History is one of my favorite subjects.
It shines a light on who we are as individuals, and how we all relate in the grand scheme of things. And most importantly, history serves as a time-tested guide, directing us toward taking the life paths that are in our best interest.
But the phrase, “History repeats itself,” also illustrates how often mankind ignores these vital, invaluable lessons. And I’ve certainly found this to be true in the practice of medicine.
Take the ketogenic—or keto—diet, for example. Today, the keto diet is one of the hottest buzzwords in the health and weight loss industry.
However, the concept of ketogenic dieting has been in practice for a very long time, and it has quite an interesting history. But even more impressive is the role it plays in chronic disease.
This diet isn’t just about prevention, which is what you hear most when people talk about diet and its relation to illness. What makes the keto diet remarkable is its ability to actually reverse chronic diseases—including some of today’s biggest killer epidemics.
Let’s dive into what makes this time-tested diet plan so effective, and how you can adopt it to live a longer, healthier life.
A brief history of the ketogenic diet
Since about 500 BC, the keto diet was used in Ancient Greece to reverse disease, particularly epilepsy. In 1899, Bernarr Macfadden, a health guru, published a magazine titled Physical Culture, extoling the health-restoring benefits of the keto diet, which subsequently became wildly popular throughout the U.S. 1
Then scientific research began to emerge. In 1911, the first study published on the medical value of this diet in treating epilepsy was in France, with very high success rates. Throughout the 1920s, a number of studies were published showing promising results—not only in staving off epileptic seizures, but also improving alertness, behavior, mood, and sleep.1
And now, mainstream medicine is finally beginning to understand the power of this type of diet. It’s about time!
Could this current fascination with the keto diet be the big health breakthrough we’ve all been waiting for?
Is mainstream medical science actually acknowledging that our diets have the potential to prevent and reverse illness?
I’ve got to admit, I’m pretty excited that people are starting to discover the value in this style of eating…
Especially since the latest research shows how it can impact chronic health conditions that stem from inflammation… Including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
So if you’re looking for a highly-effective way to get your health on track, this could be a real game changer for you. I’ll tell you how to get started with this diet in just a moment.
But first, let’s look at what a ketogenic diet is and why it works.
How ketosis works and why I’m a fan
Ketogenic dieting is based on the process of ketosis. This all revolves around getting your body to produce “ketones”—small fuel molecules in the body. These molecules are produced by your liver when your body achieves a state of ketosis.
Simply put, ketosis is the metabolic state in which your body starts breaking down fat, instead of sugar (and sugar from carbohydrates), for energy. Your body then uses the byproducts from this process—your ketones—as an alternative source of fuel, since sugar is in short supply.
The goal is to mimic the body’s state during fasting, without impairing its ability for growth. As I’ve mentioned many times before, studies show that fasting and calorie restriction not only create lasting weight loss, but also help lower risk of disease.
I personally use keto-style diets and have been eating this way for the past 26 years. I’ve never felt better about how I look—and more importantly, how I feel. In fact, I believe in the disease-fighting potential of this diet so much that I’ve developed my own version: the A-List Diet.
This diet unleashes the fat-burning powers of amino acids (that’s what the “A” in “A-List” stands for) to supercharge weight loss. And it combines ketogenic principles like protein boosting, protein rotation, inflammation reduction, and acid-balancing alkalization techniques into a one-two punch against chronic disease.
I know that may sound a bit complicated, but the diet itself is actually quite easy to follow. And I lay it all out for you in my book, The A-List Diet. You can get your own copy via my website, www.AListDietBook.com, search Amazon.com, or visit your local major book retailer.
And if you’d like to get started today with some basic pointers, see the sidebar on page 3 for a ketogenic-based grocery shopping list.
Fight these five chronic conditions from your plate
As I mentioned earlier, recent research shows the ketogenic diet can help prevent, treat, and even reverse some very common—and serious—illnesses.
Epilepsy. As I mentioned earlier, the keto diet was originally used to treat epileptic seizures.2 But once anti-seizure drugs hit the market in the late 1930s, the diet fell out of favor.1 It wasn’t until 2008 that a clinical trial showed children who were resistant to the drugs stopped having seizures after they started following a keto diet.3
Last year, a research review also found that the keto diet reduced seizures in epileptic children and adolescents by as much as 85 percent.4
Of course, mainstream researchers have struggled to explain this, with some even trying to create a “ketogenic diet in a pill…”
One theory is that epilepsy is caused by abnormal metabolism. So it makes sense to me that a diet that helps the metabolism function optimally could also be beneficial in the treatment of this condition.
Obesity. The scientific results in this area have been particularly promising. They show, among other things, that a keto diet leads to greater weight loss than low-fat diets—while also suppressing appetite.
This was the biggest mind-opener, making me a true convert to this type of diet. The keto diet allows people to lose weight quickly, safely, and effectively. It can literally change the course of your life and let you take control of your health… While eating mindfully and nutritiously in the process.
But to get to this point, we had to come out of the dark ages of low-fat, high-carb dogma that infiltrated mainstream diet culture in the 1980s. The historical shift away from keto diets to high-carbohydrate foods and their high glycemic burden has attributed to our current obesity epidemic. But once again, we can slow, stop, or even reverse that epidemic by shifting back to ketogenic eating principles.
Diabetes. Because of the keto diet’s effectiveness against obesity, it’s become a focal point for type 2 diabetes research.
For instance, carbohydrate intolerance is a huge problem for type 2 diabetics. Carbs immediately break down into glucose faster than most other foods, converting to high levels of blood sugar. This causes insulin levels to skyrocket in someone with type 2 diabetes.
So, it makes perfect sense that reducing or eliminating carbohydrates in your diet might help reverse the underlying metabolic problems associated with this disease.
As you know, I’ve been screaming this from every rooftop for the better part of the last two and a half decades. So I’m glad to see mainstream medicine lifting its head out of the proverbial sand on this issue.
Let’s face it, the evidence is almost impossible to ignore at this point. For over 20 years, study after study has found that people who follow the keto diet lose weight and have improved glycemic control. This can help prevent diabetes, and reduce reliance on diabetes drugs for people who already have the disease.
Of course, you may be wondering why this information has been around for over two decades but has only recently attracted mainstream attention. Basically, big-name governmental health administrators have been keeping effective, food-based treatment modalities away from you. Mainstream medicine wants you to get—and stay—sick. Ongoing treatments and prescription medications from chronic conditions help keep their pockets full…
And to add insult to injury, they vilify practitioners like me who advocate that nutrition and diet should be a part of mainstream medical advice! It’s a sad state of affairs.
So, by all means, consider following a keto diet to prevent diabetes. And if you already have type 2 diabetes, be sure to consult your doctor first. Carbohydrate restriction could put you at risk for hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Be sure to discuss any proposed diet changes so they can modify your dosage of insulin or medications if need be.
Cancer. There are many different types of cancer, but the one thing they have in common is the “Warburg effect.” Basically, this effect shows how cancer cells use glucose as their main source of energy.
There’s a theory that cutting off a cancerous tumor’s energy supply will keep it from growing and spreading. And some research shows that starving cancer cells of their preferred energy source triggers your body’s own immune responses to fight off the disease.
There have been numerous studies on the keto diet’s effect on cancer. But due to the nature of this disease, results have been inconsistent. Still, it makes sense that a keto diet, which dramatically reduces your intake of sugar and glucose, might help your body fend off cancer safely and naturally.
Plus, let’s not forget that at least 11 types of cancer—including esophageal, pancreatic, colon, kidney, and thyroid—are also associated with obesity and diabetes. And I’ve already told you about the keto diet’s ability to reverse those particular culprits.
Neurologic disorders. The keto diet’s effectiveness against epilepsy has encouraged researchers to study its effect on other neurologic disorders. The rationale is that the keto diet may actually help protect and enhance the function of your neurons.
For example, one recent study found that people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease had improved cognitive testing scores after three months of following a keto diet. And study participants with Parkinson’s disease had improved functioning as well.5
Additional research has shown the keto diet to be effective in helping prevent and treat migraines—which are thought to be caused in part by an energy-deficiency disorder that responds favorably to ketones.
All in all, I know the discussion around keto seemed to dissipate for over a half-century, but I’m so glad it’s back in the spotlight, and confident it’s here to stay.
Although there’s still a ways left to go in examining the other ways the ketogenic diet can help prevent, treat, and reverse chronic disease and other health issues (despite its enduring history), I have no doubt in its ability to change your life for the better.
Whether you want to lose weight, get healthy, or manage a health condition, it’s simple enough to incorporate the keto diet into your everyday life—and most importantly, maintain it. In my opinion, when considering the amount of potential benefits you could gain, it’s at least worth a try.
I know it works, my patients tell me it works, and so does the science—and at the end of the day, that’s assurance enough for me.
Basically, ketogenic diets are high-fat, low-carb, and low-sugar. The classic keto diet consists of:
80 to 90 percent fat
8 to 15 percent protein
2 to 5 percent carbohydrates
Of course, that leaves plenty of room for delicious, healthful options.
Your quick-start guide to eating keto
- Chicken (organic, pasture-raised)
- Eggs (organic, cage-free)
- Game meat (bison, duck, elk, pheasant, quail, rabbit, venison)
- Grass-fed and finished beef
- Lamb (organic, pasture-raised)
- Nut butter (made with unsweetened nuts, particularly macadamia nuts, almonds, and other fattier nuts)
- Organ meats (organic, pasture-raised)
- Pork (organic, pasture-raised)
- Seafood (wild-caught or fresh and local shrimp, scallops, shellfish, lobster, crab, etc.)
- Wild-caught fish
- Full-fat dairy (butter, cheese, sour cream, heavy whipping cream)
- Macadamia nut oil (my favorite type is extra virgin and cold pressed from NuLogic Foods)
- Nuts (raw and unsalted macadamia, Brazil, hazelnuts, pecans, or almonds)
- Green beans
- Green bell pepper
- Leafy greens (spinach, kale, kohlrabi, etc.)
Preferably all produce should be local
A ketogenic diet also has a long list of carb-rich foods that should be limited or avoided, including:
- Grains and products made from grains (rice, pasta, bread, cereal, etc.)
- High-carb fruits (pineapple, bananas, pears, watermelon, apples, pomegranates, mangos, and dried fruits like raisins)
- Legumes and beans
- Starchy vegetables (peas, corn, potatoes, yams)
- Vegetable oils
2“The effect of ketonemia on the course of epilepsy.” Mayo Clin Proc. 1921;2:307-308.
3”The ketogenic diet for the treatment of childhood epilepsy: a randomised controlled trial.” Lancet Neurol. 2008; 7(6):500-6 (ISSN: 1474-4422).
4“Ketogenic diet and other dietary treatments for epilepsy.” Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Mar 14;(3):CD001903.
5“Ketogenic diets, mitochondria, and neurological diseases.” J Lipid Res. 2014; 55(11):2211-28.
6“Keto-adaptation enhances exercise performance and body composition responses to training in endurance athletes.” Metabolism. 2018 Apr;81:25-34.