The Keto Diet and Bone Health

The keto diet is high in fat which is at 75 percent, moderate in protein at 25 percent, and low in carbs at 5 percent. Since glucose is restricted in the diet, the body is brought to a metabolic state called ketosis. This compels the body to burn fat for energy instead of carbs. This results in acid buildup which is eliminated through the urine. However, when ketosis brings too much acid buildup for the body to handle, it can become a life-threatening condition called ketoacidosis. 


The diet prohibits the intake of grains, sugars, fruits, and vegetables. Those who follow the diet must eat a lot of healthy fats from eggs, olive oil, avocado, nuts, and even butter, poultry, and beef. People have different reasons for following keto. Others want to lose weight while some are after fat loss and an increase in muscle mass. 


What to Know Before You Start the Keto Diet


Many people experience flu-like symptoms for up to two weeks while their bodies try to adapt to ketosis. This diet may wreak havoc on your electrolyte levels. With less than normal electrolytes, your kidneys can suffer and this may also cause irregular heartbeat. You’ll be prone to dehydration under keto and this may increase the risk. The keto may reduce bone density as well. A study done on athletes showed that a low-carb and high-fat diet reduces the body’s ability to make new bone and this too can increase bone breakdown. What makes it worse is that even after the athletes returned to eating carbs, not all functions returned to normal. 


How to Measure Bone Health


Bones start to turn thin as we age. They become brittle, less dense, and easy to break. When this process advances, it may lead to osteoporosis or severe bone loss if not osteopenia or low bone mass. About 200 million people are affected by osteoporosis worldwide. This results in over 8.9 million fractures yearly. How would you measure poor bone health? This can be measured using a bone scan machine called dual X-ray absorptiometry or DEXA. Your bone density is measured by this machine. If your bone density values are lower compared to the right reference population, you’re likely to be diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia. 


Is Keto Safe When It Comes to Bone Health?


To date, there’s no study that provides evidence of keto being harmful to bone health. A 2017 study done on children with epilepsy revealed that active children have lower bone mineral density compared to those who are less active. Nonetheless, there’s also strong evidence that anti-epileptic drugs can reduce bone mineral density. This means that the results of this study may not be applicable to other groups of individuals like adults who suffer from epilepsy. In contrast, you can find numerous studies involving hundreds of participants that show the keto diet as not having adverse effects on bone health compared to other diets. 


Preserving Bone Health While on Keto


Whether you’re an endurance athlete or just an ordinary fitness lover, don’t rely on guesswork when it comes to bone health. It helps to measure your bone mineral density yearly using the DEXA. Senior citizens are advised to undergo DEXA scans. You can look for bone clinics if this service is not part of your insurance coverage. Aside from the bone mineral density, you’ll also find out more about your body fat and lean body mass percentage. If you want to keep your bone mineral density high as you get older, you must do resistance training. Research has shown that consuming a lot of protein is beneficial to bone health. When you’re on keto, make sure that 25 percent of the calories come from protein. When you’re physically active, you can even have more. You may also take whey protein for a post-workout supplement. According to research, collagen protein is highly effective in increasing bone mineral density. 


Sugar and Bone Health


Some foods are known to cause inflammation and arthritis. These are refined carbs, sugar, alcohol, and trans fats. Inflammation has a major role to play in chronic diseases and diminished bone health. Studies revealed that eating moderate or excessive amounts of sugar can contribute to a surge of inflammation in the body causing arthritis. It’s recommended for people with arthritis to reduce their sugar consumption, and this is a given when you’re following the keto diet.


Keto and Inflammation


On the other hand, gout is a kind of inflammatory arthritis that affects a single joint at a time. Gout appears because of high levels of uric acid in the blood. According to studies, high sugar consumption can increase the serum uric acid levels. 


A lot of people reported life-changing effects of the keto diet on conditions related to bone health such as rheumatoid arthritis. This can be attributed to the anti-inflammatory effects of the keto diet. Research has proven that the keto diet can reduce inflammation in the body and improve pain. Fatty acids are abundant when you follow a keto diet and these can have positive effects on the immune cell functions that can help with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. 


What Nutrients Can Make the Bones Healthy?


Apart from calcium and vitamin D, what other vitamins and nutrients can help with bone health? There is a dearth of research studies about nutrition; and as a result, you can’t find a definitive answer to what nutrients are identified for improving bone health or preventing bone loss. But so far these have been identified:


Protein is one of them. Remember that collagen is what makes up the framework of your bone. There’s a possible link between increased protein intake and improved bone health. More protein consumption may also help in preventing bone loss and hip fractures among senior adults. Based on current research, high protein consumption may also prevent an age-related condition called sarcopenia, or the loss of muscle mass, function, strength, and independence. 


It is also worth mentioning potassium, vitamin K, vitamin C, and magnesium as nutrients that are instrumental in improving bone health.