Ketogenic Diet Reverse Heart Disease – According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease (also called heart disease) is the leading cause of death worldwide.
On the surface, this may seem like a terrible tribute to humanity, but there is a sweetness in this bitter news when we realize that heart disease is preventable and, in some cases, reversible.
Ketogenic Diet Reverse Heart Disease
Heart disease is a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels. In general, they fall into the following categories:
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The most common, preventable and reversible type of heart disease is coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease. It occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle harden and narrow as plaque builds up on the inner walls. The technical term for this is atherosclerosis.
As atherosclerosis worsens, less blood flows through the arteries. As a result, the heart muscle cannot get the blood or oxygen it needs. This can cause chest pain (angina) or a heart attack.
Most heart attacks occur when a blood clot suddenly cuts off the heart’s blood supply, causing permanent heart damage. These clots usually form at the site of a ruptured arterial plaque.
Over time, atherosclerosis can weaken the heart muscle and cause heart failure and changes in the normal heart rate.
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Simply put, coronary heart disease is an insidious process that impairs cardiovascular function and sets the stage for traumatic events such as heart attacks and strokes. However, when we look at the condition like this, it seems that there is not much you can do to prevent or reverse it.
In fact, it’s the opposite. Diet and lifestyle play a crucial role in preventing further plaque build-up, as well as helping to reduce atherosclerosis.
Although there are many genetic factors that determine the risk of heart disease, it is still preventable and reversible. This is because the most common cause of heart disease – atherosclerosis – is caused by modifiable factors (ie elements under our control).
However, don’t be fooled by the fact that atherosclerosis is a buildup of fatty plaque in your arteries. This does not mean that fat narrows the arteries. In fact, fat is not the problem.
Benefits Of The Ketogenic Diet
Interestingly, atherosclerosis isn’t the problem either—it’s the solution to the immediate problem caused by oxidized LDL cholesterol.
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is commonly called “bad cholesterol,” but it’s actually important for our survival.
You can think of LDL as a superhero with a very short temper. LDL carries essential nutrients into our cells, such as cholesterol and vitamins. Unfortunately, when LDL interacts with free radicals and unstable molecules in the blood, it begins to oxidize.
Now oxidized LDL causes damage to endothelial cells (the cells that line the inside of our blood vessels). Endothelial damage prompts macrophages (cells of the immune system) to neutralize oxidized LDL and prevent further destruction.
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The macrophage convinces the oxidized LDL to shed its superhero costume and avoid the toxic, inert fatty plaque that lies between the walls of blood vessels.
Our body creates this plaque to prevent oxidized LDL from further damaging cells, so it is part of the (short-term) solution to atherosclerosis. The direct result is that oxidized LDL can no longer damage healthy cells.
However, in the long run, this short-sighted solution quickly becomes dangerous, increasing the risk of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes if we don’t make the right changes in diet and lifestyle.
The involvement of LDL in this plaque building process is the main reason for the demonized particle. However, so many factors contribute to the increased likelihood of heart disease that lowering LDL levels is not enough. Evidence for this is that the disease often develops in the presence of lower LDL levels.
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Focusing only on LDL to assess heart disease risk is like blaming the water when the sink drain is clogged. You can prevent the sink from backing up by reducing the flow of water down the drain, but that doesn’t address the other problems that cause the “blockage.”
To better assess the risk of cardiovascular disease, we must consider the following main risk factors that cause atherosclerosis:
Of these eleven risk factors, research shows that we have the most control over those that have the greatest impact on heart disease. An observational study in 52 countries, for example, found eight modifiable risk factors, namely abnormal blood lipids, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, abdominal obesity, psychosocial factors, fruit, vegetable and alcohol consumption, and regular physical activity. – It accounted for most of the risk of heart attack worldwide in both sexes and in all continents and all ages.
The finding is important because it shows that one of the life-threatening complications of atherosclerosis, heart attack, is associated with the same modifiable risk factors worldwide.
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Additionally, six of the eight risk factors identified in the study (eg, abnormal blood lipids, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, abdominal obesity, certain psychosocial factors, and consumption of fruits, vegetables, and alcohol) are treatable. . the right diet The keto diet, for example, has been found to improve all six. You can refer to the chart below for an abbreviated version:
Because of its focus on fat consumption, the keto diet is a concern for many doctors, nutritionists, and health advocates. However, what happens when we eat more fat and cut carbs is much more complex.
Simply put, some studies show that the keto diet can help lower the risk of heart disease in most people, while small subsets of the population can significantly increase their risk by following a standard keto diet.
To help you decipher between the two and understand what keto can do for heart disease, let’s look at how keto affects six risk factors that can be addressed with diet.
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The most studied lipids are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides. There are other lipid particles that could give us a more complete picture, but data on them is very sparse at the moment.
Of all the risk factors for heart disease, the effects of keto on cholesterol levels attract the most controversy.
Many doctors, nutritionists and diet researchers will immediately dismiss any diet that advocates consuming more fat. For them, the potential for harm is obvious.
More fat means more saturated fat, which usually leads to higher LDL cholesterol levels and an increased risk of heart disease. Because the keto diet is one of the most popular high-fat diets, the link between keto and heart disease is one of the most publicized risks of the diet.
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On the other end of the spectrum, low-carb doctors, nutritionists, and researchers say that keto-induced increases in cholesterol represent optimization of cholesterol levels. The low-carb and keto diet is based on research:
Overall, there is strong evidence that the carb reduction involved in the ketogenic diet can be heart-healthy.
However, that doesn’t mean the “keto is bad for the heart” side of the argument is completely wrong. A small portion of the population may not do well, from a heart health perspective, when eating a low-fat, low-carbohydrate diet.
More specifically, a low-fat, low-carb diet may not be a healthy choice for people with one or more of the following conditions:
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The easiest and most accessible way to find out if the keto diet might be right for you is if your total to HDL cholesterol ratio is above 4 and/or your LDL-P (not LDL-C) remains high or increases. after starting the keto diet. If this is your case, it may be that your particular situation requires you to adapt your keto diet (ie, as we would know if you follow a Mediterranean keto diet) or that you need to follow a different dietary approach.
For a closer look at the keto diet and cholesterol research and what it means for you, check out our article on keto and cholesterol.
Unlike cholesterol, there is much less debate about how diet affects triglyceride levels. In fact, meta-analyses show a strong relationship between carbohydrate intake and blood triglycerides: for every 5% reduction in total fat intake, triglyceride levels are predicted to increase by 6%.
Furthermore, the researchers also found that when replacing 1% of isoenergetic carbohydrates (same caloric content) with each category of fatty acids (saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), a decrease in triglyceride levels was predicted. The most significant decrease is with unsaturated fats (which are the main part of the Mediterranean diet).
Diabetes And The Ketogenic Diet
It didn’t even matter if the carbohydrate was table sugar or whole food. Replacing carbohydrates with the same caloric content as fat led to a decrease in triglyceride levels. What’s more, these results may be even better for people with type 2 diabetes, a condition that can also be improved by reducing carbohydrate intake.
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