MeMum asked me about the ins and outs of Keto or LCHF, this morning. For her doctor to read. And I am glad to provide any information about it at all.
Not only am I a writer who does research for fun, but I am also a nerd who loves sciencey things.
I admit. I am neither a doctor nor a dietician, but I have listened to enough of them to get the basic gist of how ketogenics works, and retell that in easy-to-digest format so the layperson can understand things.
And it goes a little something like this:
Insulin is a dick. It makes all kinds of dick moves because it only has two jobs and it does them well. Job One: corral and contain excess sugars into fat cells. Job Two: Tell the body to NEVER USE the fats because it's on patrol, damnit. There's SUGAR to contain.
Usually, it does it's jobs and there's little to interfere with that. The problem happens when we have loads of carbohydrates - complex or not. Carbs, regardless of their complexity, metabolise into sugars.
So the bottom of the food pyramid is going to team up with the tippy-top, once our stomachs and intestines have done their things.
Now if you have a fatty, sugary diet... things go bad quick. Insulin is doing its job containing the sugars, and there's all these extra fats running about. So the liver tries to process them into something the body can use, but Insulin tells it not to. Meanwhile, body cells are starving because too much Insulin is storing all the sugars into more and more fat cells, and suddenly you have diabetes with a risk of arteriosclerosis. Not fun.
So what does the Diet Industry tell you to do? Cut the sugary foods, and fats, and increase your carbs with fibre and hopefully poop your way to better health.
But that doesn't happen. Your innards metabolise those carbs into sugars, and Insulin gets to be a bigger dick than usual. It stores those sugars into fat cells, telling the body not to use your stored fat, and starving your body. You get hungrier, you eat more often, and cram your body with -guess what- more carbs.
This is why 90% of diets fail. And of the 10% that do succeed, those who go off them gain all their lost weight and more straight on back again.
It's not Insulin's fault. It's just following orders. 9_9
So what happens if you cut out the carbohydrates instead?
Insulin is suddenly unemployed. The pancreas takes a breather, and the signals Insulin was sending stop. Your body can start metabolising its stored fats. Starting with all that dangerous belly fat that everyone knows is the real indicator of evil.
Your liver turns those stored fats into ketones, which are the alternate [And better] source of fuel for all of your body. Including your brain. They shoot straight into your mitochondria without any intervention from Insulin [which was being a dick, remember?] and fuels your cells like the powerhouse it is.
Now, if you're doing this without eating a good proportion of fats... your liver is going to get overworked. Sure, it metabolises all your body fat just fine, but... without a ready source of fuel that it doesn't have to make, it'll burn out and die on you.
It's kind of like the woodsman with the blunt axe. He needs to sharpen his axe, we all see it, but he can't unless his forge has fuel. And he can't fuel his forge without wood. And he needs a sharp axe to get enough... you get the picture.
If you eat good fats, the body knows what to do. Human bodies have been doing this for literally millions of years. The fats break up easily, especially if they're saturated fats, into good ketones. Which then get yummed up by every cell.
Ah, but what about ketoacidosis, I hear you cry. Well, that's not the same thing. Ketoacidosis is what happens when the liver is desperate for fuel [either because you've got too much sugar causing Insulin to be a dick, or because you're doing low-carb, low-fat, fry-your-own-liver nonsense] and the body starts breaking down muscle tissue for ketones. Meanwhile everywhere is (a) clogged and (b) starving, so the signals to self-cannibalise go haywire and your body ends up poisoning itself with too many ketones.
Beloved likened it to stabbing a person a dozen times, throwing them into a pool, and then claiming that the pink water was really killing them. Ketoacidosis is an indicator of things gone terribly wrong, rather than an actual thing that's gone wrong.
And as for the "good" and "bad" cholesterol...
Science is finding new stuff out about how our body works every day, and this includes Cholesterol. Keep in mind that this information may be subject to change without notice.
So. Our cast of Cholesterol Characters are:
- HDL, long lauded as "good" cholesterol
- LDL-A, a "good" cholesterol that has been in bad company
- LDL-B, the bad company
- Triglycerides, a general pollutant in the bloodstream when things have gone bad
"Wait, 'Nutter," you say. "Weren't MCT's, Medium Chain Triglycerides, good for us? How can these triglycerides be bad?"
Well, for a start, Triglycerides are what our body generates to pack up excess sugar and fats for transportation in the blood. They're little dense balls of fat around whatever it needs to carry. They're not a bother in a healthy body, but when things go wrong [Thanks, Insulin, for being a dick] they can end up clogging the pipes.
MCT, meanwhile, is actually a friendly ketone that our body doesn't need to work at in order to process or use.
Inside our bodies, the blood vessels are like a highway. And, like a highway, constant traffic makes potholes. In a healthy body, HDL is the work crew and LDL-A is the patch. HDL takes LDL-A to the site of the damage and LDL-A patches that noise up. This also works for injuries and the signs of ageing, by the way. Bonus for us Keto peeps!
Now, if the body is unhealthy, with too many sugars flooding the bloodstream and not enough ketones fuelling things properly... the liver can't make LDL-A. It's too busy trying to deal with Insulin's shit(That dick). So, it takes that excess sugar in, and tries to metabolise it into LDL-A, but sugar can't do that, and out comes LDL-B. The evil twin brother of LDL-A.
HDL, being in something of a hurry for fresh supplies of LDL, can't tell the difference between LDL-A and the evil twin brother, and takes LDL-B to any and all damage sites. BUT... since LDL-B is evil, it takes its small, dense self into the metaphorical pothole and makes it worse.
Now all sorts of random shit is falling into that pothole, including some excess triglycerides because Insulin is busy messing shit up, and you have the beginnings of arteriosclerosis. Artery-clogging 'cholesterol' buildup. And all that HDL can do about it is keep chucking LDL's down there in the hopes that some of them will work properly.
Medical science has been unable to tell LDL-A and LDL-B apart for decades, so they just called all LDL's bad and told us not to encourage any of them. Which, ironically, lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of people eating the things that made more LDL-B, which lead to rises in LDL levels, and increases in arteriosclerosis.
As well as increases in belly fat, diabetes, and all the other things a modern, "healthy" diet is supposed to be helping us avoid.
Yup. Modern Medicine really derped on that one. Big time. And the most worrying thing is that it is still derping over it, because the Sugar Industry, the Wheat Industry, the Diet Industry, and the Medicine Industry are all making shit-tons of money out of this huge mistake. It's in their best interests to keep it going.
So all of these assorted Industries are now acting like the Tobacco Industry and using the three D's on us to obfuscate the truth. Deny, Distract, and Delay. And, when all else has failed, they must eventually Decamp for greener pastures. So to speak. There isn't a First World problem that can't be exported to poor, Third World countries and lengthen profit margins once more.
They still have enough political clout to get doctors' licenses revoked if that doctor dares tell people about the truth. Regardless of the astounding results that show patients recovering from their "irreversible" chronic diseases all over the dang map. It's infuriating to me.
It should be infuriating to everyone.
But no. People hearing about Keto/LCHF for the first time have absolute panic fits. Because cholesterol is scary. Because fats are evil. Because the Experts Know Better... and those experts quietly feed us a plate of poison whilst telling us it's good for us.
The fact stands, though, that LCHF diets are the ones that make us healthy and happy. It will remain a fact no matter what.
As Galileo once said, And yet, it moves.
The truth cannot be denied forever.