Believe it or not, a lot of people who take on doing a diet end up doing a different type of diet without even knowing it. A ketogenic diet is a low carb diet designed to send the body into ketosis, which in layman’s terms is the process where your body starts to gain its energy from the fat stores. The longer version is that ketones, a molecule produced by the liver, are not easily accessible when your body has the option of glucose, which tends to burn much easier than ketones.
By switching to a ketogenic diet, you are lowering the carbohydrates, which glucose is formed from, which will then lower your blood sugar. By doing so, your body hits some sort of panic mode that will then regulate your blood sugar by going for ketones, which will then make it a lot easier to burn through fat.
This has also been scientifically proven to boost your ability to produce insulin, which makes this type of diet extremely appealing (and productive!) to sufferers of Type 2 diabetes. A lot of people who take on low carb diets, such as the South Beach diet, the Atkins diet, and the Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diet will ultimately find themselves slipping into a ketogenic diet as they “stick with it” and switch the fat stores into high gear.
Science has a habit of making absolutely everything mundane sound like it’s horror, but in the end, this is a highly beneficial diet for a vast majority of the population. Atkins and South Beach have been around for quite some time (Atkins was created 35 years ago, and the much newer and increasingly popular South Beach for 14 years) and have nearly cult-like followings based on their relatively fast results done in a safe way when the guidelines are followed. Ketosis is a key factor in both of these diets’ successes and have granted great health to hundreds upon thousands of people who choose to try it for either aesthetic reasons or the proven health benefits.
It’s believed that one of the benefits to a ketogenic diet might be arthritis prevention or relief. Though most studies have come back inconclusive, hypothetically, it might be a good move to at least try a ketogenic diet in order to see if it will be effective for you.
Arthritis is defined as a blanket term for the various inflammations of any joint in your body. It’s painful, it can cause swelling, and in many cases to date, creates extremely painful bone spurs that will permanently limit your movement. Your best chance against arthritis is to exercise well, keep off excess weight, take in plenty of antioxidants, and to keep an eye on your blood pressure. The ketogenic diet, in practice, will aid you in a majority of the prevention factors, even if the studies have made little to no connection in how it works with arthritis once it has already set in.
When it comes to exercising, people who take on a ketogenic diet for health reasons over an aesthetic purpose will tend to be decent at keeping up with it. Since you are reducing the amount of carbohydrates to a nearly non-existent point, you might be wondering how anyone can find the actual energy involved for a proper exercise.
Here’s where things get a little bit interesting: a lot of ketogenic diets tend to be high in fat. You absolutely read that correctly; in order to lose weight there are thousands of people out there purposefully eating fatty foods. Here’s why, though: fats tend to make a body feel sluggish initially, and yet, they are a lot more sustainable an energy source than carbohydrates.
Typically speaking, when you have a high intake of carbohydrates, you are getting them from sugars, which, as mentioned before, are so much easier to access for your body to use when needed. After the carbohydrates are gone, though, they are likely to send you into a sugar crash, which can kill your motivation to perform about anything, much less a half an hour of high intensity exercise.
By having a low carbohydrate intake, you’re going to go straight into the fat storage, which will not give you the boost that carbohydrates will, but you will be able to go for a longer amount of time. You’re also going to find that without carbohydrates, your fat stores will shrink a lot easier and quicker, since your body is used to using that energy and can switch to a calorie-burning state on a dime.
This is also how a ketogenic diet can help with keeping access fat off. While fat is, in itself, not the problem that might cause arthritis, a heavier person will find themselves a lot more susceptible to arthritis.
What happens is that when you are carrying more weight than you should, your joints will need to put in a lot more effort to keep you moving and upright. The cartilage between your bones, which is by very nature prone to inflammations and infection, will not increase with your weight, which is why when calculating your body-fat percentage it is necessary to measure your wrist and sometimes even your neck.
As you move, it will try its best to cushion your elbows, shoulders, knees, ankles, etc. and find itself begging for more oxygen. The more oxygen it’s using, the more likely it is to draw in free radicals that your body produces, which will lead to inflammation, which, if prolonged, moves into a full blown arthritis diagnosis.
If you are in fact “big boned,” know that your healthy weight will naturally be a lot heavier and that your cartilage is actually designed for that weight, meaning that you can get away with a much higher weight before your body begins to protest it.
Where a ketogenic diet can help is by making fat stores a lot more accessible, burning fat in the same way it does with regular exercise. In fact, weight loss is also a known way to lessen the symptoms of arthritis once its onset, giving the argument that ketogenic dieting will be helpful to arthritis well into diagnosis.
Here is where things get a little sticky for the ketogenic diet when it comes to its aid against arthritis. When it comes to inflammation, antioxidants are an integral part of combating it. In fact, a lot of experts will insist that antioxidants are THE most important thing that you can put into your body to prevent inflammation.
Through the process of using muscles or joints, oxygen is called for as needed, which is why you develop a sweat and start breathing heavier in exercise and why a vital part of exercise is learning to breath in a proper manner to maximize the effect. With oxygen comes free radicals, which include a compound that causes inflammation.
Free radicals are responsible for a lot of signs of aging, such as your wrinkles, the loss of elasticity in your skin, and aching bones. In order to fight these free radicals, you’re going to need to keep a good amount of antioxidants to counteract them. These tend to be found in…you guessed it, foods that are high in carbohydrates.
Famously, you’re going to find them in fruits, but you can find them elsewhere. On a ketogenic diet, you’ll find a lot of kale and spinach recipes. The darker the leaves are, the more antioxidants that they hold.
There are also a lot of spices that you will find pair well with your beef and chicken, which are staples in your diet. Several of the most popular ones, including garlic, cayenne, and the ever-popular parsley and oregano.
If you can find a way to keep a steady antioxidant intake while you’re on a ketogenic diet, it is absolutely feasible that you can keep inflammation at bay. Be aware though, that antioxidants that are plentiful and easily accessed are typically found in such things as blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries, all of which have a high carb count. The South Beach diet, at least, typically allows blueberries in small amounts during and after Phase 2, but the other two listed are not allowed at all. As such, sugar cravings are typically the downfall of a ketogenic diet unless high discipline is practiced.
Should you want to try for a ketogenic diet yourself, this will be a hurdle you’ll come to within the first two weeks, as your body uses it carbohydrates up and starts to search for more. However, this is an extremely short phase in most cases and once you get over this hurdle, you aren’t likely to experience it again.
When it comes to blood pressure and its issues, it’s important to make a few key notes when it comes to blood pressure and arthritis. The alarming truth is that a third of the population in the United States, the UK, Germany, and France have high blood pressure. It’s scary, but the epidemic can actually be reduced by several lifestyle changes.
What is even more scary is a common type of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, can actually mask blood pressure issues, which means that many people already in suffering are finding their issues are actually tenfold and going untreated. When a person has RA along with high blood pressure, it’s actually far less uncommon for this person to NOT have any form of heart disease.
With this aside, it’s also important to throw out into cyberspace that when you have high blood pressure, your heart is working a lot harder than an average person. Oxygen, which I have mentioned before is necessary to live, but is disproportionate in its responsibility for free radicals in your system to the point we call the powerhouses against free radicals antioxidants, is going to be in higher concentration of the blood cells as they circulate your system, giving you far more than is necessary, making you far more prone to inflammation, especially in cartilage, which already requires a lot of oxygen in order to work properly.
In contrast, low blood pressure may not bring enough oxygen to your joints fast enough, which can result in hypoxia, which is essentially when an organ, muscle, tendon, ligament, or joint is oxygen deprived and thus cannot rebuild itself. A 2011 study brought to light that hypoxia can increase the odds of inflammation, as they cannot fight back, making them far easier to damage in the long run.
Obviously, when this happens to your brain, lungs, liver, or heart, you’re pretty much done. In essence, that level of damage can happen to your joints with low blood pressure and it’s extremely difficult to come back from.
One of the many things that ketogenic diets have been scientifically confirmed in is that they normalize blood pressure better than any other form of diet. The participants all held a sedentary lifestyle, which took exercise – which has already been beaten up and down and proven to be the single biggest lifestyle change that will regulate blood pressure – out of the equation entirely. Further studies included exercise, and ketogenic diets remained at the top for blood pressure regulation.
Another link to make a case for ketogenic diets versus arthritis is a far smaller scale form of inflammation, even if it is considered highly annoying. While not deadly, acne is a plague among all our houses!
While not all comedones are a form of acne, many strains of acne, including the ever-frustrating acne vulgaris and sometimes extremely painful cystic acne, are actually tiny inflammations within the layers of your epidermis.
Acne is not possible to cure, and any product trying to claim it is should be ashamed of themselves for saying that they can, but it’s certainly a treatable malady, typically in the form of topical ointments or face washes that treat the inflammation and make the “core” less painful to remove.
Many people on the Atkins diet swore up and down that their skin appeared to be much clearer after a month or so of the diet, and scientists got a bit curious and started their tests. All around the board, a ketogenic diet did not stop acne in its entirety, but the results showed that the outbreaks were far less common.
One has to make the connection that if outward inflammations are being reduced, that it’s only going to make sense that internal inflammations are also being reduced, which can easily include arthritis.
The key here is believed that the ketosis’ proven effects on hormones such as insulin and IGF, especially when considering that the effect is increased exponentially when one takes away dairy products, which have been on a yoyo for decades about their health benefits due to bovine hormones that remain even after pasteurization.
One could also argue in the same breath that another proven link to ketogenic dieting combating arthritis can be found literally in your head. Migraines, which have a variety of triggers, along with daily headaches, are typically caused by an inflammation of a blood vessel around the brain or brain tissue itself.
Most of the other problems that may result in a migraine or daily headaches are actually far more serious problems, which is why if they last more than three days consecutively, you NEED to contact a doctor, and why NSAIDs are particularly effective against headaches (unfortunately, migraines are far more severe and require a prescription level of NSAIDs to be effective). After all, NSAID stands for Non Steroid Anti Inflammatory Drug.
However, given their effect on your liver and kidneys, a growing amount of people are looking for a non-medication option, which is what triggered a few studies for the effects of a ketogenic diet. After all, a ketogenic diet has been used for treatment of epilepsy since the 1920s when medication was not effective. The results came back and pointed toward migraine attacks were significantly lowered. In fact, there are even a few blogs out on the internet that follow people on their personal journeys with a ketogenic diet with the express purpose of lowered migraines. This once again goes into your antioxidants. If you find a good way to increase antioxidant intake, you’re likely to have fewer headaches.
As for the conclusiveness of the studies directly related to ketogenic diets and arthritis, pilot studies have initially been favorable. However, there have been a variety of setbacks due to such things as biases and a failure to pass a double-blind test. Due to these factors, it has been difficult to gain further funding in order to get further studies for a direct link between the two. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Personal biochemistry might be an important factor in finding a personal link. The reasons above are more than enough motivation to try out one of the ketogenic diets and see if it can work for you. There’s enough evidence that can lend itself to a solid hypothesis that one can be effective in preventing many common types of arthritis and not too much against it.
Bear in mind that every diet has its potential to go wrong. It’s extremely important with playing with ketosis to keep yourself well-educated on the literature of the subject, not to mention make it easier to order something that you can enjoy at a restaurant, and while you’re still at home, you can even find safe and smart ways to cheat your diet without risking yourself relapsing into unhealthy eating habits.
While optimal ketosis is typically a difficult feat for an average person to even get to, there have been reports of ketones going dangerously high. This is called ketoacidosis, which can only take 24 hours to go from annoying to debilitating. Less dangerous symptoms of too many ketones include flu like symptoms easily treated with hot water, salt and lemon, and bad breath that reminds many people of nail polish remover.
There are a variety of products that can help you monitor your ketosis, and with due diligence, you’re going to find it a lot harder to hit that point. The major risk groups are breastfeeding mothers, people already taking medication for high blood pressure and people with Type 2 diabetes, but the occasional average person can find themselves with too many ketones in their system.
As with every diet you’re considering, it is best to consult a doctor to make sure that this is a diet that you can do. The chances are that it should be perfectly fine, seeing as even the high risk groups can pull it off with a doctor monitoring them, but when it comes to your health, it is always better to be safe than sorry.