Most of us are somewhat aware that a Ketogenic diet is based around eating good sources of healthy fats, quality proteins and reducing carbohydrates. Scientists and Physicians are constantly learning more and more about the benefits of a Ketogenic diet. (Any reason to justify eating bacon and avocados is a good enough reason for me) But why do patients suffering from MS, ALS, Epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease have an added reason to look into this diet? Heres why…
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
The cause of ALS is still unclear, however, what we do know about ALS is that the nerve cells that are connected to the brain, do not make enough energy. Over time, this causes many serious issues including, limited to almost no mobility, difficulty swallowing, impaired speech and trouble breathing. This eventually can lead to death.
Feeding the brain high amounts of fats and moderate protein, indeed, can help stop the progression of ALS. The neuroprotective effects of ketones increase energy production in the mitochondria of the cells. Utilizing fat for fuel is much more effective than utilizing carbohydrates for fuel. In addition, ketones provide energy to the nerve cells and this prevents further cellular damage.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
MS is a disease that slowly deteriorates the nervous system, affecting the brain and spinal cord. Healthy cells are identified as bad cells by the immune system, and are attacked, repeatedly. By following a Ketogenic diet, this can contribute to a reduction in MS symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. When your body starts to produce ketones, this has a “protecting” type of effect on the nervous system cells. The nervous system is the main hug of where all the damage can occur. Keeping inflammation down to a minimum is extremely important with MS. The focus on good fats, essential fatty acids and non processed foods should not be limited to just treating the symptoms, but a key lifestyle change in order to live a healthier and longer life.
Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive movement disorder where neurons(brain cells) continually malfunction and die. The very cells that produce dopamine, start deteriorating over time and cause severe imbalances between acetylcholine and dopamine levels. Currently, there is no cure and the cause is relatively unknown. Symptoms range from weakness and stiffness in limbs, tremors in arms, face and legs, severe emotional issues, depression and impaired balance. In addition, the intestines also have vital cell receptors that continually degenerate, causing gastrointestinal issues such as constipation and bloating.
In the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, a Ketogenic diet has shown immense promise. When following this diet, studies have shown that not only is there a significant improvement in symptoms, but also that the diet has been shown to reduce inflammation in brain cells. Ketones(substances made when the body burns fat for energy) have been shown to actually repair neurons, mainly due to the metabolism being altered by the state of ketosis.
Epilepsy, by definition is basically when nerve cells within the brain become disturbed; This is caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain, sometimes resulting from, but not limited to, trauma, infections, brain tumors and strokes. The body then loses consciousness and has a seizure.
Blood sugar levels, whether too low or too high, can cause seizures and cognitive impairment. Ketogenic diets have been shown to greatly reduce the amount of epileptic seizures, mainly because of its neuroprotective effects on the brain from ketone bodies. Furthermore, ketones are thought to have anticonvulsant and anti epileptic effects.
Fuel Your Engine
Think of your body as a car engine, it needs good quality fuel to run well. Your engine should be using the best fuel in order to run at optimal levels. If you ingest poor sources of fuel into your body, you will be needing jumper cables and perhaps a tow, quite frequently. That fat (fuel) lubricates your brain cells and allows everything to run smoothly & efficiently.