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When to Take Supplements on Keto

When to Take Supplements on Keto

The ketogenic diet, or “keto” for short, is almost as popular as the vegan diet.

Despite popular belief, these diets do have a few things in common. You’ll be cutting out a lot of food groups on either path. Therefore, many people choose to take supplements on their keto journey.

Ketogenic diets are named after ketones or ketosis.

Ketosis is when your body uses fat as its primary fuel source rather than glucose. This is appealing for people trying to lose weight.

You can quickly put your body in ketosis by taking exogenous ketones. These are supplements supplied through an external source. Endogenous ketones are ketones naturally made by your body during ketogenesis.

An easy way to remember this is EXogenous, which are EXternally produced and consumed via the diet.

Many athletes choose to go keto to boost athletic performance, while others prefer the keto lifestyle to lose weight.

What keto-friendly supplements to take – and when to take them – are big questions, and ones we intend to answer in this article.

5 Effective Keto Diet Supplements

  • Because the keto diet requires strict adherence to a low-carb, high-fat diet, the regime can be challenging for some.

    Ensuring that you have all of the necessary nutrients to thrive is key to getting this diet to work for you. 

    Some people experience low libido and even keto flu at the beginning of their keto journey. To reduce or mitigate these symptoms, you might consider fuelling up with supplements that complement your keto diet.

    Here are four key nutritional ketosis supplements that you should know about.

    1. Exogenous Ketones (Instant Ketone Powder)

    Exogenous ketones are externally sourced salts that can quickly put your body into ketosis.

    In some cases taking exogenous ketones can reduce appetite by lowering the hunger hormone known as “ghrelin.” This can be a bonus to those looking to lose weight. 

    Ketosis has also been found to increase performance in endurance athletes. However, one of the side effects of a keto diet is depleted electrolyte stores.

    The best electrolyte supplement for keto can be paired with exogenous ketones with added electrolyte mineral salts to remineralise the body. This makes life that little bit easier.

    When to take exogenous ketones: you should take exogenous ketones to avoid the keto flu for endurance or boost athletic performance. The best time of day to take exogenous ketones is when you’re hungry first thing in the morning.

    2. Magnesium

    Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, and it’s not typically consumed in high enough amounts via the diet.

    In addition, magnesium-rich foods are often avoided on keto because they are generally high in carbs. Therefore, many experts believe that supplementation with magnesium is a good idea when following the keto diet.

    Supplementation with magnesium can also provide other beneficial effects such as stress relief and enhanced quality of sleep.

    Some low-carb foods with magnesium include pumpkin seeds, avocado, Swiss chard and spinach. Unfortunately, magnesium is often overlooked, despite being required for more than 300 enzyme reactions in the body.

    When to take magnesium supplements: Magnesium is needed for all systems in the body and should be taken daily. The time doesn’t really matter, but you should take at a time that you can stick with every day.

    3. MCT Oil/Powder 

    MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, a type of oil or fatty acid that your body can quickly absorb. MCT is found naturally in coconut oil and increases your fat intake, and enhances the ketogenic state.

    Taking MCT oil is easy, especially when consumed in a concentrated powder. You can quickly add it to smoothies or soups to help keep your body in ketosis.

    However, too much MCT oil can lubricate your body and make you feel nauseous or give you diarrhoea.

    Get started with a small dose and incrementally increase the amount until you reach the desired quantity. 

    When to take MCT oil: MCT oil is great to help you through a fast; it’s ideal to take last thing at night because many people report that they can think better in the morning after taking it. 

    4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    Omega-3 fatty acids offer a myriad of health benefits, from reducing inflammation to boosting brain health.

    Omega-3 fatty acids can help balance fat intake and boost health and well-being for those on the keto diet.

    Doses up to 3000 mg are considered safe by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), while the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says that up to 5000 mg per day is safe.

    Because many people choose the keto diet for weight loss, it’s interesting to look at the science behind taking omega-3 or even omega-7 supplements for weight loss.

    One paper reviewed 21 studies and found that there may be some benefit in reducing abdominal fat with omega-3 fish oil. 

    When to take omega-3 fatty acids: because omega-3 is a lipid, it’s best taken alongside a meal for maximum absorption. 

    5. Keto Protein Powders 

    When looking for a keto protein powder, it pays to get one that’s packed with plant protein, probiotics, enzymes, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

    That way, you’ll have one go-to drink that is bursting with nutrition. Thus, making it super easy to enhance your keto journey.

    Of course, the best thing about a protein shake is that you can fill it with all of the nutrients you need. 

    Maximum Vibrance is a supercharged protein powder used as a meal replacement, or a pre or post-workout drink. Or take a look at another Vibrant Health product - Green Vibrance + Protein. This is the wawrd-winning Green Vibrance with 20g of plant based  protein.

    Taken with the supplements on this list, a nutritionally dense protein powder can be enjoyed at any time of the day.

    Ideally, I like to advise first thing in the morning, as that way you know that you won’t forget.

    When to take keto protein powder: Keto protein powder is great first thing in the morning or 45 minutes after exercise as a recovery drink.

    What is the Keto Flu?

    The keto flu is a condition that doctors do not yet recognise. The good news is the symptoms don’t occur in everyone who starts the keto diet. However, they do appear in many people two to seven days after starting the keto diet .

    Symptoms include constipation, headache, fatigue, nausea and difficulty sleeping.

    The most likely cause for the keto flu is the swift change in dietary habits. Our gut microbiome adjusts to dietary changes so that it can better utilise the fuel consumed.

    Therefore, altering your diet significantly can lead to detoxification or a shift in the microbiome that, in turn, creates a domino effect inside your body as it attempts to reach homeostasis or balance.

    Related: Keto Flu Symptoms to Watch Out For [Plus Popular Remedies]

    Conclusion

    Omega-3 fatty acids can help balance fat intake and boost health and well-being for those on the keto diet.

    Taking supplements on a keto diet is advisable so that you can ensure your body has adequate nutrition.

    However, balancing the micros and macros can be taxing, so for peace of mind, consuming the five supplements outlined above alongside a general multivitamin is a good idea.

    The main thing to remember is that you need to be consistent to make the most out of your keto lifestyle!

    Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Can Vegans Do Keto? A Complete Diet and Food List

Can Vegans Do Keto? A Complete Diet and Food List

Can Vegans Do Keto? A Complete Diet and Food List

As a Vegan Health Coach, I am fascinated by how to optimise the vegan diet. Not least, in beneficial ways that will improve overall health.

What I’ve found over the years is that just being vegan doesn’t equal healthy. A lot of vegans classify themselves as “junk food vegans.”

That’s all fine and well – until illness sets in. There’s no escaping the fact that eating sugary processed foods will make you ill in time, vegan or not.

The human body doesn’t do well with hyper-processed foods and, in most cases, eating too much sugar can lead to chronic diseases of all types. Therefore, the idea of going “keto” and being “vegan” makes sense.

Mainly because the keto diet cuts out a lot of the nonsense, e.g. the sugar and processed foods, so you can focus on filling up with more nutrient-dense foods.

But the question remains, can you do a plant-based keto diet? And is there really a dairy-free keto diet that’s safe to follow? That’s what we’ll set out to establish in this article.

I’d like to add that I’ve put clients on a sugar-free, low-carb vegan diet temporarily and reversed pre-diabetes. So I am confident that the vegan keto diet can offer amazing health benefits! Especially as a metabolic cleanse.

What is the Ketogenic Diet?


In short, the ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet. Broken down, the macronutrients of a ketogenic diet look like:

  • 70% Fat
  • 25% Protein
  • 5% Carbs

By keeping your daily intake of carbohydrates (carbs) under 10% you’ll induce a state known as “ketosis”.

RelatedKeto vs Atkins – Similarities, Differences, Which is Best?

The Process of Ketosis


Ketosis is a natural body process where your body uses fat for fuel instead of glucose.

In this state, your liver produces “ketones,” which help you burn fat.

For many people, weight loss is the number one reason they decide to go on a ketogenic diet. To burn up fat stores, and in turn, lose weight.

However, there is a wide range of other health benefits that occur when following a ketogenic diet.

The Benefits of the Vegan Keto Diet


There are a wide range of health benefits both of the ketogenic diet and also a (vegan) whole food plant-based diet. So it makes perfect sense to merge both dietary approaches together.

Some believe that the keto diet is a relatively new approach, but in fact, Guelpa and Marie proposed keto as an antiepilepsy treatment back in the 1920s. Of course, “mainstream” voices have long told us that dietary fat should be avoided. Advertisements in the 80s and 90s assured us that that eating fat increased our risk of heart disease and putting on weight.

We now know that a high fat, low carb ketogenic diet actually helps you to lose weight, control blood sugar, improve insulin resistance and ward off chronic illness.  The ketogenic diet may even aid in cognitive function.

The vegan diet, on the other hand, provides a lot of beneficial plant compounds jam-packed with nutrients, fibre and vitamins. Vegans also tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) when compared to non-vegans.

However, we’re all individual and a carefully planned-out diet tailored to your own body and lifestyle will ensure that you get all of the nutrients you need to thrive.

What Can You Eat on a Vegan Diet?


A vegan diet cuts out all animal products. This includes avoiding meat, dairy, fish, eggs and honey. The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives. Especially if you get creative.

Vegan milk can be made from oats, soy, rice, hemp seeds, peas or almonds. On a vegan keto diet, meat can easily be substituted for tofu, lentils, cauliflower, or walnuts.

Becoming vegan is exciting, especially if you like to experiment in the kitchen.

You can use a wide range of flavours to create all of your favourite dishes. Most savoury dishes can be artfully created with spices like cumin, paprika, oregano, pink salt, garlic and onion.

If you’re going both vegan and keto, then you’ll need to find alternatives to sugar and avoid high-carb foods. You’ll also need to pack your diet with nutrition.

Using superfood protein powders in your smoothies and adding choice supplements will ensure that your diet is overflowing with goodness.

3 Great Keto-Friendly Sweeteners


Remember, sugar is 100% carbs, and so must be assiduously avoided on the keto diet.

That can be a bit restrictive, but if you know what to use instead, then you can substitute dates, agave, sugar or honey for keto-friendly sweeteners like:

  • Monkfruit
  • Erythritol
  • Stevia

The question remains…

Can You Do a Plant-based Vegan Keto Diet?

The short answer is: YES! If you’re willing to put in the effort to ensure that you have adequate nutrition.

One thing I’d like to add here is that people often eat an unbalanced omnivore diet and get worried about going vegan or keto. When, in actual fact, you’ll be eating a lot more natural foods when you are vegan. Especially if you go for a wholefood plant-based diet.

I often hear people worry about going vegan and getting all of their nutrients. I hear them, but in reality, they often weren’t healthy as omnivores anyway! Just a personal gripe of mine that I wanted to throw out there…

In saying that, if you want to do a vegan keto diet, then that’s amazing. You’ll do well to carefully plan out your meals and nutrients to ensure that you thrive.

What Can Vegans Eat on Keto? What to Eat and What to Avoid


I’ll dive into what you CAN eat first, so you’re not scared off.

  • Coconut oil
  • Coconut milk
  • Olive oil, hemp oil
  • Avocado
  • Low-carb nuts: pecans, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, walnuts, pine nuts, almonds
  • Nut and seed butter
  • Sprouted seeds
  • Tofu, tempeh
  • Vegan nut cheese
  • Vegetables: green beans, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, broccoli, leafy greens, bell peppers, olives, spinach, zucchini, cauliflower
  • Fruit: lemons, cantaloupe melon, watermelon, berries, tomatoes, peaches, star fruit

Interestingly, vegetables that are keto-friendly are also prebiotics. Meaning, they feed the good bacteria in your gut. This can help balance your gut flora and promote overall health.

RelatedWhy Gut Health is Vital for Immunity

Foods to Avoid on a Vegan Keto Diet


The main things you need to avoid on a vegan keto diet are high-carb/ starchy foods.

  • All animal products including meat, fish, dairy, honey and eggs
  • Gelatin
  • Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, yams, peas, corn, parsnips, beetroot, onions (a small amount is OK), artichoke and cassava.
  • Sugar and sweeteners
  • Grains: pasta, bread, rice
  • High-carb nuts: cashews, pistachios, chestnuts
  • Processed foods, including sauces and sweetened condiments
  • Low-fat diet foods
  • High-carb alcohol: wine, beer and sweet cocktails
  • Sweetened drinks

PRO TIP: although you can eat certain fruits on a keto diet, you should limit your intake of fruits. Also, tomatoes are also known as night-shades. If you’re following a keto diet to reverse leaky gut or metabolic syndrome, then it’s advisable to avoid nightshades.

Related5 Great Cooking Oils and Fats to Use on a Keto Diet

The Bottom Line

Both vegan and keto diets can offer a wide range of health benefits, for the most part. Increasing the amount of plant-based nutrition in your diet and reducing processed food is always a good idea.

However, if you want to go for a full vegan ketogenic diet, then it’s advisable to speak with an expert who can help you to balance your nutrients and create a tailor-made meal plan.

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

 

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Can Ketones Help Alleviate Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease?

Can Ketones Help Alleviate Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer’s Disease affects around 44 million people, and with no known cure, a diagnosis can feel like a death sentence. But is there a solution right under our noses?

Emerging research indicates that dietary changes – specifically those geared towards improving metabolic health – can have a profound effect on sufferers of Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders.

Indeed, there was an entire section of presentations at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) dedicated to brain ketone metabolism and advanced ketone strategies.

In essence, dietary interventions “train” the brain to use ketone bodies instead of glucose for energy, with attendant benefits for cognitive function and energy supply.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the evidence.

Ketones for Alzheimer’s: The Basics


Ketosis is a natural metabolic state wherein the body produces ketone bodies out of fat, and uses them for energy instead of carbs.

It is the principle of the ketogenic diet, which has become massively popular in recent years but has also been used in epilepsy cases for over a century.

Ketone bodies are molecules generated in the liver which are capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier and providing energy in the absence of glucose.

That’s right, ketones are perfectly able to meet the brain’s energy needs.

Alzheimer’s is caused by cellular dysfunction and an abnormal buildup of protein in and around brain cells, leading to their decreased function and eventual death.

The main risk factors are age (risk doubles every five years after you reach 65), family history, cardiovascular disease and head injuries.

With the brain unable to effectively metabolise glucose, ketones step in as a welcome alternative energy source – and a neuroprotective one, at that.

A weight of scientific evidence indicates that ketones can alter the brain’s metabolism in ways that reduce neuropathology and alleviate behavioural symptoms.

Ketones have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, serving to prevent damage to cells in the brain.

Ketones for Alzheimer’s: The Available Evidence


2019 University of Sherbrooke study underlined the benefits of ketogenic medium-chain triglycerides (kMCT) for seniors with mild cognitive impairment.

Over a period of six months, the 52 subjects were given a daily placebo or the aforementioned kMCT supplement, and their results recorded.

The results were astonishing: measures of episodic memory, language, executive function and processing speed improved in the kMCT group, with increased brain ketone uptake positively linked to several cognitive measures.

“The energy problem in the brain can be corrected by supplying ketones to replace the problem with glucose,” said lead author Stephen Cunnane.

Also in 2019, a small study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease sought to test the efficacy of a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet.

The Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers found small but measurable improvements on standardised brain function/memory tests in 14 older adults with mild cognitive problems suggestive of early Alzheimer’s.

According to Jason Brandt, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences and neurology, “Using dietary changes to mitigate cognitive loss in early-stage dementia would be a real game-changer. It’s something that 400-plus experimental drugs haven’t been able to do in clinical trials.”

In 2018, meanwhile, a clinical trial testing the feasibility of the ketogenic diet for Alzheimer’s Disease found that cognition was improved in seven very mild and four mild AD patients.

In this one, subjects had to faithfully follow the keto diet while also taking MCT supplements over a period of three months.

Those who did so exhibited a 4.1 point improvement in cognition on the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale Test (ADAS-Cog).

Given that a 4 point improvement is deemed clinically meaningful, this was no small feat. All scores returned to normal when the participants returned to their normal diets.

Earlier studies have had similarly impressive results. In 2012, for example, older adults following a low-carb diet benefited from “improved verbal memory performance”, with elevated ketone levels believed to be responsible.

As noted in the study, “While this effect may be attributable in part to correction of hyperinsulinemia, other mechanisms associated with ketosis such as reduced inflammation and enhanced energy metabolism also may have contributed to improved neurocognitive function.”

In 2016, a further study was conducted to determine if ketones could help a 63-year-old male patient with younger-onset Alzheimer’s.

Amazingly, gradual improvements occurred over the course of a year, including in memory recall, word finding, task completion, conversation and social participation.

It’s worth reading the entire study to appreciate just how life-changing ketone supplementation was for this particular individual.

How to Increase Ketone Production

There are many methods of reaching ketosis. One is by fasting, which depletes the body’s glucose stores and in the process induces natural ketone production.

Another is by following a high-fat, low-carb ketogenic type diet, perhaps with the inclusion of medium chain triglycerides such as coconut and MCT oil which boost ketone production.

Other things which can help you more readily get into ketosis include intense physical exercise (fasted cardio is particularly effective), consuming an adequate protein intake and drinking coffee in the morning.

You might also consider supplementing with exogenous ketones. These can increase ketone concentration in the blood without activating starvation mode. Exogenous ketones make it easier to enter ketosis and also mitigate common side effects of the keto diet.

If you’re keen to maximise ketone generation, you could try all of the above in combination: pursue a ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting, a busy exercise protocol and exogenous ketone supplementation.

Conclusion

A 2017 study published in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy suggested that one third of Alzheimer’s cases could be preventable if people take action to address modifiable risk factors. As we have demonstrated above, there is also hope for those already diagnosed.

Remember, in the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease the brain is unable to efficiently use glucose as an energy source. The principle of replacing glucose with ketones is a sound one, and offers promise for those wishing to preserve cognitive function into their senior years.

The important thing is to cut out the sugar and starches to help the body make a metabolic switch.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Can the Ketogenic Diet Improve Cognitive Health?

Can the Ketogenic Diet Improve Cognitive Health?

Nutritional ketosis or the Ketogenic Diet (KD) - "keto" for short – was originally developed as a treatment for epilepsy in children in the 1920s. As such, the KD has always had its roots as a treatment for mental disorders.

The keto diet has been scientifically proven to reduce markers for cognitive decline such as pain and inflammation, as well as improve mitochondrial respiration (helping our cells breath) and reduce oxidative stress.

The diet is now being studied for its efficacy in the treatment of a wide range of cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD) and depression, due to its neuroprotective effects.

In this article, we shall take a closer look at the ketogenic diet and investigate its implications for brain health specifically.

Why is Keto Trending Now?


You might be wondering why we are just learning about the keto diet now, if it’s been around for almost a century and has so many healing effects on the body and mind.

There are many reasons for the KD being pushed back. Both the interests of commerce and the discovery of diphenylhydantoin (an anti-seizure medication) in 1938 shifted the focus of physicians. It’s easier to prescribe a drug than to tailor a ketogenic diet for each patient.

The viability of the KD is often put into question when it’s administered incorrectly. For example, if the macronutrients are not given in the correct proportions. For this reason, in 2015 Raymund Edwards invented the Optimal Ketogenic Living (OKL) chart, which is an easy way to make sure you get what you need from your keto diet to reap the best rewards.

Another reason the ketogenic diet has been put on the back burner is that in the mid-19th century, ketones were found in patients with advanced diabetes. This finding led many physicians to vilify the KD, despite thousands of reports to the contrary.

Since then, many studies have been carried out to discover the exact mechanisms of ketones in the body. Recent findings have uncovered the many healing benefits of the ketone metabolites on metabolic diseases.

Low-Fat vs High-Fat: A Brief History


The low-fat, high-carb diet craze swept the world in the 1960’s as the correlation between high-fat and heart disease became popularised.

After 1980, the low-fat hype had firmly taken hold and was accepted as the “healthy choice”. In fact, the low-fat ideology began back in the 19th century as both an aesthetic practice and a healing modality.

This approach assumed that fat was the main factor for disease and totally washed over all of the other elements needed for good health. Removing all of the fat from food resulted in high amounts of refined carbs, sugar and salt being used extensively to give the food taste.

Without the additives, ultra-processed food that has had its fat removed is bland and tasteless. Now we have scientists creating chemical concoctions that manipulate our senses with fake foods that hit the “bliss point” – tricking our brains into thinking that the food is good.

For a deep dive on dietary fat, check out our blog Good Fats, Bad Fats.

A New Era for the Ketogenic Diet


Fast forward to 2019 and we have an obesity epidemic, chronic illness and heart disease is the number one killer. Go figure.

The low-fat high-carb approach doesn’t seem to be working for health or weight loss. So we need a new approach. Hence the KD is gaining massive popularity worldwide.

Ketogenic diets are re-emerging as a viable way to reduce inflammation in the brain and other areas of the body to reclaim health.

Brain inflammation can be fatal in head injuries, where it does the opposite of its desired effect. Instead of helping to heal the brain, inflammation makes matters worse. Suppressing inflammation is a key issue after brain injury.

Additionally, excitatory cells are also more active in injured brain tissue, which can lead to cellular death.

Neuroprotective Effects of the Keto Diet

The neuroprotective benefits of the keto diet cannot always be followed in brain injured patients due to their physical condition. For this reason, a group of neuroscientists led by Chris Dulla at Tufts University School of Medicine have created a KD mimicker drug called 2-deoxyglucose (2-DG).

Their trial showed some promising results, as the 2-DG treatment reduced cell excitation, lessened cellular death and prevented the development of epileptic brain activity.

The KD drug is only intended as a short-term solution for brain-injured patients who cannot follow the ketogenic diet due to physical constraints.

A new research paper has been released studying a previously unmanageable brain tumour called Glioblastoma, or GBM for short. Glioblastoma is the most aggressive form of brain cancer and mortality from this condition is largely connected to systemic inflammation.

As with all cancers, the fuel is glucose and glutamine. One pivotal way to suppress tumour growth is to remove the fuel source, reducing cancer viability and invasion.

In the study, they prescribed a calorically-restricted ketogenic diet (KD-R)to reduce sugar circulating in the blood. (Neuroprotective ketone bodies are increased when following the KD.)

The Effect of Ketones on the Brain

Ketone bodies protect the brain from neurodegeneration (depletion of the neurons in the brain). While our bodies are using ketone bodies (fat) as a fuel source, there is a significant decrease in glucose, leptin, insulin and pro-inflammatory markers. This makes the ketogenic diet a good choice for those with brain conditions including brain injury.

The ketogenic diet has been found to have both anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Ketone bodies activate the body’s Nrf2 antioxidant defence mechanism, which is a process by which the body up-regulates its detoxification pathways.

When this process is activated, harmful free radicals that stimulate inflammation are mopped up.

The blood ketone levels of ?-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate increase when we are in ketosis. Both compounds are neuroprotective and non-fermentable. Being non-fermentable is a key component in its healing capacities, as cancer cells have gone through several stages of mutation and use ancient fermentation pathways for fuel.

Tumours are incompatible with the healthy energy production of the oxidative phosphorylation (OxPhos) pathways. Cancer does not use oxygen or ketone bodies for fuel, so the KD-R is an ideal approach in the treatment of brain cancer.

The Metabolic Switch


When switching the diet from using glucose as fuel to using ketone bodies (fat), we change how the body produces and uses energy.

The brain is not static in its fuel options. Previously we thought that the brain, once formed, was fixed. However, that has not proved to be the case. The brain is highly adaptable.

Switching up the fuel source to ketone bodies has proven to adapt neural networks and enhance resistance to stress, injury and disease.

Conclusion

As mentioned earlier, the Ketogenic Diet was originally designed as a treatment to heal brain disorders – but it is proving to have far more wide-reaching health benefits.

Ongoing research in both animal and human models further explains the intricacies of how the body adapts to using fat for fuel. The KD has neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can enhance cognitive abilities and promote brain healing.

If you’ve found this article interesting, and are considering embarking on the keto diet – for cognitive benefits or perhaps to lose weight – you’ll want to avoid keto flu. Our blog on the subject is required reading!

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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5 Great Cooking Oils and Fats to Use on a Keto Diet

5 Great Cooking Oils and Fats to Use on a Keto Diet

In a very basic nutshell, the ketogenic diet focuses on reducing carbohydrates while increasing your fat intake and including adequate amounts of healthy proteins.

This forces your body to burn fat for energy which is known as ketosis. The diet has many health benefits including reduced inflammation, improved brain health, enhanced energy, increased longevity, weight loss, better overall health and a potentially reduced risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Eating the right kinds of fat on a ketogenic diet is essential if you want to stay healthy. So, avoid processed fats and focus on healthy fat sources such as oily fish, nuts and seeds, avocado, olives, eggs and grass-fed (preferably organic) red meat and poultry.

Using the right cooking oils and fats is vital too, and you want to avoid processed and heated oils that may have been made from GMO ingredients, sticking to organic, raw, cold pressed ones instead.

It's important to remember that even healthy oils can become carcinogenic when they are overheated, so it's good to be aware of how to use them. Here are five healthy cooking oils and fats to use on a keto diet.

1) Extra virgin olive oil


One of the healthiest oils around, this antioxidant-rich oil is high in oleic acid (OA), a monounsaturated fat providing many health benefits.

Research has linked OA to reduced inflammation, improved heart health, decreased blood pressure, and it may help to protect against cancers including breast cancer.

It’s important to note that the smoke point of extra virgin olive oil ranges from 176 to 210 Celsius, so be aware of cooking it at lower temperatures.

Of course, it’s always best to simply drizzle it over salads and cooked vegetables for optimal health benefits.

2) Coconut oil


Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs) which travel directly to the liver where they are used for energy or transformed into ketones.

Ketones can benefit brain function and may improve Alzheimer’s symptoms, and MCTs can increase fat burning, boosting metabolism and contributing to weight loss while increasing satiety and reducing appetite.

The smoke point of coconut oil is 177 Celsius which is suitable for very gentle frying or sautéing, and you can also stir it into your morning coffee or tea.

3) Avocado oil


This heart-healthy oil is fantastically versatile and the safest to use at increased cooking temperatures as it has the highest smoke point of all at 270 Celsius.

Avocado oil is rich in oleic acid and also contains the carotenoid antioxidant lutein which benefits eye health.

Carotenoids are phytonutrients found in colourful fruits, and they need to be consumed with fat to enhance their absorption. Avocado oil has been found to increase this.

It also helps to reduce inflammation and may ease stiff joints, reducing arthritic symptoms.

4) Ghee


If you are not lactose intolerant, then you can include some dairy in a keto diet. It must be grass-fed, and preferably organic and raw.

Casein is a protein, and lactose is a sugar molecule, and these are both found in dairy, often being responsible for the sensitivity experienced in some people.

Ghee has the milk solids removed and is free of (or sometimes extremely low in) casein and lactose, so it can still be a suitable cooking option if you are dairy intolerant.

Ghee has a high smoke point of around 252 Celsius, and research has shown it to release lower amounts of the carcinogenic compound acrylamide during cooking.

It is rich in vitamins A, D, K and E which are vital for overall health and wellbeing including reduced inflammation, eye health, increased immunity and skin health.

Ghee contains conjugated linoleic acid which may promote weight loss and aid cancer prevention, and it’s also rich in butyrate which encourages gut health.

5) Lard


Lard is not as high in saturated fat as you might think. in fact, it contains almost 50% healthy monounsaturated fats and has less cholesterol than butter.

What’s more, lard is one of the most abundant food sources of vitamin D – and its saturated fat content means it doesn’t go rancid as quickly as plant-based oils.

Lard has a slightly higher smoke point than coconut oil at 188 Celsius, so is better used for sautéing and frying at lower temperatures. Just make sure it is grass-fed and organic for maximum health benefits!

Conclusion

When eating keto, it is crucial to stick to healthy fats, avoiding processed fatty foods and less healthy cooking oils.

The smoke point determines the safest cooking heat when using oils and fats to ensure minimal exposure to carcinogenic toxins. Avocado oil and ghee are the most stable oil and fat to use as they can tolerate much higher temperatures.

It’s also important to store your oils appropriately to avoid rancidity which is harmful to your health (cool dark places or the fridge). Always remember to go for raw, cold pressed oils and grass-fed animal fats and try to buy organic.

Keto Recommendations

Whether you are about to embark on your keto journey or are already following a ketogenic diet, you may be interested in our keto test strips by Divine Health. They monitor the ketone output in your urine so that you can keep better track of your diet success.

The urine strips are economical, easy to use and clinically tested for accuracy. They are recommended to low-carb dieters as well as those looking to manage their diabetes by closely monitoring ketone levels. They can also help you to identify any triggers that knock you out of ketosis.

This article was written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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keto diet word cloud on napkin

Keto Flu: Symptoms to Watch Out For [Plus Popular Remedies]

Keto Flu: Symptoms to Watch Out For

The ketogenic diet has been hailed by a generation of savvy health and fitness enthusiasts – and for good reason. After all, the high-fat, low-carb diet’s ability to torch body fat, tackle type-2 diabetes and improve brain health is legendary.

It’s not plain sailing, though: the keto diet is hard work. And it can be even harder when keto flu strikes.

In this article, we’ll run you through the common side effects of the ketogenic diet, including those typically associated with the dreaded keto flu.

While not strictly a flu, these symptoms can quickly drain your enthusiasm for continuing with the keto diet. Although they’re only temporary, it’s good to know how to deal with them as and when keto flu rears its head.

Read on to find out about the symptoms to watch out for, as well as the effective fixes you can deploy.

What is Keto Flu, What are the Symptoms?


Keto flu is a name given to a raft of flu-like symptoms which occur in people embarking on the ketogenic diet.

The symptoms tend to crop up just as your body shifts from burning glucose for fuel to burning fat.

This metabolic switch is a gradual process, as the body starts to tap into an alternative fuel source when blood sugar is running low. As such, keto flu isn’t something that usually happens overnight.

The majority of keto dieters report experiencing their first symptoms of keto flu towards the end of their first week on keto.

Before they arrive you’ll likely be too busy focusing on ignoring powerful sugar cravings: the insistent voice in your head that urges you to abandon this keto folly and please just eat some simple carbohydrates!

Some people bow to sugar cravings but if you’re already sold on the keto diet, and looking forward to more energy, weight loss and the mental clarity engendered by the brain’s access to ketones, you should embrace the challenge and fight them off.

However as the days pass, insulin levels drop and your liver starts to convert fat into ketones; at this point your body excretes extra sodium and water in your urine and keto flu starts to take hold.

The most common keto flu symptoms are given below.

• Sore throat

• Headache

• Tiredness or insomnia

• Congestion or runny nose

• Back pain

• Dizziness

• Anxiety and irritability

• Brain fog

• Earache

• Vomiting

Doesn’t sound great, does it? But don’t fret: keto flu doesn’t last long and when you come out the other side, you can look forward to a complete reversal of the symptoms.

Where before you had been tired and lacking in concentration, you’ll experience a spike in energy levels and a sharpened focus.

Does Everyone Get Keto Flu?


The response to the keto transition will vary from person to person and  can depend on how reliant upon carbohydrates you were before embarking on the diet.

While some people feel fine as they move towards ketosis, experiencing little more than a moderate sense of tiredness and manageable carb cravings, others might battle several symptoms at once while their body taps into its new fuel source.

Remember, keto flu symptoms generally go away all by themselves within a few days.

How to Avoid (Or Survive) Keto Flu: 6 Effective Remedies

As mentioned above, your kidneys dump extra sodium and water in your urine as you adapt to the ketogenic diet. And this filtration process is at least partly responsible for symptoms of the keto flu.

The solution? Replace some of the sodium and water you are excreting. Use a good-quality Himalayan or sea salt salt and sip water throughout the day.

Better still, drink filtered, mineral-rich alkaline water which will supply you with the alkaline minerals the keto diet is known to deplete.

You can also minimise your risk of experiencing keto flu by starting slowly, so perhaps adopting a low-carb diet before launching headlong into the keto diet.

If it’s too late and you’re already in the midst of full-blown keto flu, don’t worry: there are several coping mechanisms and ways to relieve the symptoms of it.

• Up the electrolytes

Loss of electrolytes is a common side effect of the keto diet, so increasing your intake of sodium, potassium and magnesium is smart. As well as drinking mineral water and being more liberal with the salt shaker, think about taking an electrolyte supplement. Our organic plant-based Electrolytes contain five essential electrolytes (those listed above plus calcium and chloride) as well as 72 trace minerals, and has a pleasant pineapple-coconut flavour. Even if you’re free of keto flu symptoms, you may require additional electrolytes, particularly if you engage in exercise. Listen to your body.

• Eat more fat

The keto flu can sometimes be due to insufficient fat consumption. It could be that you are devouring too much meat and protein and not enough healthy fats, including omega-3s and omega-6s. Be liberal with your usage of extra-virgin or avocado oil, eat oily fish (or take an omega-3 fish oil), grass-fed butter, avocado, coconut oil, the works. As well as helping to remedy keto flu, a higher fat intake will help with satiety and expedite ketosis.

• Use instant ketones

Ketone supplements – so-called ‘instant’ ketones –contain exogenous ketones such as beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), which are identical to those produced naturally by the body. The reason they can help with the keto flu is because they quicken the process of fat adaptation. Other benefits of exogenous ketones include improved energy and focus, less cravings and greater weight loss. 

• Eat plant protein

There’s no shortage of protein or fat in the keto diet, but some people can go overboard on the meat protein which has the twin disadvantages of preventing you entering ketosis and also overloading the bowel. And there is another unintended consequence: if you take too much protein, the body will break down amino acids to produce – wait for it – sugar (glucose).

Opting for some clean sources of plant protein is a great idea, as it will ensure that you receive the phytonutrients and carotenoids you might otherwise miss out on when prioritising fats and animal protein. Food wise, make sure you’re eating nuts, seeds, nut butters, tempeh, legumes. 

Conclusion

Keto flu is horrible, but by following our guidance you should be able to avoid keto flu or at least minimise the worst of the symptoms when they appear.

If you find that you’ve successfully shrugged off keto flu, only for it to return, it’s possible your protein intake is a little too high. Moderate and monitor to get over the hurdle.

Of course, you’ll want to know when you’re in ketosis – which is where ketone test strips come in.

Do you have any tips for overcoming the keto flu that we haven’t covered? We’d love to hear about them. Hit the Contact tab at the top of this page to get in touch.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Keto vs Atkins: Similarities, Key Differences, Which is Best?

Keto vs Atkins: Similarities, Key Differences, Which is Best?

The idea that restricting carbs might be good for our waistline, as well as our general health, has been around for a long time. While Dr. Robert Atkins was certainly not the first to tout this concept, the eponymous Atkins diet garnered mainstream attention when his Diet Revolution book sold millions of copies in the early ‘70s.

It’s safe to say the Atkins diet isn’t as popular as it once was. But the idea that high-fat, low-carb diets are beneficial hasn’t disappeared. Indeed, the ketogenic diet has been touted by an increasing number of athletes and industry voices in recent years. Interestingly, the keto diet is older than the Atkins diet by more than half a century.

In this article, we want to definitively answer the question: which is better, keto or Atkins? In doing so, we shall examine the key similarities and differences between the protocols; ask which diet is best for beginners, and whether either is sustainable; and ultimately help you make an informed decision.

Keto versus Atkins: The Similarities


Firstly, let’s state clearly that there are many more similarities shared by keto and Atkins diets as there are differences. The primary one being that the Atkins diet is, well, ketogenic.

Both diets ensure that insulin drops so low that the body enters ketosis, a metabolic state typically triggered by prolonged fasting or starvation. In lieu of carbs, our muscles and tissues use up stored fat to satisfy their energy requirements, and the brain follows suit, in the form of ketones generated by the liver during ketosis.

Ketosis, incidentally, is reached when the individual consumes approximately 20g of carbohydrates per day (along with moderate protein and with the majority of calories coming from healthy fat).

This differs from the generic “low-carb” approach, which advocates anything less than 100g of day. If you’ve ever stuck to both rules, you’ll have noticed a massive difference.

The most-cited benefits of ketosis (not ketoacidosis, a variant that occurs in untreated diabetics and can actually be fatal) tends to be weight loss, greater energy and athletic performance, and brain health.

However, there is also compelling evidence that the heart runs more efficiently on ketones than blood sugar.

Still with us? Good. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between Atkins and keto.

Keto versus Atkins: The Differences


In the first phrase of the Atkins diet, it is virtually indistinguishable from keto. However, in subsequent phases the dieter is encouraged to gradually increase carbohydrates, eventually hitting around 100g per day: still “low-carb” but certainly well outwith the ketogenic zone.

While in the Atkins diet protein and fat are given similar weight, ketogenic firmly favours fat, with adherents urged not to go overboard on the protein (20-25% of daily calories). Why? Because the more calories that come from fat, the higher your production of ketones, the better your ability to enter ketosis. Also, excess protein can be converted to glucose in the body.

Of course, proponents of the Atkins diet contend that graduating from ketosis to moderate/liberal low carb still yields results, and indeed it may be a better choice for beginners.

The Atkins diet has gotten something of a bad rap due to it being the preferred choice of crash dieters, but its results are sustainable providing your insulin sensitivity is regular.

Tolerance to carbohydrates will vary from person to person, so the best rule of thumb would be to listen to your body and modify your intake accordingly.

On a ketogenic diet, meanwhile, the macros remain consistent: there is no second or third phase, with carbohydrates staying at 20 or perhaps 30g depending on your caloric intake.

Thus, keto can be considered a sustained metabolism reboot, whereas Atkins is more fluid.

Health Benefits of Atkins and Keto Diets

There are a great many studies worth citing that underline the health benefits of Atkins and keto style diets, whether for people battling cognitive decline or obesity. In studies of the lattersubjects who adhered to a high-fat, low-carb diet tend to lose much more weight than those on a low-fat, high-carb diet, sometimes by as much as 50%.

Low-carb adherents also tend to experience greater improvements in blood triglycerides and HDL, important biomarkers of heart health.

As for brain health benefits, ketogenic diets have been variously shown to improve verbal memory performance, reduce physical symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and delay motor neuron death.

One of the reasons for this neuroprotective effect is that ketones increase the number of mitochondria, the energy factories of brain cells. Another is that ketones help to reduce neuroinflammation and preserve synapses.

Remember, on a calorie-for-calorie basis, carbohydrates are the cheapest, most profitable nutrients for the food industry. It’s worth bearing this in mind whenever you hear keto or Atkins diets demonised. Oh, and if you are every told that ketosis being “life-threatening”, kindly inform the speaker that nutritional ketosis cannot achieve the level of ketones which would induce mortality. It is a fantasy.

From an evolutionary perspective, these diets make perfect sense. Storing surplus calories as fat was an undeniable advantage to our Palaeolithic antecedents who had to contend with frequent famine, and much of their food came from fatty meat and fibrous vegetables. Our earliest forebears did not have the luxury of freely available food (and certainly not freely-available sugar) in the form of well-stocked cupboards.

Supplements That Support Keto, Atkins and Low-Carb


Although real food should always be the focus, several supplements can be of benefit to individuals embarking on a ketogenic or even Atkins style diet. We have listed a few options below.

• KetoFit Protein: A unique blend of plant-based protein and medium chain triglycerides, this is the perfect accompaniment to a keto diet. KetoFit Protein contains 15g of protein, 15g of fat and just 2g of carbohydrates, or 10% of your daily carb allowance on the keto diet. The MCTs come from organic coconut oil and avocado oil, while the protein is from pea, pumpkin and quinoa. As a bonus, you get 20% of your daily iron, a thermogenic (fat-burning) and glucose management nutrient blend and an assortment of trace minerals.

• MCT Oil Powder: Supplying a minimum of 95% caprylic acid (C8) from medium-chain triglycerides, this powder from Ground-Based Nutrition ramps up production of ketone bodies: 400% more ketones than coconut oil and 21% more than regular MCT! Add to any hot or cold drink to augment your keto protocol.

• Plant-Based Electrolytes: Electrolyte imbalances caused by the keto diet can be remedied by focusing on getting your sodium, magnesium and potassium in balance. This will also help to address symptoms of the dreaded “keto flu”. These organic vegan electrolytes are a great option, deriving as they do from organic coconut water, organic banana, organic pineapple, Himalayan sea salt, organic tart cherry and trace minerals. Especially recommended if you’re coupling your keto or low-carb diet with intense or even moderate exercise!

Other supplements you might consider using while on keto include vitamin D, alkaline salt pH capsules, exogenous ketones and, since most of your calories will be coming from protein or fat, a nutrient-rich greens powder such as Green Vibrance. Green Vibrance has won more awards than any other greens supplement, and was the original product in this category when first released in 1992.

Keto or Atkins? The Verdict

To be sure, there are very many benefits to be gained from adopting a ketogenic or Atkins diet. Just remember the key differences: keto is a higher-fat diet, and more restrictive long-term. However, the benefits are likely to be greater, and thus it is the preferred option.

Pick whichever diet works for you and focus on getting some variety in the foods you consume. Vary your protein (while always opting for grass-fed) and fat sources and use supplements as and when required, as much as to nurture that variety as anything else.

Don’t forget, both diets emphasise restricting inflammatory foods and significantly reduce the carbohydrate/sugar content, so while they may seem challenging in the short-term, they provide serious long-term benefits and become much easier to manage as time goes on.

Of course, if you find keto or Atkins too difficult, you will almost certainly benefit from moderating your carbohydrate intake in general: 50-100g per day is enough for many people, a far cry from the 250g+ customary on the typical Western diet fuelling our obesity crisis.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Good Fats Bad Fats: Knowing the Difference

Good Fats, Bad Fats: Knowing the Difference

A new global study has correlated high consumption of dietary fats with a reduced risk of death and stroke.

In direct opposition to those who insist we should avoid saturated fats like the plague, scientists confirmed that cutting sat fats so they made up less than 3% of our total calories, actually increased death rates by 13%.

So what’s the story here? Who’s right? And should we steadfastly avoid fat or use it as a valuable energy source?

What the Study Says


The study in question was presented at last month’s European Society of Cardiology Congress in Barcelona. Led by Dr Mahshid Dehghan from Canada’s McMaster University, it investigated a global population of over 135,000 people in an attempt to determine dietary factors contributing to death rates.

As well as the aforementioned result for saturated fat reduction, scientists learned that eating more fat of all kinds reduced the overall risk of death by 23%; stroke risk by 18%; and non-heart related mortality by 30%.

The findings will be music to the ears of those in the field of nutrition who, rather than demonise fat, have long pointed the finger at refined carbohydrates when it comes to a multitude of negative health outcomes like obesity and diabetes.

Indeed, researchers found that diets high in carbs (77%) correlated with a 28% greater risk of mortality.

Should We Really Restrict Dietary Fat?


This is not the first time fat – and particularly saturated fat – has received good press. Indeed, many scientists, nutritionists and naturopathic doctors have been calling attention to the illegitimacy of saturated fat scaremongering for some time.

Several excellent books have been published on the subject, including Nina Teicholtz’s The Big Fat Surprise which came out a couple of years ago. Gary Taubes’ 2002 Times Magazine cover story What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie? was another early challenge to the conventional orthodoxy of restricting dietary fat.

And it’s not just those on the margins who refute the received ideas on saturated fats.

A recent meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, an offshoot off the BMJ, showed no association whatsoever between saturated fat consumption and all-cause mortality.

Nor was there any correlation for coronary heart disease, CHD mortality, ischaemic stroke or type-2 diabetes.

Despite this, the American Heart Association continues to state that nothing has changed: we should fear saturated fats, replacing them with unsaturated vegetable oils and spreads.

Public Health England agree, recommending that we eat no more than 30g of saturated fat per day.

It seems that these camps have bedded in for the long haul, unwilling to consider whether the guidance they are issuing may be wrong.

Amidst a deadlock that shows no signs of breaking, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) reviewed all of the available evidence on saturated fat and published its findings in May 2018.

They reinforced the anti-sat fat dogma by recommending “no changes to current government advice.”

Good Fats, Bad Fats and Omegas

Is there such a thing as good fats and bad fats? Patently, yes. There is a clear link, for instance, between artificial trans fats and coronary heart disease. This is why the US Food and Drug Administration is in the process of eliminating partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary source of trans fats, from the food chain.

Made by pumping vegetable oils with hydrogen, trans fats are cheap to produce and benefit from a long shelf life. Found in everything from doughnuts and cakes to frozen pizza and margarines, trans fats increase bad cholesterol – without simultaneously raising good cholesterol – and negatively affect lipoproteins.

Numerous observational studies also tie trans fat consumption with a spike in heart disease risk.

As for good fats, we are circling back to rockier ground. Saturated fats are still deemed to be unhealthy, with the vegetable and processed oil industry in particular keen to support this view. After all, these industries will be the chief beneficiaries if we were all to suddenly jettison sat fats from our diet.

But does this tell the whole story What about the benefits of saturated fats, such as they are? In fact, there are quite a few. In order for calcium to be efficiently assimilated into our bones, at least half of dietary fats should be saturated.

Saturated fats like lauric and myristic acid also play an essential role in immune health, and eating SFAs actually reduces one’s levels of Lipoprotein(a), a causal risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Of course, SFAs aren’t the only type of fat – there’s monounsaturated and polyunsaturated too. The difference between them lies in the bond structure: saturated fats contain no double bonds while monounsaturated have one double bond and polyunsaturated have more than one.

The unique molecular structure of each fat affects how it behaves within the body.

While saturated fats comprise animal fats and tropical oils, monounsaturated derive from olive oil, nuts, whole milk and avocados. It is generally considered a good fat, proving effective against heart disease, insulin resistance and bone weakness.

Polyunsaturated fats, meanwhile, are made up of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Like MUFAs, PUFAs have a solid reputation: they are known to reduce harmful LDL cholesterol and lower triglycerides while also offering protection for the heart and brain, benefits which stem mainly from the omega-3s.

Examples of omega-3 fats include oily fish and flaxseeds, while omega-6 is found in safflower, grapeseed and walnut oil.

Although polyunsaturated fats are considered healthy by many, it is vitally important to maintain a good balance of omega-6 to omega-3. Failing to do is associated with a number of dangerous effects, not least a steep rise in inflammation. This is because many omega-6s are pro-inflammatory, while omega-3s are anti-inflammatory.

Our ancestors are said to have followed a ratio of 1:1, and some of the healthiest populations in the world today (read: non-agricultural) maintain a similar score.

However, the modern Western diet contains far more omega-6 than omega-3: the oft-quoted figure is 16:1! We should continually strive to bring this back into balance.

Changing How We Look at Fats

The debate around dietary fats is sure to continue, possibly ad infinitum, but there are simple steps we can take to ensure we’re eating healthily.

Perhaps the single most important one is to avoid highly-processed fats in the form of processed seed and vegetable oils. We are instructed to avoid processed carbohydrates often enough, so why should the advice change when it comes to heavily-processed fats?!

Swerving industrially-processed, artificially manufactured and invariably inflammatory food is the true way to avoid ‘unhealthy’ fats and maintain a proper balance of omega-6 to omega-3. Crushing oil-bearing seeds and heating them to 200+ degrees has a demonstrably negative impact on the nutritional content of the end product.

Contrast this with the gentle processing method used to procure true olive oil – one which preserves the integrity of the beneficial fatty acids and antioxidants.

Conclusion

Eating plenty of omega-3 rich foods is another recommendation we would endorse: vegetarians should look to chia, flaxseed and unrefined flaxseed oil, while meat eaters should aim to consume a few portions of oily fish per week.

If needed, you can also supplement with a fish oil containing high amounts of omega-3 EPA and DHA.

The take-home: don’t view fat as the enemy. Eat natural and your body will thank you.

While we’ve got you here, you might be interested to read our article “5 Great Cooking Oils and Fats to Use on a Keto Diet.”

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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MCT Oil vs Coconut Oil – Which is Better?

MCT Oil vs Coconut Oil - Which is Better?

MCT oil and coconut oil are excellent sources of medium-chain fatty acids, which should become part of your daily nutrition intake.

But only one of these oils has fast-absorbing properties that may help boost cognitive function, improve athletic performance and increase weight loss.

MCT Oil vs Coconut Oil – there can only be one winner. But who? Read on to find out.

What is MCT Oil?

MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, a type of saturated fatty acid associated with numerous health benefits. MCTs derive their name from the length of their chemical structure.

All fatty acids are composed of hydrogen and carbon strings and are classified by how many carbon atoms they have. Medium-chain fatty acids have up to 12 carbons.

Not very long ago, saturated fats were considered the enemy. However, recent research has shown that saturated fat is not to blame for increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes or sudden death.

Rather than being demonised, some forms of saturated fat – including MCT oil – are now widely praised.

MCT saturated fats are easier to digest than long-chain triglycerides and even have benefits for heart health, brain health and obesity prevention.

Benefits of MCT Oil

Once consumed, medium-chain fatty acids are sent directly to the liver, where they have a thermogenic effect that might be responsible for increasing metabolism and inducing weight loss.

MCTs may help reduce fat loss as they are immediately burned as fuel instead of being store as fat.

MCT fats are easier to digest than long-chain fatty acids, as they have less carbon chains for the body to break down. As MCT chains are smaller, they are able to enter through cell membranes easier than longer fatty acid chains and do not require enzyme assistance to be utilised by the body.

This makes them a more readily available energy source.

There are further benefits, too. MCT oil could protect the digestive and immune systems by fighting harmful viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi. They’re also a good source of antioxidants, which are extremely useful for naturally detoxifying the body and reducing disease-causing inflammation.

Lastly, MCT oil contains essential amounts of fatty acid to increase brain function.

MCTs have been shown to have a positive impact on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. According to a 2014 study, oral supplementation with MCTs significantly improved memory by producing higher ketone levels in the blood.

The reason MCTs provide an ample source of instant energy is because they are able to quickly cross the mitochondria membrane of cells, which is the part responsible for energy production.

And unlike most fatty acids, MCTs do not require the presence of l-carnitine. This results in a production of excess acetyl-coA, which is broken down into ketones.

Ketones, as we all know, are the preferred fuel of the brain.

MCTs have been shown to have the following benefits:

  1. Lower blood sugar to reduce inflammation and improve brain function
  2. Inhibit fatty tissue production and improve carbohydrate metabolism
  3. Increase magnesium absorption
  4. Preserve lean body tissue by improving nitrogen absorption and amino acid sparing
  5. Anti-convulsive
  6. Improve athletic performance
  7. Control appetite and induce weight loss

MCT Oil vs Coconut Oil

Getting back to our main event then: MCT Oil vs Coconut Oil. Who comes out on top?

Although medium-chain fatty acids are also found in coconut oil, MCT oil is better for you overall.

Marketing companies love to claim that coconut oil contains as much as 60 percent of MCT oil, so it is a good option if you’re working with a tighter budget.

The medium-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil mostly contain lauric acid, which is another form of medium-chain fatty acid that does not act like true MCT oils in the body.

Biologically, lauric acid acts more like a long-chain fatty acid, which is harder to digest and does not provide fast-acting ketone energy production.

While MCT oils are utilised as instant energy, lauric acid is more likely to be stored as fat. Lauric acids are chemically the same as MCT but biologically, our bodies do not treat them equally.

Coconut oil contains many different types of fatty acid, but only caproic acid, caprylic acid and capric acid act like true MCTs.

While lauric acid does supply antimicrobial properties, Pure MCT is what you need if you wish to burn fat, lose weight, improve blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol and increase cognitive function.

Unlike lauric acid, which is harder to digest, MCT oil is sent directly to the liver, where it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and can immediately be utilised as brain and muscle fuel. Unlike coconut oil, it has the added benefit of producing ketones.

MCT Oil can be added to salads, smoothies and soups and is a fantastic way of getting more beneficial fatty acids into your diet.

Conclusion

The truth is, both MCT Oil and Coconut Oil should be viewed as health-promoting, particularly when it comes to weight loss and specifically brain health.

The antibacterial, antiviral and antimicrobial properties of the two have also attracted interest, leading to a spike in consumer interest.

Of course, you might be considering MCT Oil purely as a complement to the ketogenic diet.

Oh, and if you’re worried about the high saturated fat content of coconut or MCT Oil, don’t be: believe it or not, eating more fat of all kinds appears to reduce overall risk of death by 23%, stroke risk by 18% and non-heart related mortality by 30%.

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