The keto (short for Ketogenic) diet has recently been proven to save our eyesight as research from the Northeast Ohio Medical University, USA, had conducted a research experiment on mice to prove that it can help maintain vision in patients suffering from glaucoma.
What is the Keto diet?
The Keto diet, commonly known as the low-carb diet has been around for years and embraced by many, including celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna and Kim Kardashian.
When you eat something high in carbohydrates, your body produces glucose and insulin. Glucose is the easiest molecule for your body to convert and use as energy. As a result, glucose will be chosen over any other energy source in your body. Insulin enables the body to process it ready to be used as energy.
By lowering your intake of carbohydrates to around 30g, which is the recommended amount in the keto diet, the body has less glucose and cannot rely on it as an energy source. Instead, the body adapts and uses energy elsewhere; this time from burning body fat. The energy that is produced from this is called ketones and the adaption of your bodily state is known as ketosis. As a result of burning body fat, weight loss will occur.
New research has proven that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the health benefits of the keto diet.
Led by Denise Inman at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, an experiment was conducted to monitor the diets of mice that were destined to develop the eye condition glaucoma. The researchers wanted to look into the impact a lower intake of carbohydrates had on the cells of the retina and their connections to the brain from degeneration.
Published in the journal JNeurosci, the results revealed that feeding these mice a ketogenic diet that consisted of nearly 90% fat over two months protected their retinal cells and connections to the brain from degeneration. Whilst further research needs to be conducted, the results suggest that this diet would have the same impact on human patients suffering from glaucoma.
With just under 500,000 people in the UK suffering from primary open-angle glaucoma (the most common type of this condition), and one of the world’s leading causes of blindness, this new research is a major breakthrough for the eye health industry.
What are the other health benefits of the Keto diet?
The health benefits of the keto diet don’t stop with weight loss and reducing glaucoma, also improving the following:
- Control blood sugar - your blood sugar levels can be reduced naturally and effectively as a result of the foods you are eating on the keto diet. This can be a great way to manage and prevent diabetes compared to low-calorie diets and is strongly recommended for those with Type 2 diabetes, who have chronic high blood sugar levels caused by their diet and lifestyle
- Increased energy and normalised hunger - the energy you receive from glucose in carbohydrates is not reliable or consistent, meaning you will have peaks and dips. By changing the energy your body uses to a more reliable and better energy source, you should feel more energised during the day
- Mental focus - for some people, the keto diet isn’t to lose weight but to improve their concentration and mental performance. Ketones are a great source of energy for the brain and so by reducing your intake of carbohydrates you are avoiding big spikes in blood sugar levels and enabling your body to burn fat in an alternative way
- Epilepsy - the keto diet was initially used back in the early 1900s to treat epilepsy, and remains one of the most widely used therapies for children who cannot control this condition today who do not react well to medication to prevent seizures
Across the last century, new health benefits from this diet have emerged. Who knows what more advantages the keto diet will have in the next 100 years?