Throughout history, there have been sudden explosions of knowledge that change the way people think about science, health and medicine. Today, several major transformations are underway. One of these developments is the understanding of ketones.
So… what exactly are ketones? Simply, a ketone is a special form of fat – that has almost miraculous properties. Ketones may hold the key to curing some of the toughest medical problems known to medicine… such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, heart failure, age-related muscle loss, cancer and chronic pain.
This article will explain how ketones protect the brain, heart and gastrointestinal tract. In fact, we’ll discuss how the ketogenic diet – along with getting enough exercise – can actually slow the aging process and help cure chronic pain.
EXPLAINING KETONES AND THE KETOGENIC DIET
The word “ketone” refers to a special class of short-chain fatty acids such as beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) and acetoacetate (ACA). These special fats are produced during vigorous exercise, serious illness, starvation and fasting – all conditions that force the body to metabolize longer chain fatty acid into short chain ketones. This magic happens mostly in the liver.
The ketogenic diet refers to the kind of fuel that your body burns. Normally, food that works its way through the digestive tract is converted to sugar (glucose) which travels through the bloodstream. The pancreas secretes insulin to regulate the level of glucose in the blood… when this regulation mechanism fails, your blood sugar can skyrocket and the result is Type II diabetes.
Under normal circumstances, the circulating glucose enters the cell and is steered to the mitochondria. The mitochondria can be thought of like a car engine… they use glucose to power the body instead of gasoline like your car. The problem with this process is that it generates large numbers of free radicals – which damages all tissues that come in contact with them.
A much better way to power the body is through the Ketogenic diet. When ketones are burned as fuel, much fewer waste products and free radicals are generated. You can think of it this way: Using ketones for cellular energy generation is the difference between burning kerosene (glucose) in your sports car versus a high-octane gasoline (ketones). Recent studies have found that BHB given intravenously caused blood flow to the brain to increase by 30 percent… and brain utilization of glucose decreased by 14 percent.
What this means is that those brains were using mostly ketones for energy… and were functioning at a higher level.
Basically, there are two ways to promote the Ketogenic process in your body. The first method is to change your diet to one similar to the Atkins diet. It is a rather stringent diet consisting of:
- High Protein
- High Fats (Saturated animal fats, monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, medium chain triglycerides found in coconut oil and hemp seed)
- Low carbs
- Low or no sugar
- No grains
The ketogenic diet typically consists of about a 4:1 ratio of fats to combined proteins and carbohydrates. Optimally, this translates to 80% fats, 15% proteins and only 5% carbohydrates and sugars.
Some people starting this kind of diet will suffer from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and will feel very poorly… possibly light-headed.
The second way to benefit from the Ketogenic diet is to take the ketones as a supplement rather than through this stringent diet. It avoids problems such as low blood sugar. There are many ketone supplements available, both as liquids and as dry powders. The safest is a BHB supplement called “magnesium ketone”, which is dissolved in water and has a somewhat fruity taste.
Another effective supplement is MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil such as coconut oil. The MCT oil gives a smoother release of ketones and is converted to BHB in the liver. The main problem with MCT oil is that at higher doses it can cause stomach cramping… so it is best taken with a full meal (cooking with coconut oil is delicious as well as very healthy) and can be mixed into any liquid. Try using coconut oil in coffee instead of chemical creamers – you’ll probably love it!
Carbohydrates tend to switch off ketone generation – yet these supplements are not affected by reasonable amounts of dietary carbs. Still, it’s a good idea to reduce carbohydrate intake – especially breads, pasta, sugars, pastries, candy and sweetened drinks – especially regular and diet soda.
WHAT KETONES DO FOR THE BODY…
The list of benefits from the ketogenic diet is long and rather amazing:
- Ketones protect the brain: the human brain uses 20 % of the body’s oxygen and 25% of the glucose. When the brain utilizes BHB instead of glucose (this was not known until recently), the result is more efficient production of ATP energy molecules than with dietary carbohydrates. This is highly effective to treat epileptic seizures. It also improves the symptoms of many neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Indeed, Alzheimer’s is often referred to as “Type 3 diabetes”, and by burning ketones in the brain, insulin is not involved. Another bonus is that it reduces brain inflammation by suppressing microglial cells from the brain’s immune response system.
- Frailty is a symptom of aging in which the muscles atrophy, organ function deteriorates and memory is impaired. In most cases, attempts to build muscle and slow muscle loss in the elderly are unsuccessful. On recent study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that a combination of MCT oil with branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and vitamin D3 significantly improved muscle strength and muscle mass in previously frail elderly people.
- Ketones benefit those suffering from heart failure: like the brain, the heart is highly energy-dependent and uses glucose for its main fuel. Also, like the brain, heart muscle can also burn ketones for fuel. As we just discovered above, this is a cleaner burning reaction that produces less waste and produces less inflammation in heart muscle. Blood supply to the heart muscle also increases by 75%, which is a dramatic improvement. Inflammation in the heart muscle is reduced and mortality is reduced by 40%.
- The Gastrointestinal Tract is protected: inflammation of the intestines has become a major problem in developed countries. Recent studies have shown that ketones can reduce intestinal inflammation and repair damage to the gut lining, which is responsible for “leaky gut syndrome”… in effect, there are holes in your intestines that allow toxins from food to pass directly into your bloodstream instead of being filtered out. Ketones also improve the amount of beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiome – which has been shown to help with weight loss.
- The ketogenic diet could offer a non-pharmacological way to reduce pain and inflammation, according to the Journal of Child Neurology article entitled Ketogenic Diets and Pain. Studies in rats have shown that thermal pain from a hotplate is markedly reduced… which probably translates to less pain in the real world. A chemical called adenosine, which is used in nerve pathways to conduct impulses, markedly increased on this diet. The adenosine is a potent anti-inflammatory compound. Since one of the primary factors in chronic pain is inflammation, the result should be less overall pain.
BENEFICIAL FATS HAVE GOTTEN A BAD RAP!
In 1956, a major cooking oil company publishes a series of magazine ads claiming that “fried foods became light foods” when vegetable oil is used in place of butter or lard. The clear message to health-savvy homemakers was that vegetable oil was a low calorie solution to more traditional fats they were cooking with. Millions of well-meaning cooks took this bait and made the switch thinking their families would be healthier.
Fast-forward 60 years and this cooking oil marketing blitz was a tremendous success. Vegetable oils continue to be the go-to fat in fried and processed foods. Marketers still claim that they’re better for human health than animal fats because they contain no cholesterol and are not saturated.
But… the latest science shows that this “golden goodness” that’s being dumped into deep fryers, drizzled on salads and poured into frying pans isn’t exactly the health boon that industrial processors have long claimed it is. So-called “heart-healthy” cooking oils (soy, canola, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower, corn, peanut) just so happen to be among the leading causes of heart disease and cancer in America today. Why? It turns out that that these oils are often rancid due to heavy processing and oxidation. For example: canola oil is extracted from the rapeseed plant with the use of hexane (which is in your car’s gas tank!) and processed at very high temperatures to complete the process. These oils are very high in Omega-6 fatty acids, which are pro-inflammatory. Also, these oils undergo hydrogenation to make them solid and creamy at room temperature – which creates very unhealthy trans fats. It turns out that these vegetable oils are associated with cancers of the breast, colon and more. They damage the GI tract, suppress the immune system, cause liver problems, directly cause atherosclerosis, diabetes and obesity.
So, what cooking oils are good for you? Reverting back to animal fats, as well as olive oil and coconut oil (MCT oil) is a surefire way to avoid the pitfalls of vegetable oil consumption. Contrary to popular belief, saturated fats are not responsible for clogging your arteries and promoting heart disease – vegetable oils are!
According to Dr. Josh Axe, a leading expert in progressive health and nutrition, unsaturated fat makes up 74% of the fat that is found in clogged arteries… and more than half of that is polyunsaturated fat.
The best oils you can use for cooking, as extensively corroborated by the renowned Weston A. Price Foundation, include:
- Butter (preferably grass-fed butter that is darker yellow in color)
- Tallow and suet from both beef and lamb (pastured with no hormones or antibiotics)
- Lard from pigs (again…no hormones or antibiotics)
- Chicken, goose or duck fat (no hormones or antibiotics used)
- Coconut, palm and palm kernel oils
- Olive oil – but don’t heat it to the flash point where it begins to smoke or it will oxidize.
If your chronic neck pain is giving you more grief than you can handle, try these suggestions:
- Try intermittent fasting such as eating for 8 hours, then fasting for 16 hours daily to promote ketosis.
- Try a BHB (beta-hydroxybutyrate) supplement such as Magnesium Ketones or Ketoforce
- Eat lots of protein and healthy fats – avoid carbohydrates and sugars.
- Exercise regularly, even if you don’t feel like you should or can. Walking is fine… along with healthy stretches. See my exercise video here.
If this information is useful and you would like more tips and tricks to deal with chronic neck pain, please visit stopneckpain.wpengine.com.