Go Keto, Stop Inflammation: The Anti-Inflammatory Effects Of The Ketogenic Diet
Food can heal. You may not hear this for the first time, and maybe you have even experienced the powerful effects of food on your own body. In this article we will examine the anti-inflammatory effects of the ketogenic diet: How will a keto diet made up of 60-90% fats help to fight harmful inflammation?
Inflammation is actually for us
Inflammation is actually for us, not against us. It defends us against bacteria and foreign bodies. However, if staying for too long, it becomes life-threatening for us.
Chronic inflammation is the cause of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and co. But, wait a minute, what are the causes of chronic inflammation and how can going keto help?
4 causes of chronic inflammation
Nothing that happens in the body is simple. Therefore, chronic inflammation cannot be traced back to a single cause (that would be way too simple after all). Often there are several factors that form the breeding ground for inflammation.
1. Unhealthy diet
Antioxidants (e.g. in citrus fruits, turmeric and coffee) and fibre (e.g. in vegetables and fruit) protect the body cells from harmful substances such as free radicals that attack the cells. Therefore, a diet that contains too little of these substances can promote inflammation in the body.
White sugar and carbohydrates (e.g. potatoes, bread and pasta) ensure a rapid increase in our blood sugar. An increase in the blood sugar level causes more insulin in order to transport the sugar from the blood into the cells. An increase in insulin then leads to a rapid drop in blood sugar levels. As a result, the rapidly fluctuating blood sugar level produces inflammatory cytokines – chemical messengers that cause inflammation.
2. Leaky Gut Syndrome
People with Leaky Gut Syndrome have a permeable intestinal mucosa. Through tears in the intestinal mucosa, bacteria and other harmful substances enter the bloodstream. Since these substances do not belong there, the immune system reacts with an inflammation. The intestinal mucosa can become permeable for various reasons, such as antibiotics, pesticides and excessive consumption of highly processed foods such as ready to eat pizza.
3. Chronic stress
Cortisol is the hormone that is released during stress. During long-lasting stress, the body releases cortisol over a long period of time. The hormone system is quite complex because all hormones influence each other directly or indirectly. An increase in cortisol causes increased insulin levels. Blood sugar fluctuations occur, resulting in an increased production of inflammatory cytokines – a vicious circle!
Stress also leads to behaviours that can promote inflammation, such as poor nutrition, alcohol, lack of exercise and poor sleeping habits.
4. Environmental toxins
Body care products, household cleaners, medicines, heavy metals, smoke, moulds and emissions are environmental toxins. The daily confrontation with environmental toxins overwhelms our immune system. An overwhelmed immune system can no longer function properly and inflammation occurs.
How can a keto diet help to fight inflammation?
A ketogenic diet is a diet very low in carbohydrates but rich in fat. The amount of carbohydrates is reduced to 20-50 grams per day.
Carbohydrates are our main source of energy. If only very few carbohydrates are consumed, the liver will lack energy after some time. Since the liver takes care of the energy conversion and transfer to cells, it has to find another energy source – the metabolism has to change.
The liver begins to break down fats into ketone bodies. These are passed on as energy sources to the brain, muscles and other organs.
Foods that promote inflammation are excluded in the keto diet.
Carbohydrates lead to a fluctuating blood sugar level, whereupon inflammatory cytokines are produced, which promote inflammations. In a ketogenic diet, fats become the body’s main source of energy. The diet includes high-fat foods – no sugar, hardly any carbohydrates.
Foods that reduce inflammation are increasingly consumed in the keto diet.
60-90% of the ketogenic diet are fats. A high fat intake (with the right composition) increases the amount of anti-inflammatory polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids (e.g. in flax, rapeseed and olive oil). High-quality fatty acids activate cell receptors which stop the spread of inflammations.
Avoid mistakes when going keto
A keto diet can reduce inflammation if it is carried out correctly. Find out about the mistakes you should avoid when switching to a ketogenic diet here.
The ketogenic diet can also have other benefits for you if you are a protein-efficient metabolic type. People with this type of metabolism can metabolise proteins very well, but carbohydrates very badly. Learn more about this topic here.
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