What is A Ketogenic Diet?
A Ketogenic diet is a low carb, high fat diet that was originally used to successfully treat epilepsy. Recent science has proven that you can improve RA with a ketogenic diet.
Recent science has proven that a ketogenic diet can also help you:
- loose weight quickly,
- improve brain functioning and treat moderate Alzheimer’s Disease
- reverse or reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes
- reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
- improve your autoimmune function by fighting inflammation
- help protect you against cancer
The diet literally transforms your body from relying on glycogen (stored glucose) for energy to relying on fat (ketones) for energy. This diet lowers your carbohydrate intake enough to put your body in ketosis. The diet requires you to consume 70-80% fat, 15% protein and 5-10% carbs. The high fat in the diet slows your digestion and balances blood sugar, allowing you to loose weight. The reduction in carbs is key to this diet.
Foods Allowed on a Strict Ketogenic Diet
- PROTEINS: Grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish & seafood, pasturized poultry, omega 3 eggs and organ meats
- HEALTHY FATS: lard, tallow, chicken fat, duck fat, goose fat, ghee, grass fed butter, MCT Oil, extra virgin coconut oil, Palm and olive oil, macadamia oil, fatty fish and sea food
- NON- STARCHY VEGETABLES: Leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, cabbage,etc.), celery, asparagus, cucumber, summer squash, bamboo shoots.
- FRUITS: Avocado, berries and watermelon (in moderation)
- NUTS and SEEDS ( except peanuts)
- CONDIMENTS and DRINKS: Spices, bone broth,water, coffee and tea in moderation
Hints from Advocates of the Ketogenic Diet
- Most experts think you should consult with a healthcare professional who can evaluate your ketogenic diet for nutritional adequacy and prescribe a ketogenic diet specifically for you.
- Since the diet is difficult to stay on (in the beginning), it helps to recruit a friend to go on the diet with you.
- You can use urine strips to track your body’s progress toward ketosis. Ketosis is a state at which your body produces ketones in the liver, shifting the body’s metabolism away from glucose and towards fat utilization. Most experts do not believe that urine strips are very accurate for testing your body’s ketosis state because they only test one type of ketones. However, urine tests are the least expensive ketosis test and do give you an indication as to your progress into ketosis. The most accurate test is a blood test but the equipment is expensive. You can also use a breathe tester. People in ketosis have an alkaline odor to their breath. You can read the pros and cons of all three methods of testing for ketosis here. The bottom line is observation may be the best option in the beginning. Your health care professional can best advise you based on your personal health goals.
- You need to drink at least 8 glasses of water every day while you are on this diet. This will help you avoid constipation.
- It is helpful to carry some emergency food with you at all times so you can quickly access healthy food when you get hungry. Dr. Mark Hyman carries packets of almond and cashew butter, an Evolution bar, a bulletproof bar, a Tanka bar and a KIND bar. (8)
- Keeping a daily food dairy improves compliance and helps you determine which foods make you feel better.
- A food dairy also helps you identify foods you are sensitive to.
Improve RA With a Ketogenic Diet
Scientific Evidence That the Ketogenic Diet Improves RA
An article published in the Journal of Child Neurology in August 2013 reviewed the research literature about Ketogenic diets to determine if the ketogenic diet can improve pain. They specifically addressed pain caused by inflammation. They concluded that the ketogenic diet activates fatty acid levels in the body including long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that bind to peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors. These receptors trigger enhanced lipid metabolism. This effect inhibits pro-inflammatory pathways. (1)
Another study on rats completed by the authors of this article artificially induced inflammation in the feet of two groups of rats. One group received a regular diet and the other received a ketogenic diet prior to the introduction of inflammation. The rats who received the ketogenic diet had no inflammation.
There are many more studies that support the fact that low carb, high fat diets improve autoimmune disease. Dr Mark Hyman, MD uses these diets successfully with his autoimmune patients. He recommends that these patients remain dairy and gluten free in addition to the low carb, high fat diet.(3).
Advantages: Improve Your RA With a Ketogentic Diet
- This diet is one of the most researched diets available today.
- If you choose this diet you should begin to feel better within 2-4 weeks.
- There is scientific evidence that this diet fights inflammation.
- The diet supports weight loss because it is more filling than other diets so you do not get hungry.
- The diet increases metabolic efficiency.
- Science also supports the fact that eating fat is more healthy than eating carbs (in spite of the fact that we have always been told to avoid fatty foods).
- After you reach ketosis and have been on the diet for about 3 weeks, you can begin to slowly add some healthy grains, dairy and fruit in moderation if you are not sensitive to those foods.
Disadvantages: Improve Your RA With a Ketogentic Diet
- A Ketogenic diet is a difficult diet to maintain for a long time because of the high fat requirement and the food intake monitoring required.
- You should eat only grass-fed meat and poultry and organic veggies.
Can a Modified Ketogenic Diet Improve Your RA?
There are many people who increase the variety of whole foods by modifying the keto diet after they have reached ketosis.
Others transition to a cyclical ketogenic diet. They stay on their Keto diet for 5-6 days per week and eat healthy whole foods for 1-2 days per week.
Basically, the diet can be slightly modified as long as your body remains in ketosis.
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In his Eat Fat Get Thin book Dr. Hyman recommends transitioning to a “Pagan” diet after being on a strict ketonic diet for 21 days . This diet can be your lifetime diet and it is less restrictive that the keto diet. It includes healthy whole foods (no sugar, no processed foods and eat 70% veggies). You can purchase his book Here if you are interested. He also covers the science that supports his recommended diet. It is interesting reading.
You can get a very detailed food list for the Keto diet that details what foods you can eat, what foods you can eat occasionally and what foods you should avoid Here .
I am convinced that this diet can improve your RA. It is, however a difficult diet to sustain for a lifetime; so transitioning to a healthy whole foods diet is probably a more realistic long-term goal.
To Your Health and Happiness,
- Hyman, Mark, Eat Fat, Get Thin, 2017 Little Brown and Company
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