Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health

Leave a comment

Is the Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss Safe?


What is the Ketogenic Diet?

Sally Feltner, PhD, RDN

Glucose is the preferred fuel for the body to use for energy. However, when carbohydrates are limited there may not be adequate glucose for energy use. The body can make some glucose from protein but it can also supply an energy source from fatty acids called ketones.

Ketones ( ketosis) are molecules formed in the liver from fatty acids and released in the blood when there is not sufficient carbohydrate. Ketosis can be generated in a ketogenic diet by fasting or by strictly restricting carbohydrate intake to less than 20-40 grams a day. Fat intake is increased to about 70-80 percent of total calories. Protein intake makes up the rest of the calories.

Ketone production is a normal response to starvation or to a diet very low in carbohydrate. Ketones can be used for energy by the heart, muscle, and kidney. After about three days of fasting, even the brain adapts and can obtain about half its energy from ketones. Ketones not used are excreted in urine. However, if produced in excess, they can build up in the blood. If severe in untreated diabetes, it can increase the blood’s acidity so much that normal body processes cannot proceed, eventually causing possible coma or even death.

The ketogenic diet was originally developed to treat children with epilepsy with some success. Lately, it has become a new diet trend in weight loss. When ketones are used for energy, the body can burn fat stores more efficiently often resulting in rapid body fat loss. Ketosis also lessens hunger helping to avoid excessive calorie intake.

In general, registered dietitians, but not all, do not recommend the ketogenic diet for weight loss due to some serious concerns about its safety. This is due to the lack of research especially on long-term effects. It may in some people cause adverse kidney function and bone metabolism leading to a reduction in bone mineral content. Since it is a carbohydrate restrictive diet, there may be other nutritional deficiencies that occur from a lack of fruits, vegetables, or fiber-rich foods. It is also generally a high fat diet causing some to question the safety of consuming high saturated fats and increasing heart disease risks.

There are other cautions. It is estimated that about 7 million people don’t know they have diabetes type 2. With a high number of people in the population that may have undiagnosed diabetes, the serious dangers of high levels of ketones in the blood can have serious consequences as previously discussed above.

Food choices should be monitored by a registered dietitian/nutritionist (RDN) in order to keep the carbohydrate content low and help the dieter choose healthy fats. Electrolytes such as sodium and magnesium should be assessed periodically. Lab values for total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides, blood glucose and blood pressure should be monitored.

My opinion? Long-term use of the ketogenic diet is not recommended until more research tells us more about its safety. Perhaps it may help people  to lose weight on a short-term basis; however, please consult your physician before trying any version of a ketogenic diet.

For more click HERE.


Leave a comment

Detox Facts

Detox, detox – is it a new fad?  Not exactly.  Its origins began in the 19th century with the theory of auto-intoxication, a term coined by Charles Bouchard, a French physician. Other physicians further defined the theory by describing the phenomenon as caused by the putrefaction or decay of proteins in the intestine generating offending toxins. This theory dominated a major part of the 19th century and has survived to this day.During that time, people were told that constipation was at the root of most diseases and the term, auto-intoxication, became the mantra of the medical community. In 1852, a publication called The People’s Medical Lighthouse, a series of popular scientific essays on nature, uses and diseases of the lung, heart, liver, stomach, kidney, womb and blood had this to say about this common digestive problem: “daily evacuation of the bowels is of utmost importance to the maintenance of health”; without the daily movement, the entire system will become deranged and corrupted.” People’s Medicine Lighthouse, Lecture 71. Harmon Knox Root, A.M, M.D. 1852. This theory led to colon cleansing (which still is performed  today), which can be dangerous and is not recommended.  However, detox is now more commonly associated with juicing and cleanses primarily for the gastrointestinal system. 

Do we need juice fasts and cleanses?  No – our liver, kidneys, digestive and respiratory systems work together to detoxify the body.  Most juicing plans or other cleansing concoctions do not provide the calorie or nutrient requirements we need daily. Protein is a especially a problem.  Proteins provide the necessary amino acids we need for protein synthesis.  If these are not available for days the synthesis of needed proteins will be affected adversely.


Leave a comment

Another Certification: Glyphosate?


Concerned about the herbicide glyphosate? Soon you may see yet another label or residue -free seal on supermarket foods. Will there be room on food labels to list everything that is not in the product?

Glyphosate (N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine) is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide and crop desiccant. It is an organophosphorus compound, specifically a phosphonate. It is used to kill weeds, especially annual broadleaf weeds and grasses that compete with crops.

See my previous post HERE.

Source: Wikipedia


Leave a comment

The Supplement Con?

The old snake oil salesmen are alive and well and now dwell in the diet supplement industry. There is just so little evidence that most of them offer any benefits with some exceptions when diet supplementation is necessary for medical reasons. Regulation appears to be almost impossible unless consumers demand it; however, that is also unlikely. Many people do not favor giving up their often useless supplements even when they know the facts. It shows the power of the placebo on which most of them (the supplements) operate.

See a previous post from 2012 HERE.


Leave a comment

The Paleo Diet: Fad or Trend?

To define the Paleolithic diet is impossible. Our early ancestors lived in different environments and their diets had to be food that was available in those varied environments.  However, it is considered by Paleo enthusiasts to be protein-rich, with emphasis on grass-fed beef and fish rich in omega-3 fats. Carbohydrates should come from nonstarchy fresh fruits and vegetables. Since it is assumed  that our predecessors did not have access to cereal grains, legumes, dairy,  potatoes, or processed foods – they are not considered to be Paleo. The avoidance of processed food does contribute to this diet’s good points; however, however, it may be a bit restrictive (not so good).

The Paleo Diet is either a fad or a trend.  Here is a very comprehensive article on all the aspects of the diet – its pros and its cons.  No one diet is appropriate for all – the best diet is one  that you feel comfortable with and can make it a part of your lifestyle.


Leave a comment

“Real” “Clean” Foods: What do they mean?

Food Marketing

A recent trend in the food business is the use of the unidentified and non-nondescript meanings of “real food” and “clean food.”  The terms appear to be favorites of “foodies” (whatever that means) and perhaps Millennials. The following article from Restaurant News attempts to define what they may mean to the average consumer and how the industry is responding.  Click HERE.