Short-term results for the LGIT indicate that at one month approximately half of the patients experience a greater than 50% reduction in seizure frequency, with overall figures approaching that of the ketogenic diet. The data (coming from one centre's experience with 76 children up to the year 2009) also indicate fewer side effects than the ketogenic diet and that it is better tolerated, with more palatable meals.
But beyond that, experts aren't convinced that the keto diet has any other scientifically-proven health benefits. In fact, it may have some distinct downsides. If you follow the keto diet incorrectly, for example (like by eating lots of saturated fats, versus healthy unsaturated fats), you're at risk of raising your cholesterol levels. “The best strategy to keep your heart healthy is to get as much fat as possible from unsaturated sources such as olive, avocado and canola oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, and olives," says Ansel.
Swanson, a professor of neurology who has researched the impacts of ketogenic diets on inflammation in the brain, got curious about the ketogenic diet when trying to treat the inflammation that persists for days after a person suffers a stroke. When he tried inducing a ketogenic state in mice with stroke injuries, he said, “I was overwhelmed by the effect.” Blocking glucose metabolism worked to suppress inflammatory genes, which in turn helped stroke healing.
The magical mushrooms of 2018 aren’t the psychedelic variety, but instead, are showing up in supplemental pills, teas and coffee, and even chocolate. The variety of mushrooms used in these products are said to be adaptogens, natural substances that help your body respond to various stressors. Some studies suggest that adaptogens can help boost your energy, immunity and ability to concentrate. But there’s a catch: Supplements may be inappropriate for certain people (such as those on medications for diabetes or high blood pressure) and we only have short-term info about their safety. As you know, even natural substances can be toxic, and one study found that a form of mushroom powder led to liver damage, so run any supplements by your doctor or dietitian before making them part of your wellness routine.
Note: Because you'll be excluding some major food groups on the keto diet (grains, many fruits) you should definitely think about taking a multivitamin—especially one that contains folic acid, which helps your body make new cells and is often found in enriched breads, cereals, and other grain products, says Julie Upton, R.D., cofounder of nutrition website Appetite for Health.
Science repeatedly backs up this claim. A recent study published by Plos One followed members of a hunter-gatherer tribe in Northern Tanzania. Researchers obtained physical activity, metabolic and nutrition data and compared it with the average Jack and Jill who indulge in the common Western diet. What they found was that the tribe members are comparable in every way except for their nutrition habits. Rather than the fat and calorie-laden diets we typically enjoy, they eat only whole, natural foods. The study’s findings are simple and common. Basically, you can keep running 5Ks or Sweatin' to the Oldies, but chances are high that results will be disappointing unless you change what and how much you’re eating. To get healthy and stay that way, the trend has to continue -- not just for a week or a month, but for the long-term.
"The keto diet is primarily used to help reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in children. While it also has been tried for weight loss, only short-term results have been studied, and the results have been mixed. We don't know if it works in the long term, nor whether it's safe," warns registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.
There’s also some evidence that it might help with type 2 diabetes. “An emerging body of research is finding that a keto plan may have some real benefits thanks to its ability to improve the body’s ability to use insulin and also help control appetite, which can result in easier weight loss,” says Karen Ansel, R.D.N., co-author of Healthy in a Hurry.
Advocates for the diet recommend that it be seriously considered after two medications have failed, as the chance of other drugs succeeding is only 10%. The diet can be considered earlier for some epilepsy and genetic syndromes where it has shown particular usefulness. These include Dravet syndrome, infantile spasms, myoclonic-astatic epilepsy, and tuberous sclerosis complex.
And another thing: Sit less throughout the day. A 2012 study published in the journal Diabetologia revealed that the more sedentary you are, the more you increase your risk of heart disease (as well as diabetes). “When we sit for long periods, enzymes in the postural muscles change. This affects how the body metabolizes glucose and lipids, which leads to higher levels of bad cholesterol and glucose, among other things,” says Emma Wilmot, Ph.D., of the University of Leicester, in England, the lead researcher of the study. Avoid sitting for more than two hours at a stretch. To cut down on sitting time, stand during coffee breaks; set a timer to go off every hour, then get up and move around for a few minutes; or switch to a height-adjustable desk and stand periodically as you work.
If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you'll lose weight. But when you're hungry all the time, eating fewer calories can be a challenge. "Studies show people who eat 4-5 meals or snacks per day are better able to control their appetite and weight," says obesity researcher Rebecca Reeves, DrPH, RD. She recommends dividing your daily calories into smaller meals or snacks and enjoying most of them earlier in the day -- dinner should be the last time you eat.