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How Does the Keto Diet Work

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Trendy diets come and go a lot so we figured we would take a moment to look at the keto diet through the lens of science. First of all, our planet has about 650 million people who are clinically obese. This disease puts people at risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease among other scary life changes. So, no wonder people are trying to address these issues by means of dieting. Popular diets in the US have included things like the whole 30, Atkins, and the paleo diets for example. Now the high protein, low carb weight loss yielding "Keto diet" is trending with celebs, health influencers, and a lot of other folks around the nation. This obviously begs the question: How does the keto diet work? 

The long and the short of it is that by depriving the body of carbohydrates this diet forces the body to instead burn fatty acids for energy. Deep within our liver cells, our mitochondria break down these fatty acids and release Ketone bodies, which we use for energy in place of the carbs-based caloric fuel one would normally be using.

This process is called Ketogenesis. This means your body is getting a high fat and protein intake, but using it all quickly, then relying on using stored fatty acids turned into ketone bodies to power us through the day and night. 

The Ketogenic diet is not a brand new thing though. Interestingly, scientists were using it to treat childhood epilepsy all the way back in the 1920s! In fact, fasting has long been used as a means of fighting epilepsy…and it works, though scientists still have no clear consensus as to why fasting decreases epileptic conditions. 

A lot of people are excited about this new diet, but there are some that show concern about long term Ketogeniss. A new study on mice has indicated some concerns over the long term use of this diet, specifically on some mice's inability to process fats properly after long-term Ketogenesis, thus opening the door to diabetes and, ironically, more obesity. However, more studies are needed and certainly will need testing on human subjects as well. 

While celebrities and Instagram influencers have their own thoughts, consulting with your physician is still the best way to get solid info on this diet's usefulness for your body. Also, keep in mind the goal is not simply to loose weight but to improve health. Obesity's impacts on vital human organs and functions are concerns from a health perspective. Humans come in all shapes and sizes, each one is unique to their own body, but all bodies function best when healthy and properly maintained. Consulting with your doctor would be a great first step in seeing how nutritional intake and exercise will impact your specific unique body. Regardless, conversations about diet always make good food for thought. 

MORE HEALTH SCIENCE:

Our health is vital to our lives. Human health has always been a part of our species. Humanity's quest for better understanding of our own health ranges from our ancestors' earliest days dealing with pain as hunter-gather groups to brand new technologies that monitor and distribute medicines via robots. We've loved covering the many discoveries that the medical field has contributed to science. Here are just a few ways that smart men and women around the world have used and continue to use science to raise the quality of life and increase humanity's access to a healthy tomorrow. 

Beauty Sleep

When we talk about beauty sleep, it does not necessarily mean someone goes to sleep looking like Gollum and wakes up looking like George Clooney. The old sayings about beauty sleep are more in reference to keeping skin healthy, preventing wrinkles, having lush hair, and other such features attributed to, basically, a healthy body. With that said let’s dig into some work conducted by scientists at the University of Manchester. This study specifically revolves around sleep’s relationship to our extra cellular matrix, which is kind of like a loosely woven scaffolding throughout the body. This matrix exists between and around your cells and provides biochemical support throughout the entire body! 

This matrix has parts that are "sacrificed" by the body daily through normal wear and tear. Brushing your teeth, sneezing, bumping into something, and a myriad of other things stress the matrix, which provides healthy biochemical support everywhere. Only with a proper night of sleep can the body repair the strong core permanent parts of the matrix. Insufficient sleep, however, can damage this vital body wide network resulting in many of the physical qualities associated with aging early. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder of course, but sleep certainly does play a role in keeping us healthy and vibrant. 

You are WHEN you eat:

In a recent study, scientists experimented on mice and fruit flies by putting them on a time-restricted eating schedule. After seeing those results, the researchers took it to a more relatable level, human testing. This was only a group of 19 individuals, a small feasibility study. Patients diagnosed with at least three of the five criteria for metabolic syndrome (obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high levels of bad cholesterol and low levels of good cholesterol) were all participants in this restricted-time diet. For 10 hours, between 9 am and 7 pm, these subjects could eat whatever they wanted, but beyond that window of time, they could only consume water or vital medications. In addition to the limited-time eating schedules, these patients also wore a smartwatch to track activity and sleep times.  

The results? After 12 weeks, they returned to the lab for a medical examination and to see what changes were observable since the beginning of this project. Most of them had lost a modest amount of body weight, their blood pressure was reduced, and nearly two-thirds of the patients also reported more restful sleep at night with little to no hunger around bedtime.

Tooth ache, bad. Tree bark, good

Ever wonder what humans did before pain killers were readily available? Especially because they would chew on strange things and attempt to clean out their mouths with very primitive options, causing much pain. So, what did they do for these toothaches? We have yet to find any fossils of ancient pharmacies, but we do know that our earliest relatives were able to use natural remedies to help offset some aches and pains. In a study from earlier this year, scientists further looked into how ancient humans would combat aches and pains. Poplar tree bark, packed with salicylic acid, became a favorite choice for ancient humans to chew on when in pain. Salicylic acid is the active ingredient in aspirin. While life has drastically changed thanks to our ability to harness science and technology, many of our basic daily issues remain the same. We occasionally have toothaches and we occasionally need pain relief. Knowing more about our past helps us better understand who we are and how we function in our world.