5 Compelling Reasons to Stick With a Ketogenic Diet

From preventing cavities to fighting cancer, a ketogenic diet does a lot more than just help you lose fat.

By Andrew DeWitt | November 17, 2016

Chances are if you’re like me, you can come up with a million reasons not to do something healthy. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could come up with a million reasons to change your life for the better? Well, it won't be a million. It’ll be five, and it’ll be about the ketogenic diet.

The ketogenic diet is helping people all over the world lose weight, get healthy and feel better. However, like with any lifestyle change, you’re going to experience some resistance. If you’re only armed with one reason to do something, you could get overwhelmed by the horde of self-sabotage that lurks in the corners of our brains. That’s why, for me, it’s important to come up with a smorgasbord of good reasons to keep doing something healthy.

If the only positive I was getting from the ketogenic diet was simply weight loss, I think I could talk myself out of it just to indulge in the fleeting pleasures of an afternoon muffin. But armed with multiple, interesting and cool benefits of the ketogenic diet, I can keep those harlot muffins where they belong: in apocalypse-proof plastic wrapping, next to the rack of children’s sunglasses near my drugstore checkout line.


Smile, Baby!

The ketogenic diet is low-carb and very, very low in sugar. Sugar and refined carbs are the main culprits behind tooth decay, causing certain bacteria in your mouth to overfeed and release excess acid, which causes cavities. The absence of sugar and carbs keeps these bacteria from going bananas, and as a result, you have a much slimmer chance of developing cavities and gum disease.

You might think that not getting cavities is not really that great of a reason, but have you paid for a cavity as an adult? It costs more than taking an entire family to Disneyland. I’d personally prefer to go on Space Mountain than flip through a copy of Highlights from 1992 while I wait for someone to stick a drill in my face. Dentists agree that there are numerous oral health benefits from the ketogenic diet. The only negative listed is “keto breath” and, baby, keto breath just lets me know I’m in the zone.


Diabetes

The ketogenic diet puts you into a metabolic state in which you burn fat for energy, and this is why it’s so effective for people who want to lose weight. But going keto also controls your weight by improving your insulin response. A side benefit of this is weight loss (of course), but it also provides better control over hunger and cravings. Oh, and it improves your insulin resistance. I was pre-diabetic before my ketogenic diet, and thanks to said diet, I am no longer pre-diabetic.

This is a big deal because there are a lot of health consequences to having Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 and 2 diabetics have reported success in better controlling their blood sugar and insulin with the ketogenic diet. Always check with your doctor before changing a diet, particularly if you have diabetes.


Brain Drain

As a sleep-deprived parent, every day is like an ultrahigh resolution, 3-D dementia simulator, so I’m aware of how important brain function is. Good news, the keto diet is also good for your brain.

New research is linking poor insulin response and disorders to brain-function problems ranging from memory lapse to full-on Alzheimer’s disease. The ketogenic diet may be crucial in combating these diseases and preventing them in the first place. So keep eating that grass-fed butter and watching those carbs — you’ll be well on your way to holding in an embarrassing “brain fart.”


Butter vs. Depression

How can you be sad eating bacon? It doesn’t get much better than a plate full of bacon and eggs. New research suggests that eating a low-carb ketogenic diet has a positive effect on mood. I can personally attest that after struggling with depression for the better part of my life, I feel genuinely happier on this diet.

Dr. Rif S. El-Mallakh, a psychiatrist at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, believes that part of the reason for this is because blood-sugar crashes and low energy mimics the symptoms of depression. People on ketogenic diets no longer experience these crashes to the same degree. There is also interesting research being done on the link between serotonin and carbohydrate consumption and that a reduction in carbohydrates can positively impact serotonin levels in a way that can treat depression.


Keto and Cancer

Perhaps the biggest benefit of the ketogenic diet is in the battle with cancer. While it’s too early to tell, there is promising research that suggests a link between sugar consumption and accelerated cancer cell growth. Pair that with the effects of “starving” cancer cells by denying them their favorite food source (glucose) and the effects are looking more and more promising. All this research is in its infancy, but there is some amazing work being done by people like Dr. Thomas N. Seyfried, Dr. Roberto E. Flores, Dr. Angela M. Poff and Dr. Dominic D’Agostino who link cancer cell growth to metabolic disorders.

The idea of fighting cancer with coconut oil and chicken wings fried in lard is simply too awesome to not get excited about. It brings to mind that old adage from Hippocrates, “Let bacon be thy medicine and medicine be thy bacon.” Well, you know how it really goes.



About the Author

Andrew DeWitt

Andrew DeWitt is a stand-up comic, writer, illustrator and dad living in Los Angeles. DeWitt won the truTV Development Award at the New York Television Festival for his comedy docuseries Mike and Andrew Try to Lose Some Weight. He’s written for eHow, Bro Science Life, GeeksterInk and SkyDoesGaming. He also hosts The Andrew DeWitt Show podcast, is a former voice actor for Action Figure Therapy and has appeared multiple times on Jimmy Kimmel Live as a sketch actor.