The Holistic Approach to Keto and Gut Health
By Kristin Grayce
THERE HAVE BEEN waves of fad diets surging through social media; some stick around, others disappear as quickly as they arrived. In the last 22 years of practice as a holistic healthcare provider, I've learned that food is medicine and that you only gain the benefits of your nutrition if you can break it down and absorb it properly. When I analyze a blood chemistry lab, I often find people are not digesting and absorbing their nutrients well. Most doctors and naturopaths are unaware of which lab markers to order and the lab patterns associated with digestive dysfunction. Still, these are essential clues that direct appropriate and individualized treatment plans.
Almost everyone has some degree of gut damage, which impacts immune function, nutrient absorption, cognitive function, hormone production, energy levels, inflammation, healthy skin, hair, and nails, and vitality, to name a few. Gut damage arises from multiple factors, such as consuming non-organic foods with pesticide and herbicide residues like glyphosates (from Round-Up). Or exposure to heavy metals in the air, water, food, and dental material; processed and packaged foods that are full of chemical preservatives; environmental factors such as herbicides used on public park and playground lawns; acidic foods and drinks like coffee; the use of certain pharmaceutical medications, eating on the go, and stress to name a few top contributors.
Dairy and gluten are two common examples of foods that cause inflammation, even if you don't have a known sensitivity. In my first book, Holistic Keto for Gut Health — A program for Resetting Your Metabolism, I explore the science behind gut damage. I also explain how to repair it and the enteric nervous system properly. I look at the foods that both cause and prevent illness, new perspectives around the mind, body, spirit health and healing, and how a functional, holistic keto gut repair program can help halt, prevent, and heal autoimmune challenges.
THE BODY MORE EFFICIENT ON FATS FOR FUEL
Scientists now agree that the human body, your brain, and every major organ runs more efficiently on ketones (fats) for fuel rather than glucose (sugar, aka carbohydrates). More specifically, the brain functions 25 percent more efficiently on ketones than it does on carbs. Ketones can provide as much as 70 percent of the brain's energy needs.
(1) I remember when I was premed at the University of Arizona and taking a prerequisite for medical school, Biology. I learned the brain requires carbohydrates to function, but I have since discovered that this is not wholly true. What is true is that several structures in the brain do prefer glucose, and this comes from a process called gluconeogenesis. The body is "making new glucose," which is done by the liver through the use of amino acids (protein building blocks). The liver is also good at making glucose from glycerol through a process that links fatty acids together in triglycerides (body's storage from fat). Your body prefers ketones to make everything it needs in terms of energy.
The low-fat fad has been scientifically debunked, and healthy fats, like coconut oil, shown to improve cognitive function. Good fats are our friends. Processed hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats cause many health issues including inflammation, the precursor to every disease.
I'm part of several Keto Facebook groups, and I'm shocked at how many people live off of diet soda, coffee, and processed high-fat foods. Many people in that group are using a standard ketogenic-type diet plan to lose weight, and it can work, but they are also causing harm to themselves. How people interpret, the ratios of fat, protein, and carbohydrates are visible in their food choices. Just because you're eating a high-fat diet, that may be called ketogenic, and even force your body into ketosis, does not automatically mean it's healthy for you.
Carbohydrates cause many serious health problems in humans. Diabetes, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, dental decay, obesity, and decreased cognitive functioning are a few of the harmful effects of glucose on the human body. There is solid science elucidating the link between metabolic disturbances (ex. high blood sugar) and mood and psychiatric disorders as well as dementia. Insulin has been found to play a critical role in neuronal growth and neuroplasticity. For example, people with Type 2 diabetes have a 60 percent increased risk for dementia of all kinds.
(2) High blood sugar, trouble with insulin production, and utilization cause a problem for you.
I prefer a more holistic approach to the ketogenic craze. Not all fats are created equally. The foods that make up your calories each day do matter. I've found that the more fresh, organic, and vine-ripened vegetables and leafy greens, the better. Moderate protein and higher healthy fats can be the perfect ratio to stimulate your metabolism, resensitize your cells to insulin, stabilize blood sugar, decrease inflammation, and balance hormones. This approach is the ideal foundation for healing the gut. Avoid standard ketogenic diet foods, like dairy and eggs, processed foods, and synthetic sweeteners, and replace them with healing gut foods such as aloe vera, coconut oil, high fiber vegetables, collagen powder, and cultured vegetables. Add a natural supplement or two like L-glutamine, marshmallow root, specific high potency pre and probiotics, and finally, make lifestyle changes like chewing your food, mindful eating, staying hydrated with fresh spring water, avoiding chemicals, and managing stress. Your gastrointestinal tract can finally begin to repair itself.
GUT DAMAGE RESULTS IN GAS, WEIGHT GAIN OR LOSS
Gut damage may indeed result in noticeable gut issues like gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, pain, and weight gain or loss. But this is only a small piece of how gut imbalances manifest. More often than not, immune dysfunction, which leads to allergies, skin issues, food sensitivities, joint pain, inflammation, and autoimmune challenges, is the result. Here is where the power of prevention, heightened awareness about what is happening inside your body-rather than guessing, and your desire to level-up your health and life do make a difference.
The body is remarkable and can heal when blocks are identified and removed, and it is given what it needs. I outline specific nutritional and lifestyle recommendations, supplements, and contemplative exercises in my first book Holistic Keto for Gut Health, to offer you a comprehensive, holistic approach to healing, of which you deserve. If you find yourself needing a nutritional and lifestyle upgrade, then I'm here to help. I see patients, write regular blogs, and share tasty recipes to help keep you enjoying life to the fullest.