Chronic pain: How the Keto diet can help

A ketogenic diet is a diet that’s very low in carbohydrates. Most people go on a ketogenic diet to lose weight.

Normally, your body prefers to use blood sugar, also called glucose, for energy. However, during ketosis, your body gets more of its energy from ketones, which are produced from fat. This is how a ketogenic diet results in weight loss.

But research has established other benefits of a ketogenic diet. It can help control acne and lower the risk of cancer and heart disease and has been shown to help control epileptic seizures.

A recent study has found that following a ketogenic diet could also bring relief from chronic pain.

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A ketogenic diet can reduce chronic pain

Three researchers from the School of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney ran a  trial to evaluate the effects of a ketogenic diet on pain and quality of life reported by patients with chronic pain.

They already knew that a diet that restricts or eliminates ultra-processed foods can help manage pain, and wanted to see whether a whole foods ketogenic diet could offer even greater relief.

People who live with chronic musculoskeletal pain were the subjects of this study. This is the kind of pain experienced with arthritis, fibromyalgia or tendinitis.

For the first three weeks of this 12-week trial, all subjects ate a diet that was free of ultra-processed foods.

Then, in the fourth week and beyond, subjects were randomly divided into two groups. One group continued with the initial minimally processed, whole-food diet, while the other ate a whole-food/well-formulated diet (WFKD).

At the end of the 12 weeks, all subjects were evaluated for average reported pain, quality of life and diet satisfaction, as well as depression, anxiety and quality of sleep.

While average weekly pain improved for both groups, the subjects who ate the WFKD diet showed a significantly greater reduction in pain.

But the WFKD group also showed improvements in depression and anxiety, as well as inflammation.

Both groups reported a significant reduction in pain was still reported at a three-month follow-up.

The researchers concluded that “the implementation of a whole-food diet that restricts ultra-processed foods is a valid pain management tool; however, a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet (whole food/well-formulated ketogenic diet, or WFKD) may have potentially greater pain reduction, weight loss and mood improvements.”

In other words, eliminating processed foods is a good way to control pain, but a ketogenic diet is possibly even more effective, and can also improve mood and assist in weight loss.

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Things to know before “going keto”

When you go on a ketogenic diet for weight loss, you will lose belly fat first. This visceral fat is the most dangerous kind – it sends your risk of heart disease way up.

In fact, the ketogenic diet is effective at reducing the collection of “symptoms” that make up metabolic syndrome: high blood pressure, high fasting blood sugars levels, high triglycerides. It raises your HDL (“good” cholesterol) levels, and shaves off belly fat, as mentioned.

One caution: if you have diabetes, going keto could force your body into diabetic ketoacidosis, and you’ll have to test your blood sugar often.

But diabetic or not, when starting a completely new eating plan, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning.

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Effects of a Low-Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet on Reported Pain, Blood Biomarkers and Quality of Life in Patients with Chronic Pain: A Pilot Randomized Clinical Trial — Pain Medicine

What’s a ketogenic diet? — Web MD

10 Health Benefits of Low-Carb and Ketogenic Diets — Healthline

Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.