With so many people now using the Keto Diet to shed unwanted fat, I thought it would be good to discuss the health benefits of ketones.
Ketones are an alternative fuel source produced by your liver from fats and free fatty acids.
For most people glucose, which is largely derived from carbohydrates, is the main energy source for most cells.
However, excess blood glucose can damage the lining of your cardiovascular system leading to a whole host of vascular health issues. One of which is type 2 diabetes.
When you restrict your carbohydrate intake, either through fasting or eliminating carbohydrates from your diet, then your body will retool its energy pathways for ketones, which are produced in your liver. They than circulated through your body for cellular energy.
Here is a brief overview of the health benefits of ketones:
Improved metabolism for brain and muscle tissue
Linked to increased longevity and average lifespan by up to 20%
Reduced blood sugar levels with the potential to reverse type 2 diabetes
Effective weight management especially as it applies to visceral fat
Activate longevity pathways to protect cells from age-related damage and deterioration
Sounds great except for the following challenge:
Most Keto diets are extremely hard to maintain.
And the reason why is two fold:
1. It requires a discipline to eliminate sugars and carbohydrates from your diet.
2. It requires changing your gut microbiome.
The second reason is the harder one because it’s your gut microbiome that drives your food choices.
Because of this, there are increased risk for certain types of cardiovascular diseases. As well as an increased risk for premature death. This is usually due to people consuming harmful fats that have their own health challenges.
Potential Solutions To Help Raise The Health Benefits of Ketones
Because ketones can be beneficial to your overall health, scientists have been researching ways to increase these levels without resorting to unhealthy fats. There are two main forms of ketones:
Beta-Hydroxybutyrate or BHB
Both of these forms are superior to other energy sources because they don’t raise blood glucose levels. Nor do they stimulate insulin secretion.
Additionally, they consume less of a substance called NAD leaving more of it to circulate in your blood stream. NAD helps to repair damaged DNA and stimulate proteins that have lifespan-extending properties.
Enter a compound called Mangiferin.
This compound is found in plants, especially mangos. It increase ketones by increasing beta-hydroxybutyrate levels in the blood stream. Several studies have shown how 150 mg of mangiferin per day can increase beta-hydroxybutyrate by up to 18% and acetoacetate levels by up to 10%.
Another promising way to increase ketone levels is to consume “resistant starch”. Most forms of starch are broken down into simple carbohydrates. These starches then raise blood sugar levels and trigger insulin secretion.
Resistant starches operate more like a fiber since they are not efficiently broken down by our digestive enzymes. They don’t raise blood glucose levels so insulin is kept in check.
Plus resistant starches help to support healthy gut flora while promoting a feeling of fullness and preserving lean body mass.
Here are some good sources for “resistant” starches:
Green bananas (must be green because as the banana turns yellow these starches are converted to simpler carbohydrates)
Raw potatoes (some people will supplement with raw potato starch)
These types of resistant starches help to increase your body’s short chain fatty acids, which your liver can then convert to ketones.
If you decide to try resistant starches, then start slow and gradually increase your consumption as your gut microbiome adapts.
This means that if you’re wanting to gain the health benefits of ketones, but don’t want to commit to the Keto diet, then add both of these natural sources to your meal plan. This will aid your liver in producing ketones that can than circulate in your blood stream as a healthy energy source.