The keto diet has exploded in popularity over the last few years, largely due to the substantial weight loss benefits associated with it. Since 40% of US adults over 20 years old are estimated to be obese, weight loss has become a major goal for the majority of the population. Controlling your diet is the single biggest thing you can do, to make a positive impact on your long-term health. By developing good habits, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of optimal health.
In reality though, 10% of the US population suffers from diabetes, which is both a crippling condition in its own right, as well as an early warning sign of worse health problems to come. Diabetes causes high blood sugar, and needs to be treated with medication, so worse problems don’t occur. Untreated diabetes can lead to organ problems, nerve issues, kidney problems, and even issues with your eyesight. Unsurprisingly, each person’s A1c level (or long-term measurement of your blood sugar levels) is highly correlated with the risk for developing diabetes. The more sugar you take in on a daily basis, the more likely you are to develop diabetes. This is why the keto diet may be a great help for diabetes – it severely limits your carbohydrate and sugar intake.
Previously a niche problem, diabetes (especially type II) exploded into a full-blown health crisis in the United States. While the ever-increasing obesity rate gets a lot of press, the truth is diabetes is one of the biggest drivers behind obesity. In fact, many cases of insulin-resistance and type II diabetes go unreported. Not only can the keto diet help to manage diabetes, it is perhaps more valuable as a preventative strategy. Actually, you can adopt a keto diet before any problems arise and avoid developing diabetes or obesity. Since type II diabetes accounts for over 95% of all diabetes cases in the United States, avoiding development of the disease is huge scientific progress. Rather than relying on costly, after-the-fact medications, you can protect your good health by simply changing your diet.
What Is A Normal Blood Sugar Range?
For those without diabetes, a normal blood sugar range is 100 mg/dL after not eating for eight hours, and less than 140 mg/dL two hours after eating. Consistent blood sugar readings that are greater than these ranges are highly problematic. Hyperglycemia is the medical term for blood sugar that is dangerously high, and if you continue to take in too much sugar on a daily basis, eventually you will develop serious problems with your blood sugar.
What Are The Dangers Of High Blood Sugar?
There are both short-term, daily consequences to high blood sugar and long-term consequences. On a daily basis, you will need to start taking insulin. On a long-term basis, however, you will have to deal with diabetes, as well as all the negative consequences that come with it. If you suffer from diabetes, you will likely have low energy, constant hunger, excessive thirst, itchy skin, and a constant need to urinate. These symptoms should help scare you straight into keeping your blood sugar low.
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes can simply be thought of as the malfunctioning of your body, when you consume too much sugar on a regular basis. When you have good health, your body produces insulin. Your pancreas releases it when you eat, and all remains well. But if you develop diabetes, your body starts to become resistant to insulin. This becomes problematic for a number of reasons, one of which is forcing your pancreas to work too hard. This causes damage to the cells in your pancreas, and eventually your pancreas may not be able to produce any insulin at all.
Type I Diabetes
Type I diabetes is a specific type of disease related to blood sugar regulation, but importantly, it’s different than type II diabetes. Those suffering from this form of diabetes cannot produce any insulin at all, leaving them at a severe physical disadvantage. However, while type II diabetes is almost always caused by lifestyle, type I is genetic, and cannot be avoided. Sometimes type I diabetes is called juvenile diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes.
It’s also important to distinguish between nutritional ketosis, and diabetic ketoacidosis. In nutritional ketosis, your ketone levels are elevated, but nothing else. This allows for your body to use stored fat for energy, and also helps to lower your insulin levels. Diabetic ketoacidosis, on the other hand, elevates your blood sugar and ketone levels, putting you in a very dangerous situation. While rare, it is still important to discuss starting a keto diet with your doctor, if you have any issues with blood sugar, so you avoid diabetic ketoacidosis.
Type II Diabetes
Type II diabetes is largely different than type I, as sufferers can usually still produce insulin. They are, however, hugely insulin resistant. There are a number of risk factors for developing type II diabetes, including inactivity, obesity, and too much sugar in the diet. Over 30 million people in the United States suffer from type II diabetes, even though it is largely avoidable. This is one of the many facts which show that the American diet has gone horribly off-track, and most people need to drastically alter their eating patterns. In fact, health experts estimate that by 2030, about 50% of the population in the US will be obese. Of those, most, if not all, will be suffering from type II diabetes.
How Does The American Diet Impact Blood Sugar?
The American diet is centered largely around carbohydrates. High carb favorites like pizza, ice cream, and cheeseburgers are also missing many essential nutrients, which makes the American diet doubly dangerous. In fact, the scientific data has shown that when countries adopt the American diet, they quickly develop much higher rates of diabetes and other diseases.
Take Japan, for example, which has traditionally had a very low sugar, high protein diet. Filled with fish, rice, and healthy fats, for thousands of years Japanese natives enjoyed low rates of disease, and nearly completely avoided obesity. However, within 20 years of adopting the standard western diet, their diabetes rates and obesity rates soared to never before seen levels. In fact, if one were to devise a diet specifically to develop diabetes, it would likely end up looking very similar to the standard American diet.
In fact, one of the worst offenders is entirely an American tradition – soda. Soda is essentially just sugar water, even though manufacturers often try to hide this fact, with carbonation, unique marketing, and celebrity endorsements. In fact, soda is so bad that one can contains about three days’ worth of sugar. Just by taking a healthy diet, and adding in regular soda consumption, can cause consumers to develop diabetes, over time.
So what foods help with blood sugar? Simply, those low in sugar and with the most nutrients. This means low-GI vegetables, organic proteins, healthy fats, and unprocessed foods. Processing of foods is another significant factor leading to the current obesity and diabetes epidemic. The American diet is typically lowest in the foods which are the most beneficial, instead relying on empty, high-sugar concoctions, like pizza. These foods are not just bad for your glucose control – they are typically loaded with other negative elements, like dangerously high amounts of sodium. High blood pressure is another huge risk factor with the standard American diet, and currently more than 75 million people are afflicted with the disease in the United States. When it comes to weight loss, the keto diet is a great option, as it has been shown to have some of the best outcomes in numerous scientific studies.
This is likely due to low sugar content of the diet, as well as the hormonal response a keto diet provokes. Unlike the standard American diet, which relies on carbohydrates, the fat and protein rich keto diet positively impacts the hunger hormone ghrelin. This leaves consumers satisfied, and not craving more food. Since weight loss essentially boils down to ‘calories in, calories out’ – a keto approach is appealing from a wide variety of angles.
How Does The Keto Diet Impact Blood Sugar?
By contrast, the keto diet completely eschews carbohydrates and is extremely low in sugar. By focusing on the foods frequently missing from the American diet (healthy fats, low-GI vegetables, and clean sources of protein), the keto diet can lead consumers away from diseases, and towards better health outcomes. Many scientific studies have looked at the impact the keto approach has on blood sugar and have shown tremendous results.
The results are so good, in fact, that often the hardest part of getting positive outcomes is simple compliance. This means that those who follow the diet just need to follow the rules. There are so few negative effects related to the keto diet and positive blood sugar outcomes that only non-compliance can cause issues. It’s almost as if the keto diet was created solely to help consumers avoid (or reverse) type II diabetes.
Since the keto diet converts fat (not sugar) into energy, it is far better for overall blood sugar control. Terrifyingly, researchers published in the New England Journal of Medicine have correlated long-term blood sugar levels with an increased rate of developing dementia. Ever since the keto diet was developed in 1924, researchers have been experimenting with using it for highly different purposes, including epilepsy and later autism. But lately, the research has shown that a keto diet may best be used for those suffering from obesity and diabetes.
What Does The Science Say?
Overall, the scientific research behind the keto diet has been overwhelmingly positive. Numerous studies have shown that the keto diet helps lower blood sugar, fights against numerous diseases, and almost always has beneficial health outcomes. One study that followed participants for 6 months showed that keto dieters had better improvements in glycemic control, had decresed their needs for medication, and even outperformed participants following a specific low-glycemic diet. Yes, the keto diet had better glycemic outcomes than a diet specifically designed to improve glycemic conditions. In a way, it’s unbelievable.
But if you really look at the science behind the keto diet, it should be surprising at all. Another scientific study from 2013, showed that a ketogenic diet led to more improvements in blood sugar, weight loss, insulin control, and A1c, than other diets. Another study, from 2017, showed that a keto approach led to better results than a low-fat diabetes diet. Essentially the bottom line, is that a keto diet leads to better health outcomes than every other diet. Even if these diets are designed to specifically lead to weight loss, and better insulin control.
The ketogenic diet is a very popular, and extremely effective way, to lose weight. A keto approach is also great for improving your health. When you follow it properly, this high-fat, low-carb diet will increase your ketones. These ketone bodies provide an alternative energy source throughout your body, and even have an impact on your cells. These ketone bodies also are behind most of the health benefits of ketosis. During a keto diet, your body goes through many different biological adaptations. This includes lowered insulin levels and better fat burning. A ketogenic approach also means your liver will start to produce large amounts of ketones that help supply energy to your brain. However, it is usually hard to tell whether or not you’re in ketosis.
There are several ways to help identify whether or not you are currently in ketosis. By simply restricting your carbohydrates, and upping your healthy fat intake, you should enter some level of ketosis. However, if you would like a much more accurate assessment, you can monitor ketone levels in your blood, or use a urine test. However, the easiest (and most accurate) way to determine your ketone levels – is to use our clinically-backed ketone breath monitor. You’ll be done in 20 seconds, and there’s no urine testing or blood testing – just a simple breath into the device.
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