It all originates from fasting. Fasting in ancient times
Since the times of Hippocrates (460 BC–370 BC), fasting has been recognized as a treatment for epilepsy.
Fasting was also documented in biblical times: Mark (9:29) relates the story of Jesus curing an epileptic boy.
Picture: The Transfiguration, by Raphael (Pinacoteca of the Vatican Museums)
When his apostles asked him why they had not been able to cure the boy, Jesus said, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting”.
In many religions, fasting is a part of life. Muslims fast from dawn until dusk during the month of Ramadan; and Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and Hindus fast on designated days of the week or calendar year.
In India, for example, there are a few days when wives fast for a goal to prolong their husbands’ life! How romantic:)
From ancient times, fasting was used as a treatment of various diseases and also as prophylactic measure to stay healthy. As you see, what we know now as a natural method to cure epilepsy, in ancient times was fasting and nothing else.
Fasting. Mechanism of action
Fasting is much more complicated process than a simple release of keto bodies to produce energy.
Ketogenesis, lipolysis, autophagy
Fasting results in ketogenesis. Ketogenesis is a process through which organism produces ketone bodies (breaking down fatty acids and ketogenic amino acids which are stored in a body as fat). This process supplies energy to brain, heart and skeletal muscle while fasting or strict caloric restriction.
Ketogenesis, and therefore, fasting, makes an organism stress-resistant, also promotes lipolysis (fat burn), and autophagy (autophagy is a process of “self-eating” by cells to remove unnecessary or dysfunctional components like old or damaged cells).
Insulin, leptin and ghrelin levels while fasting
Fasting lowers insulin and leptin levels. Leptin is a hormone inhibiting hunger; elevated leptin levels typically reflect inflammation. Fasting elevates ghrelin level. Ghrelin is a so-called “hunger hormone” because it increases food intake level; ghrelin can suppress inflammation and increase insulin sensitivity. As a result, inflammation is suppressed during fasting and autophagy.
During fasting body reorganizes its hormones to fix itself; regulates glucose levels, reduces inflammation, and eliminates old and defected cells.
Ketogenesis is a process occurring while fasting. During ketogenesis fat cells are decomposed to keto particles (keto bodies) to ensure energy flow for vital organs and tissues such as brain, heart and muscles.
Why keto diet?
Dr. R.M. Wilder, a physician at the Mayo Clinic, U.S., proposed that the benefits of fasting could be obtained if ketonemia was produced by other means and coined the term “ketogenic diet”, which referred to diets rich in fat and low in carbohydrate.
He proposed that the keto diet should be tried in a series of patients with epilepsy and suggested that it should be as effective as fasting and could be maintained for a much longer period of time.
Ketogenic diet where extra amounts of fats should be consumed with food was suggested by one doctor. According to the doctor, it could be an easier way to cure, similarly to fasting.
He supposed and proposed. But what if the laws of Nature do not agree with his statements?
So, where is the problem with keto?
Initially, “keto” is something happening inside a body during fasting.
Ketogenesis (a process which involves fats to break down till keto particles) is only one of the multiple process which happen during fasting to cure a body from inside.
Putting additional fats into a body through fat foods brings a totally different scenario:
While consuming elevated amounts of fat, the body DOES NOT BREAK DOWN inner fats and the process of autophagy (elimination of old and defective cells) could be forgotten once and forever.
Many people claim they feel much better after starting keto diet and here is why:
The true reason is unclear for all – people on keto diet just feel a great release from sugars they ate in enormous amounts before! Because yes, on keto diet one should monitor his/her carbohydrates keeping them close to zero.
Nourishing a body with extra amounts of fats
While “nourishing” a body with extra fats – the work of entire digestion system is overloaded in two ways: constipation and pancreas overwork.
High-fat foods may slow digestion and contribute to constipation (clogging the entire system).
More so, to digest high-fat foods, pancreas should release elevated amounts of lipase (enzyme which breaks down fats).
The process itself contributes to overwork of stomach, intestines and pancreas.
The recent scientific article by Dr. Mohammed Abrahim (October 2020) tells us that ketogenic diet should not be stated as an accurate method to treat type 2 diabetes.
The question arises: “What if the mechanism of body’s self-cure is much more complex than one could think?”
Ketogenic diet does not help 100% for people with type 2 diabetes (or prediabetic people) because instead of making the work of pancreas easier, people on keto diet overload pancreas with additional work!
Consequences of prolonged fat (keto) diet
Prolonged keto diet may lead to inflammation of pancreas or other pancreas diseases, I guess, even in relatively healthy individuals (or those who think they are healthy). Remember, not all side effects appear just in one day. The body constantly tries to fix our mistakes, but the limit for ignorance always exists.
Extra amounts of high-fat food do not withstand the process of ketogenesis during fasting. Ketogenesis is only one puzzle from all the game when talking about body’s self-repair during fasting.
Extra amounts of high-fat foods overload pancreas and may contribute to pancreas diseases.
Paradox of XXI century
Paradox of XXI century lies in an evidence that a normal civilized human being chooses his/her food according to the internet search.
When we want to eat healthy, we ask internet: “What food is a healthy food?” The human being by him/herself has lost the ability to eat normally and therefore lost him/herself in an ocean of virtual “do’s” and “don’t’s”…
Better to fast (wisely, of course, consult a doctor).
But if on keto diet – only for a short period which depends on a health state of an individual. For a healthy athletes it could be recommended to go keto for two month but no longer, for others – two weeks would be a maximum duration.
- Abrahim M. Pseudo-Reversal of Noninsulin-Treated Type 2 Diabetes on the Ketogenic Diet. Can J Diabetes. 2020 Oct 1.
- Sampaio, Letícia Pereira de Brito. Dieta cetogênica para o tratamento da epilepsia. Arq Neuropsiquiatr. 2016;74(10):842-8.
- Longo VD, Mattson MP. Fasting: molecular mechanisms and clinical applications. Cell metabolism. 2014;19(2):181-92.
- The Transfiguration, by Raphael (Pinacoteca of the Vatican Museums), online source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transfiguration_(Raphael)#/media/File:Transfigurazione_(Raffaello)_September_2015-1a.jpg
The conclusions drawn and the assessment of the health benefits/risks are restricted to information appearing in the scientific literature