The Keto Diet and Inflammation


Inflammation is another medical term for immune activity. Immune activity means a combination of platelets, cytokines, white blood cells, as well as other immune particles. This is usually released when there’s an injury, illness, or infection. Acute inflammation has several signs when you have a wound. The area becomes red, blood clots are formed, then scab, until the wound heals completely. The immune system guards you against various threats throughout your life. There are cases though when it is on high alert and your body doesn’t need it. This is known as chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation results in damage and it increases the risk of many illnesses. Many factors cause inflammation. The major ones are aging, sleep deprivation, lack of exercise, cigarette smoking, and high-sugar diets.


Health Conditions Associated with Chronic Inflammation


According to the WHO, the number 1 threat to the human species is inflammatory diseases. These diseases include diabetes, heart disease, celiac disease, cancer, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and Alzheimer’s disease. 


Reducing Inflammation


If you want to ensure that inflammation is kept low, you can start with your diet. You have to limit your intake of refined sugar, but when you limit your carb intake, this will give you an extra push against inflammation because of several reasons:


Controllled blood sugar


Increased blood sugar levels also increase the body’s insulin levels and oxidative stress, increasing inflammation. One of the best ways to reduce your blood sugar is to restrict your carb intake. Carbs increase blood sugar compared to protein and fat. Another thing is that by keeping your blood sugar low, you also activate the anti-inflammatory gene known as CtBP.


Anti-inflammatory ketones


When on keto and you start to restrict your carb intake, your liver starts to burn fat and create ketones. These ketones function as backup fuel for the body and brain. But more than that, they also function as anti-inflammatory signaling molecules. Ketones are known to inhibit inflammatory pathways called the NLRP3 inflammasome.


More GABA, less glutamate in the brain


GABA and glutamate are chemicals that can regulate brain activity. GABA is relaxative while glutamate can excite. Too much inflammation in the body may change glutamate signaling and bring about neurological dysfunction. Keto has been seen to increase GABA levels and suppress glutamate too. This is why the keto diet is seen to be a promising therapy for Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, and other diseases that are caused by brain inflammation. 


 Ketosis and how it reduces inflammation


Ketosis is the body’s metabolic state wherein it uses fat for energy instead of the standard sugars that are found in foods that are loaded with carbs. This enables you to burn fat quickly and enjoy the health benefits that come with it. 


So when your body is in the state of ketosis, it burns fats for fuel instead of using sugar which happens to be inflammatory. When your body has excess sugars, this may cause the following: increased inflammation, more free radical production, chronic diseases that bring you chronic pain, and high amounts of insulin produced. 


Inflammation and chronic pain


Much of the pain we feel every day is caused by inflammation. A high amount of inflammation is the reason behind diabetes, arthritis, and nerve damage which can cause extreme pain. Many factors can cause chronic inflammation such as a sedentary lifestyle, toxins, stress, and toxins like the ones found in tobacco smoke. If these conditions run in the family, these can happen to you more quickly. What you opt to put into your body in the form of food has an effect on the body’s inflammation levels. 


Ketosis not only helps in reducing inflammation; it also helps ease the pain brought about by increased adenosine levels and decreased nervous system activity. When the body is in ketosis, three specific ketone bodies are released. The most important ketone of the three is beta-hydroxybutyrate. According to research, beta-hydroxybutyrate blocks the body’s immune system receptors associated with inflammation. 


Keto-friendly foods and inflammation


Traditionally, doctors have prescribed medications to reduce body inflammation. In recent years, special diets have influenced the way doctors treat their chronic inflammation patients. Sugary foods and drinks and refined carbs are known for being major contributors to inflammation. Since these foods are on the restricted list of the keto diet, it is more likely for a person who follows the keto diet to experience reduced inflammation. 


With keto, you are asked to consume high-quality foods which also help reduce inflammation. Examples of these are organic dairy products, organic eggs, coconut oil, avocado oil, organic meats and poultry, and foods that are loaded with omega-3 like salmon, oyster, and avocado. 


Some food and drinks must be avoided too when you aim to reduce inflammation. These include coffee, processed meats, alcohol, vegetable and seed oils, and processed or packaged foods even if they are keto-approved. Examples of processed meats are bacon, sausage, lunchmeats, and ham. 


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