Keto Diet and the Health Benefits

The ketogenic diet has gained tremendous popularity. A lot of research suggests that this high-fat, low carbohydrate diet elevates various health conditions. Some of the evidence comes from case studies and animal research, but the results of controlled human studies are also promising.

Here are the health benefits of the ketogenic diet.


Epilepsy is a disease that causes convulsions due to excessive brain activity. Some people with epilepsy may benefit from anti-epileptic drugs. However, some people do not respond to the medication or cannot tolerate the side effects.

Of all the conditions that can benefit from a ketogenic diet, epilepsy has by far the most evidence to support it. Dozens of studies have been conducted on the subject.

Studies show that seizures resolve in about 50% of epileptic patients who follow the classic ketogenic diet. It is also known as the 4:1 ketogenic diet, as it contains four times more fat than protein and carbohydrates combined.

The Atkins Modified Diet (AMD) is based on a 1:1 ratio of fat, protein, and carbohydrates that is not significantly restrictive. It has proven equally effective in controlling seizures in most adults and children over two years of age. The ketogenic diet can also have effects on the brain that go beyond seizure control.

For example, when researchers analyzed brain activity in children with epilepsy, 65% of those who followed the ketogenic diet showed improvements in various brain patterns – whether they had few seizures or not. 


Migraines are often accompanied by severe pain, sensitivity to light, sound/noise, and nausea. Several studies have shown that migraine symptoms usually improve in people who follow a ketogenic diet. One study reported a reduction in migraine frequency and pain prescription use in people who followed a ketogenic diet for only one month.

Glycogen Storage Disease

People with glycogen storage disease (GSD) are deficient in one of the enzymes involved in storing glucose (blood sugar) as glycogen or in glucose breakdown into glucose. There are several forms of GSD, each based on the deficient enzyme.

The diagnosis of this disease is usually made in children. Symptoms differ depending on the type of GSD and include low growth, fatigue, hypoglycemia, muscle cramps, and liver enlargement. GSD patients are often encouraged to eat high carbohydrate foods regularly to ensure glucose is always available in the body.

However, research suggests that people with some forms of GSD may benefit from a ketogenic diet. For example, GSD III, also known as Forbes-Kohli disease, affects the liver and muscles. A ketogenic diet can relieve the symptoms by providing ketones to be used as an alternative fuel source.

GSD V, also known as McArdle’s disease, affects muscles and is characterized by limited mobility. In one case, a man with GSD V followed a ketogenic diet for one year. Depending on the exercise level, he experienced a dramatic increase of 3 to 10 times in exercise tolerance. However, controlled studies are needed to confirm the potential benefits of the ketogenic diet.


People with diabetes often experience an impressive drop in blood glucose levels when following a ketogenic diet. This is true for both type 1 and types 2 diabetes. Dozens of studies have shown that deficient carbohydrate diets can help control blood sugar levels and other health benefits.

In one 15-week study, 17 out of 21 people who followed a ketogenic diet could stop or reduce their diabetes medication. The study participants also lost an average of 7.7 pounds, and their waist circumference, triglyceride levels, and blood pressure also decreased.

In a three-month study comparing a moderate carbohydrate diet with a ketogenic diet, participants in the ketogenic group reduced their HbA1c levels by an average of 0.6%. 12% of participants achieved HbA1c levels below 5.7%, which is considered a standard low line.


Cancer is one of the preeminent reasons for death in the whole world. In recent years, studies have shown that a ketogenic diet can help treat some cancers when used in combination with traditional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery.

Many researchers have linked elevated blood sugar levels, obesity, and type 2 diabetes to cancers such as breast cancer. They suggest that limiting carbohydrates and lowering blood sugar and insulin levels may help prevent tumor growth.

Studies in mice have shown that a ketogenic diet can reduce some cancers’ progression, including those that have spread to other parts of the body. Some experts believe that a ketogenic diet may be particularly beneficial for brain tumors.

Case studies and patient data analysis have shown improvements in several types of brain tumors, including glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and aggressive type of brain tumor.

In one study, 5 out of 8 patients with GBM had a reasonable response to a free calorie ketogenic diet combined with anti-cancer drugs. The researchers noted that this diet is safe but probably has a restricted effect on its own.

Some researchers have reported that it preserves muscle mass and slows tumor growth in cancer patients who follow a ketogenic diet combined with radiation or other cancer treatments.

Ketogenic diets may not significantly impact disease progression in advanced or refractory cancers, but they are safe for these patients and may improve their quality of life.

Randomized clinical trials should study how the ketogenic diet affects cancer patients. Studies in animals and humans suggest that a ketogenic diet may be beneficial for some people with cancer when combined with other treatments.


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a condition characterized by problems with communication, social interaction, and, in some cases, repetitive behavior. It is usually diagnosed in childhood and treated with speech and language therapy.

Studies on young mice and rats have shown that a ketogenic diet may help to improve autism-related behavior. Autism shares some features with epilepsy, and many people with autism experience seizures associated with overstimulation of brain cells.

Research has shown that a ketogenic diet reduces brain cells’ overstimulation in a mouse model of autism. It also appears to improve behavior independently of changes in seizure activity.

In a wheelman study of 30 children with autism, 18 children followed a cyclical ketogenic diet for six months and showed improvement in their symptoms. In one case, a young girl with autism who followed a gluten-free and dairy-free ketogenic diet for several years experienced dramatic improvements. These included the disappearance of morbid obesity and a 65-point increase in intelligence quotient. 


Parkinson’s disease (PD) results in the mayhem of the nervous system characterized by low dopamine signaling molecule levels. Dopamine deficiency can cause several symptoms, including tremor, loss of posture, stiffness, difficulty walking and writing.

The ketogenic diet is considered adjuvant therapy in PD because of its protective effects on the brain and nervous system. Feeding rats and mice on a ketogenic diet with PD has led to increased energy production, protection against nerve damage, and improved motor function.

In a study, seven people with PD followed a classic 4:1 ketogenic diet; after four weeks, five of them showed an improvement in symptoms on average of 43%. The effect of a ketogenic diet on PD is another area where controlled studies are needed. Ketogenic diets have proven promising in improving Parkinson’s disease symptoms, both in animal and human studies. 


Many studies have shown that low carbohydrate ketogenic diets are often more effective for weight loss than calorie-restricted or low-fat diets. Besides, they usually offer other health benefits as well.

In a 24 week study, men on a ketogenic diet lost twice as much fat as men on a low-fat diet. Also, triglycerides were significantly lower in the ketogenic group, and their HDL “good” cholesterol was increased. The low-fat group had a lower decrease in triglycerides and a decrease in HDL cholesterol.

The ability of ketogenic diets to reduce hunger is one reason they work so well for weight loss. A comprehensive study found that a ketogenic diet that is too low in carbohydrates and limited calories helped people feel more hungry than a standard diet restricted in calories.

Even if people on a ketogenic diet can eat whatever they want, they still consume fewer calories due to ketosis’s appetite-suppressing effect. In a study of obese men who consumed a calorie-restricted ketogenic diet or a moderate carbohydrate diet, those in the ketogenic group were significantly less hungry, consumed fewer calories, and lost 32% more weight than the intermediate carbohydrate diet group.


Due to its beneficial effects on the overall health and the nervous system, the ketogenic diet applies to a wide range of conditions. However, many of these impressive results are from case studies and need to be validated by better research, including randomized controlled trials.

In cancer and many other serious diseases, the ketogenic diet should only be implemented as a supplement to standard treatment, under the supervision of a qualified physician or health care provider. Besides, no one should consider the ketogenic diet as a treatment for any disease or condition. However, the potential for the ketogenic diet to improve health is promising.

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