Anti-Inflammatory Effects Of A Ketogenic Diet

Many are aware that ketogenic diets offer a plethora of health benefits.1,2,3,4,5 Among the ketogenic diet’s best properties are its anti-inflammatory effects.6,7 However, despite the emerging popularity of the diet, the scientific community is still relatively uncertain about the exact beneficial mechanisms behind this dietary approach.8,9,10 Recently however, a new study was published which looked at the potential mechanisms underlying the specific anti-inflammatory properties of ketosis.11

Anti-Inflammatory Effects of a Ketogenic Diet | The Paleo Diet

For those unfamiliar, a ketogenic diet is one which contains very little – if any – carbohydrate.12 One classic example of this dietary approach is seen in the Inuit people.13 The Inuit are indigenous people, who live in the Arctic region.14 Alaska, Canada and Greenland all have Inuit populations.15 In one of the more famous nutrition stories of recent times, Dr. Vilhjalmur Stefansson ate nothing but meat for one year, after being inspired by living with the Inuit, and seeing their remarkably low rate of disease.16,17,18 This was despite the Inuit’s (then) controversial diet of nothing but meat, whether it came from fish or other sources. Stefansson saw no ill effects from a year of an all meat diet, with basically zero carbohydrate. He also consumed no vegetables. It is worth noting, that he also became very ill when he consumed only low fat meat, and nothing else. When he added the fattier meat back in, he immediately felt better.

The many reported benefits of the ketogenic diet include, but are not limited to: less hunger while dieting, improved cognitive function in those who are cognitively impaired, improved LDL cholesterol levels, improved weight loss, and improved levels of HDL cholesterol.19 This is in addition to the aforementioned anti-inflammatory effects. When we look to the scientific literature, we see that the anti-inflammatory nature of the diet has been studied for many years.20,21,22,23,24 The ketogenic diet has also been established as an adequate anticonvulsant therapy.25

This newly published research looks specifically at the ketone metabolite beta-hydroxybutyrate, which seems to inhibit the NLRP3 inflammasome.26 Since the NLRP3 inflammasome was previously found to have been linked to obesity and inflammation, as well as insulin resistance, inhibiting it would make mechanistic sense.27 The resultant weight loss and anti-inflammatory effects, commonly seem (at least anecdotally) when adopting a ketogenic diet, would then make sense as well. The NLRP3 inflammasome also drives the inflammatory response in several disorders including autoimmune diseases, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, and autoinflammatory disorders.28,29

Anti-Inflammatory Effects of a Ketogenic Diet | The Paleo Diet

Anti-Inflammatory Effects of a Ketogenic Diet | The Paleo Diet

Could it all be so simple? Possibly, though there is certainly likely more to be more scientific discoveries, relating to the beneficial effects of this specific dietary approach. Moving away from glucose and instead utilizing ketone bodies as a source of metabolic fuel, results in many profound changes, of which we are only beginning to scratch the surface of, scientifically.30,31,32

This new discovery will likely be the first of many new findings regarding the ketogenic diet, and its abundance of benefits. If you are looking to adopt a ketogenic approach, simply follow the many nutritious tenets of the Paleo Diet, and then lower your carbohydrate intake to below 100g per day. How low you need to go for optimum quality of life is highly variant, and many people report different results with different amounts of carbohydrates. Dialing in the best nutrition plan for you, when adopting a ketogenic diet, is integral. Be sure to consult with a professional to avoid possible nutrient deficiencies.

+ REFERENCES

[1] Dashti HM, Mathew TC, Hussein T, et al. Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients. Exp Clin Cardiol. 2004;9(3):200-5.

[2] Paoli A. Ketogenic diet for obesity: friend or foe?. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014;11(2):2092-107.

[3] Zajac A, Poprzecki S, Maszczyk A, Czuba M, Michalczyk M, Zydek G. The effects of a ketogenic diet on exercise metabolism and physical performance in off-road cyclists. Nutrients. 2014;6(7):2493-508.

[4] Hussain TA, Mathew TC, Dashti AA, Asfar S, Al-zaid N, Dashti HM. Effect of low-calorie versus low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet in type 2 diabetes. Nutrition. 2012;28(10):1016-21.

[5] Millichap JG, Yee MM. The diet factor in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Pediatrics. 2012;129(2):330-7.

[6] Schugar RC, Crawford PA. Low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets, glucose homeostasis, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2012;15(4):374-80.

[7] Masino SA, Kawamura M, Wasser CD, Wasser CA, Pomeroy LT, Ruskin DN. Adenosine, ketogenic diet and epilepsy: the emerging therapeutic relationship between metabolism and brain activity. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2009;7(3):257-68.

[8] Poff AM, Ari C, Seyfried TN, D’agostino DP. The ketogenic diet and hyperbaric oxygen therapy prolong survival in mice with systemic metastatic cancer. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(6):e65522.

[9] Krilanovich NJ. Benefits of ketogenic diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(1):238-9.

[10] Mandel A, Ballew M, Pina-Garza JE, Stalmasek V, Clemens LH. Medical costs are reduced when children with intractable epilepsy are successfully treated with the ketogenic diet. J Am Diet Assoc 2002;102:396–8.

[11] Youm YH, Nguyen KY, Grant RW, et al. The ketone metabolite β-hydroxybutyrate blocks NLRP3 inflammasome-mediated inflammatory disease. Nat Med. 2015;

[12] Rogovik AL, Goldman RD. Ketogenic diet for treatment of epilepsy. Can Fam Physician. 2010;56(6):540-2.

[13] Phinney SD. Ketogenic diets and physical performance. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2004;1(1):2.

[14] Bjerregaard P, Dewailly E, Young TK, et al. Blood pressure among the Inuit (Eskimo) populations in the Arctic. Scand J Public Health. 2003;31(2):92-9.

[15] Helgason A, Pálsson G, Pedersen HS, et al. mtDNA variation in Inuit populations of Greenland and Canada: migration history and population structure. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2006;130(1):123-34.

[16] Stefansson V: Not by bread alone. The MacMillan Co, NY 1946. Introductions by Eugene F. DuBois, MD, pp ix-xiii; and Earnest Hooton PhD, ScD, pp xv-xvi.

[17] McClellan WS, DuBois EF: Clinical calorimetry XLV: Prolonged meat diets with a study of kidney function and ketosis. J Biol Chem 1930, 87:651-68.

[18] McClellan WS, Rupp VR, Toscani V: Clinical calorimetry XLVI: prolonged meat diets with a study of the metabolism of nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. J Biol Chem 1930, 87:669-80.

[19] Pérez-guisado J. [Ketogenic diets: additional benefits to the weight loss and unfounded secondary effects]. Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2008;58(4):323-9.

[20] Yang X, Cheng B. Neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory activities of ketogenic diet on MPTP-induced neurotoxicity. J Mol Neurosci. 2010;42(2):145-53.

[21] Masino SA, Kawamura M, Wasser CD, Wasser CA, Pomeroy LT, Ruskin DN. Adenosine, ketogenic diet and epilepsy: the emerging therapeutic relationship between metabolism and brain activity. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2009;7(3):257-68.

[22] Gasior M, Rogawski MA, Hartman AL. Neuroprotective and disease-modifying effects of the ketogenic diet. Behav Pharmacol. 2006;17(5-6):431-9.

[23] Kim do Y, Hao J, Liu R, Turner G, Shi FD, Rho JM. Inflammation-mediated memory dysfunction and effects of a ketogenic diet in a murine model of multiple sclerosis. PLoS ONE. 2012;7(5):e35476.

[24] Masino SA, Ruskin DN. Ketogenic diets and pain. J Child Neurol. 2013;28(8):993-1001.

[25] Bough KJ, Rho JM. Anticonvulsant mechanisms of the ketogenic diet. Epilepsia. 2007;48(1):43-58.

[26] Youm YH, Nguyen KY, Grant RW, et al. The ketone metabolite β-hydroxybutyrate blocks NLRP3 inflammasome-mediated inflammatory disease. Nat Med. 2015;

[27] Vandanmagsar B, Youm YH, Ravussin A, et al. The NLRP3 inflammasome instigates obesity-induced inflammation and insulin resistance. Nat Med. 2011;17(2):179-88.

[28] Menu P, Vince JE. The NLRP3 inflammasome in health and disease: the good, the bad and the ugly. Clin Exp Immunol. 2011;166(1):1-15.

[29] Zhou R, Yazdi AS, Menu P, Tschopp J. A role for mitochondria in NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Nature. 2011;469(7329):221-5.

[30] Guzmán M, Blázquez C. Ketone body synthesis in the brain: possible neuroprotective effects. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2004;70(3):287-92.

[31] Laffel L. Ketone bodies: a review of physiology, pathophysiology and application of monitoring to diabetes. Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 1999;15(6):412-26.

[32] Henderson ST. Ketone bodies as a therapeutic for Alzheimer’s disease. Neurotherapeutics. 2008;5(3):470-80.

This article originally appeared on The Paleo Diet.