Good fats make a fabulous comeback
by Chris Gursche
My interest in ketones was stoked by the positive results people with Alzheimer’s were achieving by combining coconut oil and medium chain triglycerides (MCT) oil. My father had come up with a formula and was selling it, but he couldn’t say how it worked. Dr. Mary Newport, author of Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was a Cure? – The Story of Ketones, used the same formula with her husband who had early onset Alzheimer’s. She connected with Dr. Richard Veech, a senior investigator in the Intramural Research Program (IRP) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), who enlightened her to the power of ketones.
Ketones have the advantage over glucose in that they don’t require insulin to drive energy creation. That makes ketones particularly useful in circumstances of insulin resistance, like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS. Recent work indicates ketones may prove to be beneficial in cases of MS and glaucoma.
Eating ketogenically creates lean bodies and has been shown to reduce chronic inflammation. It offers amazing benefits for those with type 2 diabetes, restoring insulin sensitivity and potentially reversing the disease. Combined with calorie restriction, it is an effective treatment for cancer that can work in conjunction with standard oncology.
When certain fats are disassembled in the liver, the basic molecular units formed are energy units for the body. Fat is, after all, nature’s most potent form of energy storage. Whereas one gram of carbohydrates or protein will generate four calories of energy, one gram of fat generates nine. When a bunch of those energy units are created all at once, they acidify the local environment in the liver. To get the body back to homeostasis, two of these units are hooked together, forming a ketone.
A ketone is water soluble, allowing it to be transported in the blood. It can also cross the blood brain barrier, which makes it a suitable fuel for the brain. Scientists used to think the brain could only use glucose as fuel. But then the question arose: “What happens during times of prolonged fast?” It turns out the brain uses ketones to fuel its activities.
One way of generating ketones is to ingest medium chain fats or alpha linolenic acid (ALA), the parent omega 3 fat found in camelina, chia and flax oils. Straight MCT oil creates ketones fastest, but they also diminish quickly. If ketones are not used to create energy, they are expelled from the body through respiration or urinary elimination. That’s right; you eat certain fats and when you don’t need them, they leave.
Another way of generating ketones is to change your eating patterns. While there is a variation of what is termed ketogenic in the scientific literature, if you consume 75% of your daily energy as fat – particularly medium chain and omega 3 and 6 – 15% as proteins and 10% as carbohydrates, you will be in a state of ketone creation, or ketosis. You will be training your body to create energy from fat, rather than glucose.
Ketogenic eating is not the same as a paleo diet or Atkins. The first difference is there are no imposed restrictions in ketogenic eating other than maintaining the carbohydrate and protein targets. Limited protein is the biggest factor that sets ketogenic eating apart from the Atkins diet. Excess protein is turned to fat, creating stinky nitrogenous waste.
With ketogenic eating, you get to eat what fits you. You can be vegan – although this will take some work – vegetarian or omnivore. You can be dairy free or gluten free, whatever suits you best.
The biggest drawback to ketogenic eating is the love affair our culture has with carbohydrates. Most traditional breakfast foods require carbs, as do the majority of snacks. It is challenging when eating out to avoid sugars or starches. Some planning for success is required. The benefits of a reduced waist size, reduced inflammation, clearer thinking and more energy are certainly worth it.
Chris GurscheChris Gursche is in charge of product development at Alpha Health Products (firstname.lastname@example.org). He is currently publishing a ketogenic cookbook, Ketogenesis, 30 Days to a New, Thinner, Healthier You, which can be pre-ordered at ketogenisis.ca
coconut photo © Pipa100
1 thought on “Ketones for health”
I enjoy all this information about ketones and good fats and want to encourage people to learn more about this as they deal with debilitating diseases and strive for better health. Food has the power to heal and is always the better choice over manufactured drugs! I would love to get my hands on a vegan ketogenic cookbook, if I can ever find one!