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The keto diet: Is it all hype?

BY FITZ-GEORGE
RATTRAY

Sunday, January 20, 2019

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THE ketogenic diet, or keto diet, is taking a commonly experienced metabolic state, polarising it, and promoting it into a product and a lifestyle, elevating all the many positive effects and circumventing or explaining away the benefits of the foods it restricts.

Many of our ancestors faced famine, varied food availability, and necessary physical activity of great intensities. Because carbohydrates are not a long-term energy source and cannot always be readily available, a mechanism of sustaining metabolism and energy production without the presence of carbohydrates and utilising fat was, and is, necessary.

Talk of the keto diet triggers responses, both positive and negative, among many experts and believers. It is always better to have discussion about nutrition than no discussion at all.

However, we have been here before: When the sugar industry was threatened they blamed fat, and when the dairy industry was threatened they blamed sugar and carbs. Then they all blamed their victims by calling them lazy and instructing them to exercise — hard.

Nutrition is not black and white, fats or no fats, carbs or no carbs, proteins or no proteins, meats or no meats. The best nutrition is a spectrum of foods, colours and flavour that nature provides.

Just about anything said is going to be polarising, and that is the bigger issue. It isn't, keto or not keto, or paleo or not paleo. The real issue is how people think, not what is true.

Anything said with enough anchored or floating facts will get people's belief (or disbelief) systems activated; and the more polarising, the more we “sink our teeth” into it. This blinds us to the discovery and appreciation of truth and restricts our growth as a people.

Just to momentarily add to the keto issue, there is a serious difference between the medical understanding of ketosis, the scientific study of ketosis, and the diet fad of ketosis.

Medically, ketosis is a natural metabolic state which occurs during fasting, after prolonged exercise, and/or during the utilisation of a high-fat diet, utilising ketone bodies to derive energy from fat stores.

Scientifically, ketosis is effectively the same medically, but will delve deeper into such terms, molecules and pathways involving HDAC, FOXO3a, MTII, Citrate, Acetyl-CoA, 2 NAD, 2 NADH, HMG CoA, and scores more.

As a diet, the description is much wider. For some, keto is essentially the Atkin's diet. For others it is zero carbs with protein and fats, and for others still, low carbs, high protein and fats, or, 10/20 per cent calories from carbs.

There are many variations of believers but with all, the commonality is three or less meals per day, with high-fat, high-protein intake and restricted carbohydrates for the purpose of keeping insulin levels low, thereby utilising fat intake and stores for energy.

A ketone-inducing diet will always work, that is why the Intekai System incorporates ketone-inducing stages throughout our autophagy waves. Autophagy is triggered by partial-day and multi-day fasting and improves cell and tissue longevity, health and reconditioning.

However, unlike the keto diet, we focus on the balances which are known to enhance and prolong life.

Keto supporters speak about how much better they feel as a result of restricted carbs. In fact, managed portions, restricted sugars, flours and processed carbohydrates will yield the same benefits.

Keto supporters rave about their low fat levels and their utilisation of ketone bodies. In fact, calorie management, maintaining a proper eating window of four to eight, maximum 10 hours will result in ketone production and fat utilisation, with all the additional health and cell health benefits.

Keto supporters speak about reduced oxidative stress (which will damage cells and may cause cancer) because of the more efficient non-insulin, non-sugar, metabolic paths. In fact, this is true for any calorie-managed, low-simple carbohydrate diet with a controlled eating window, but with a diet higher in vegetable, fruit and berry intake, (yes, I know keto has some, but higher is the key) there is a higher concentration of micronutrients, fibre and all-important oxidation-fighting antioxidants.

I could go on, but why? It should already be clear that the principles of a diet which induces ketosis is solid, but a diet utilising these balances and increasing the protections of a balanced, more natural way of eating covers more of the requirements of healthy eating.

We only need to know four things about a healthy diet. It:

1. Should be based on proven science, not just be overflowing with science, and constantly contradicting of other proven healthy lifestyles;

2. Should follow the model of our healthier ancestors (balanced, natural foods with varied availability);

3. Should follow the model of healthier long-living societies today (blue zone regions); and,

4. Most importantly, should be sustainable.

Takeaway points

The keto diet has been tested over the past 30 years and has been found not to cause any discernible damage.

That is, keeping in mind that testing on humans is a matter of questionnaires, as with the controlled restricting of a group, possibly causing harm is unethical and discernible damage means that their disease and death rates are no more than average.

However, we do have a group of keto “dieters” which has been monitored for hundreds of years — the Inuit (including Eskimos) who, because of their Alaskan, Greenland and Northern Canada homelands, have been living 100 per cent keto. Their average lifespan is the same to 10 years less than the world average.

Fortunately, we also have decades to centuries of cultures living as the ITK System and other more balanced diets promote — the blue zone cultures, minimum to zero refined sugars and carbohydrates, moderate fruit intake, moderate to no animal products, and high vegetable and fibre foods. Their average lifespan is 10 to 20 years more than the world average.

Both groups enjoy fair to excellent physical activity.

It is true that the balanced approach minimises:

• The occurrence and effects of oxidative stress;

• insulin resistance issues;

• cravings;

• hormone imbalances;

• mental stresses;

• inflammation; and

• nerve damage

while:

• promoting healthy, sustainable and convenient habits;

• building gut microbiome health;

• working with your natural PH;

• promoting body fat management and more.

Here's the thing, many people do not enjoy balance and moderation; extreme choices empower and control them.

So, even if your choice is not ideally balanced, if locking your mind into one style of eating — even one which may in the long run increase risks by restricting or eliminating nutritious foods — will make you stick with a relatively healthier diet, thereby reducing most risk factors sustainable for you, then have a go at it.

If, however, you have the ability to conceptualise a balance which has served several societies for centuries, and can accept scientific truths which, when incorporated, will help you attain and maintain an even healthier steady state in the middle of all this turmoil, then you know what to do and where to turn to for the direction and support needed to make the last change you will ever need to make.

Fitz-George Rattray is the director of Intekai Academy, which is focused on helping people live a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and weight management. If you are interested in losing weight or living a healthier lifestyle, give them a call at 876-863-5923, or visit their website at intekaiacademy.org


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