Why is the ketogenic diet so important for so many people?

There are some people who even though they eat lots of carbs do not gain weight and do not have problems with their blood sugar.  These people are genetically able to handle the high levels of carbohydrate without it causing them any problems.  But sadly, most people are just not doing well with this diet.  Obesity and diabetes have been on the rise for the past 40 years and all estimates are that they will continue to rise.  Heart disease and strokes kill over a million people every year.  Allergies and autoimmune problems are on the rise.  Type II diabetes is affecting more and more children, even though it was originally called adult onset diabetes.  It was an extremely rare condition 100 years ago, but is now an epidemic that is destroying our health and the health of our children and could bankrupt our health care system.

The amount of sugar that is circulating in our blood stream at any one point is very small and very strictly controlled.  If you took all of the sugar out of your blood at any moment, it would amount to about  a teaspoon of sugar.  If the level goes up even slightly, all sorts of nasty changes start to happen that can lead to blindness, heart disease, strokes, kidney failure, and amputation of extremities.  If the level goes down even slightly our brain starts to lose its ability to function.  Insulin is the hormone that our body uses to regulate the level of blood sugar.  Insulin triggers our cells to take sugar in from the blood and store it as fat.  Think of insulin as a key that opens a door in the cell so sugar can enter the cell and be converted to fat.

Type I diabetes is caused when the body is unable to make enough insulin.  The blood sugar goes up and all of those nasty consequences mentioned above start to happen.  These people take insulin injections to control their blood sugar.  Type I diabetes has been around for many years.  There are a small percentage of people who have this disease, but it is not what is causing the current epidemic.

Type II diabetes is very different.  People with this problem are not low in insulin.   Remember the analogy of a key that I used earlier.  In this type of diabetes, the key does not work so well and in order to get the sugar out of the blood and into the cell, the body has to produce 2 to 10 times more insulin than normal.  Another way of putting it is that the cells become resistant to this hormone so the body has to create much more.  This high level of insulin causes many other health problems:  inflammation, fat storage, and uric acid build up, to name the most significant.  This leads to many of the diseases of modern civilization:  heart disease, strokes, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, joint deterioration, depression, fatigue, gout, and kidney stones.

In the ketogenic diet, by lowering our dietary carbs, we force our body to use the fat burning pathway.  As a result, the need for insulin is greatly reduced.  Our blood sugar and insulin values go back to normal, and our bodies get very good at burning our own fat, and we lose weight and inches.  We start making more “good” cholesterol and less “bad” cholesterol which improved our circulation and lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke.  Our immune system is in balance, our sex hormones normalize, our joints and muscles are less inflamed, our energy is increased and our mental state is more balanced.  Here is a partial list of health issues that have responded well to the ketogenic diet: