It seems like almost everyone is trying the keto diet, and there are many stories of rapid weight loss out there. But we wondered about eating all that fat – most keto diet regimens recommend you get 80 percent of your calories from fat – is that healthy for your heart?
The answer is, it’s complicated. A new report published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology concludes that ketone bodies can help protect the heart in people with cardiovascular disease.The scientists researched by reviewing multiple studies. The researchers suggested that using exogenous ketones or ketone supplements could be an alternative to a ketogenic diet. They also said more studies should be done to assess the impact of using ketones on people at risk of cardiovascular disease.
Ketones vs. keto diet
Experts say there is growing evidence ketones can have a therapeutic effect, but how you get them matters.Really what this paper is showing is that a by-product of the ketogenic diet, ketone bodies, which can come from other means, are beneficial. They can reduce inflammation, reduce oxidative stress, and may be beneficial to the lining of the blood vessels.It has been known for a long period of time that ketone bodies seem to exert some positive health effects.
Possible Heart-Healthy Benefits of the Keto Diet?
The heart’s scourge is inflammation, which injures arteries. Many times, the cause of inflammation is elevated blood sugar. What’s more, a keto diet may help lower blood sugar and improve insulin function and can be anti-inflammatory. Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. The keto dietis effective for weight loss in people who have obesity, and it may lower blood pressure and blood sugar, favourably affect lipid levels, and reduce insulin resistance in the short term.
However, they have major reservations about the fact that saturated fats and animal products are allowed, which are known to increase heart disease risk, and a restrictive diet like keto may prompt people to over consume these foods. But human studies have shown mixed results about whether the keto diet increases or decreases insulin resistance or insulin sensitivity. And while people may lose weight on keto, the key is maintaining that loss, and that’s not a given.
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The researchers also note that there isn’t a strict definition of keto across the board that studies are using, so it’s tough to even know if the participants reached ketosis in the first place.
There is a lot of talk about the dangers of eating sugar when it comes to your heart.Indeed, eating a diet high in sugars can lead to insulin resistance, weight gain, and (down the line) metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of heart disease. It was in the ’80s and ’90s that some touted going low or no fat, she says, but then a funny thing happened: People gained weight because they were eating more carbs and sugar.
The Popularity of keto
Today, with the popularity of keto, the pendulum has swung in the other extreme direction, into high fat and very low carb. Heart disease development is based on multiple factors, including blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, family history, smoking, and stress. Your diet, while important, is just a piece of the story. Ultimately, it’s not about keto. It’s not about eating sugar. People may want to follow this diet because it makes them feel in control, but nothing is such a quick fix. It’s just not that simple.
Don’t rely on keto to prevent heart disease or treat existing heart disease. If you’re at risk, go on a keto diet only under the supervision of your doctor or cardiologist, especially if you have a family history of the disease, which, in that case, may mean a keto diet could be dangerous.
At this point, the data on ketosis and cardiovascular disease are promising, but not quite ready for prime time. Many trials are ongoing in this space, but ultimately larger trials across hundreds of patients in each of these diseases will be needed to firmly establish the role of therapeutic ketosis, obtained either by a ketogenic diet or ingesting ketogenic products.
We need to figure out how to get people to a therapeutic ketone body development in a way that’s safer than the ketogenic diet, which is associated with a whole bunch of harms. That’s especially true in the patient with heart disease.
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