The ketogenic diet has been shown to offer a host of health benefits and has become popular for treating obesity and type 2 diabetes. While most people can adopt a keto diet, there are a few things to look out for before making this change. In this article, we will explore some of the health conditions that require a bit more planning and consideration before jumping straight into a keto lifestyle.
Following a keto diet during pregnancy is a charged topic. Some experts say that glucose from carbohydrates (which is restricted on a keto diet) is a primary source of growth for human babies. On the other hand, a few studies in animals have shown how the diet can lower the risk of gestational diabetes, a common health issue among pregnant women.
Clinical trials are limited in this area due to safety considerations. This means that there may still be a long road ahead with regards to coming to any solid conclusions. While there have been a growing number of testimonials from women who experienced healthy pregnancies while following the diet, it is best to speak to your doctor and make a decision based on what’s best for you.
If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and you take insulin to manage your blood sugar, it is essential that you work with a keto-savvy physician who can help guide you in tailoring your doses to a much lower carbohydrate intake and your improved insulin sensitivity. This is not negotiable. Keto diets are very powerful for helping to lower blood sugar all on their own. In fact, you can even put type 2 diabetes completely into remission. You don’t need to “manage” it with more and more medication. When done properly, keto can help you be free of T2D altogether. But the improvements in blood sugar happen so quickly after reducing your carb intake that you need to be informed ahead of time about how to adjust your medication doses so you don’t experience a dangerous hypoglycemic episode. (People with type 1 diabetes can follow a keto diet. They will always require a small amount of insulin, but these doses, too, will need to be adjusted based on blood sugar measurements.)
- High Blood Pressure
Keto has proven to be incredibly effective for those suffering from high blood pressure. Its low-carb menu lowers blood pressure naturally and may in some cases even normalize it over time.
The key thing to keep in mind is the double effect of following a keto diet and taking blood pressure medication. These in combination may lead to low blood pressure, as both are working to do the same thing. If you feel especially tired or sluggish, you experience dizziness or lightheadedness, and your blood pressure measures anything below 120/80, get in contact with your doctor to discuss lowering or stopping your medication altogether as you follow keto.
While much research is still needed, there is exciting upcoming work suggesting that the keto diet may play a role in increasing the substances in our bodies that manage stress, anxiety, and mood.
Mitochondrial dysfunction (the malfunctioning of structures that produce energy for cells), which has recently been linked to the aggravation of depression, could be reduced or even prevented in people who follow a ketogenic diet, by tackling the issue of energy deficiency through a process of mitochondrial biogenesis. Keto also helps to regulate insulin function and reduce oxidative stress, key to minimizing the crippling effects of depression.
It is important, however, that you follow the diet carefully, so as not to cause any nutrient deficiencies which may have adverse effects on your depression. Further, be aware of how you feel as you follow the diet – speak to a professional if the restrictive nature of keto leads to feelings of isolation, which could trigger a depressive episode.
- High-Performance Training
Athletes typically rely on a constant and steady intake of carbohydrates to keep energy levels up throughout training. On a keto diet, the body is fueled primarily by fat instead of glucose to sustain this kind of endurance. This makes the diet beneficial for marathon runners or long-distance cyclists, who need to keep their energy levels consistent for extended periods of time. However, high-intensity athletes who need quick bursts of energy for a short duration may not see the same results while following a keto diet. We advise that high-performance athletes work closely with a nutritionist or keto expert to design a plan to suit their specific needs.
Always remember to speak to a healthcare professional before embarking on a substantial lifestyle change. If keto is the way you’d like to go, make sure you find someone who specializes in the diet and can guide you safely through your own, unique journey.