22 Oct Is Keto the Right Diet for Gut Health and GI Issues?
For anyone familiar with current diet trends, keto seems to be on the tip of many people’s tongues. And for people looking for a solution to their GI issues or facing an endoscopy, trying a new diet may sound appealing. There are many claims out there that it could improve a dieter’s gut health. But how accurate are these claims?
As keto is a newer diet trend, the evidence is limited compared to more traditional diets. However, with so many claims circulating, it’s vital to assess the medical community’s current understanding of keto dieting and how it can affect the health of endoscopy and GI disease patients.
The Keto Diet
The keto diet, short for ketogenic, is a low-carb and high-fat diet. It has seen a sharp increase in popularity in recent years. With the keto diet comes many claims of health benefits in addition to weight loss. These include a decreased risk of diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The goal of the keto diet is to reach ketosis. At this stage, the body doesn’t have enough glucose to burn. Because of this, the body will turn to stores of fat. While this may be the goal, extreme ketosis can be dangerous, particularly for people with type 1 diabetes who are at greater risk of diabetic ketoacidosis.
How a Keto Diet Affects Gut Health
A healthy gut can have many positive impacts on a person’s health and possibly reduce the symptoms associated with GI issues that lead to an endoscopy. A healthy gut will have what nutritional scientists call good bacteria and immune cells.
Evidence shows that a keto diet does change the makeup of a person’s gut microbiome. However, what’s not clear is whether these changes are for the better or worse. This may also be affected by a person’s GI health before trying a keto lifestyle.
Some benefits are clear. For example, this way of eating started early in the 20th century to treat epilepsy. And based on studies, this form of treatment seems to hold up.
However, many worry about the negative consequences of a keto diet. This lifestyle is low in carbs which is where you’ll most often find fiber. Fiber is essential for a healthy gut and digestive system. For those suffering from GI disease, a lack of fiber may be the opposite of what they need.
According to the American Gut Project, diversity in diet can also mean diversity in a gut’s microbiome. And diversity is ideal because that represents diversity in bacteria that can ward off a broad range of unwanted viruses, diseases, and bacteria.
Should People with GI Diseases Try Keto?
For those with serious GI diseases, it’s essential to listen to the advice of their doctor. Before trying such a restrictive diet like keto, checking in with a professional who understands a patient’s specific medical history will give a better assessment.
Without conclusive evidence pointing to how keto affects gut health, it’s difficult to say if it’s the right choice for everyone. Some with IBS report that keto helped with symptoms. Others say it inflamed their symptoms. Until there is more evidence, it seems to depend on the person.
How to Improve Gut Health
The medical community cannot yet conclude whether keto will help or hurt a person’s gut health. But until that time comes, there are ways to improve a person’s gut health. These methods are tried, true, and based on science. Here are some ways to improve gut health without severely cutting out carbs.
- Eat diverse foods. Each food provides different bacteria and immune cells for your body. As your body comes in contact with a diverse range of harmful cells, having diversity in helpful cells is essential. Try a variety of fruits, vegetables, fats, and proteins each week.
- Get the right amount of fiber. Americans have a serious deficiency of fiber. Yet this will significantly reduce symptoms of GI issues and encourage proper digestion.
- Eat fermented foods. These foods are rich in lactobacilli which helps your health. This includes yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, and tempeh.
Verdict — The Jury is Still Out
When it comes to assessing whether a keto diet is the right choice for people with GI issues, the truth is that the evidence to support or deny health claims isn’t there. While there are some signs that it could be beneficial, others suggest it could do more harm than good.
The good news is that many years of evidence show that a balanced diet of protein, fat, and carbs can lead to a long and healthy life. So by taking in plenty of protein with fruits and vegetables, people can improve their health while avoiding the need for serious measures such as an endoscopy.