spikes that would leave me feeling unwell. I decided to try the keto diet to see how my blood sugar did It’s been amazing. I’ve cut my insulin in half and my head is clear. I no longer have the brain fog. I sleep better and have more energy. I have been doing it for a year and have no desire to go off of it.
It reduces risk of disease. A growing number of studies suggest that people who follow a Mediterranean diet are less likely to die of heart disease than people who follow a typical American diet. (1) What’s more, evidence is emerging that shows people who eat this way have a lower risk of colon cancer, prostate cancer, and some head and neck cancers, according to studies published in September 2016 in the British Journal of Cancer and in February 2018 in the Journal of Urology. (27,28,29)
A study with an intent-to-treat prospective design was published in 1998 by a team from the Johns Hopkins Hospital and followed-up by a report published in 2001. As with most studies of the ketogenic diet, there was no control group (patients who did not receive the treatment). The study enrolled 150 children. After three months, 83% of them were still on the diet, 26% had experienced a good reduction in seizures, 31% had had an excellent reduction and 3% were seizure-free.[Note 7] At twelve months, 55% were still on the diet, 23% had a good response, 20% had an excellent response and 7% were seizure-free. Those who had discontinued the diet by this stage did so because it was ineffective, too restrictive or due to illness, and most of those who remained were benefiting from it. The percentage of those still on the diet at two, three and four years was 39%, 20% and 12% respectively. During this period the most common reason for discontinuing the diet was because the children had become seizure-free or significantly better. At four years, 16% of the original 150 children had a good reduction in seizure frequency, 14% had an excellent reduction and 13% were seizure-free, though these figures include many who were no longer on the diet. Those remaining on the diet after this duration were typically not seizure-free but had had an excellent response.
Hi Barb, That can definitely be it. Losing when you are close to goal can be more difficult. It could also be that your body’s healthy weight is a little higher than what you’d like – which doesn’t mean you can’t lose, but makes it more difficult. If just eating Keto foods isn’t working, double check the macros for your weight and see if the amount you’re eating needs to be adjusted. You’ll find more help and support in our support group here.
What the expert says: ‘Paleo does promote the consumption of fresh ingredients over salty, processed meats. It also advocates a high consumption of fruit and vegetables, which is no bad thing. Research published in the journal Nature suggests that following this kind of diet can improve blood pressure, insulin resistance and cholesterol levels. That said, it is incredibly restrictive, and cutting out dairy, cereal foods and starchy carbohydrates will likely leave you low on fibre, calcium and iodine.’
Numerous studies show wide-ranging health benefits of the DASH diet. A consistent body of research has found that DASH lowers blood pressure in people with high blood pressure but also normal blood pressure even without lowering sodium intake.  It can produce greater reductions in blood pressure if sodium is restricted to less than 2300 mg a day, and even more so with a 1500 mg sodium restriction. [5, 6] When compared with a standard American diet (e.g., high intake of red and processed meats, beverages sweetened with sugar, sweets, refined grains) DASH has also been found to lower serum uric acid levels in people with hyperuricemia, which places them at risk for a painful inflammatory condition called gout.  Because people with gout often also have high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases, DASH is optimal in improving all of these conditions.
The improvement in glycemic control occurred while medications for diabetes were discontinued or reduced in most participants (Table (Table5).5). During the study, hypertension and hyperlipidemia medication doses were not increased from baseline nor were new agents added, except in 3 individuals. No serious adverse effects related to the diet occurred. One participant had a hypoglycemic episode requiring assistance from emergency services after he skipped a meal but the episode was aborted without need for transportation to the emergency room or hospitalization.
Selecting the right food will be easier as you become accustomed to the Keto approach. Instead of lean meats, you’ll focus on skin-on poultry, fattier parts like chicken thighs, rib-eye steaks, grass-fed ground beef, fattier fish like salmon, beef brisket or pork shoulder, and bacon. Leafy greens such as spinach, kale and lettuce, along with broccoli, cauliflower and cucumbers, make healthy vegetable choices (but you’ll avoid starchy root foods like carrots, potatoes, turnips and parsnips). You can work in less-familiar veggies such as kohlrabi or daikon.