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The keto diet is a big thing these days with people across the country, including many celebrities, like Halle Berry, Kim Kardashian and Katie Couric touting its benefits.
The diet’s fame has a solid foundation since it’s been shown to have the potential to boost weight loss, improve heart health and brain function, and even reduce the risk of cancer.
And, I’ll admit…
I’m a keto fanatic myself and have been following the protocol for several years now — beginning it because of the weight loss it delivered and sticking to it because of how much more energy I feel on the plan.
But not everyone should just jump into the keto diet headfirst. And, that is especially true if you suffer from psoriasis.
The keto diet can inflame your skin
The basis of the keto diet is to drastically lower carbs (keto diet experts recommend at least under 50 grams and as low as 20 grams a day) and instead eat plenty of high-quality fats.
Now getting enough fat is very important because when the body takes in so few carbs, it’s like being in starvation mode. Keto dieters can begin to feel weak and rundown. So, in order to consume enough fat, many people use dietary products that are enriched with healthy fats, like coconut oil (which is high in medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs) or fish oil ( which is high in omega-3 fatty acids) allowing them to more easily get the fats they need.
Previous studies have looked into the effect that carbs and fats have on skin inflammation. In fact, previous that have shown that high-carb/high-fat diets actually promote the progression of psoriasis-like skin inflammation and the development of spontaneous dermatitis in mice.
So, researchers from Paracelsus Medical University, in Salzburg, Austria wanted to investigate if the keto diet would have the opposite effect and help control psoriasis since it drastically cuts carbs.
To find out, they put mice on an extremely high-fat (77 percent) ketogenic diet — and what they found was interesting, to say the least…
According to one of the head researchers, Roland Lang, PhD, of the Department of Dermatology, Paracelsus Medical University, Salzburg, Austria, “Ketogenic diets supplemented with MCTs not only induce the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, but also lead to an accumulation of neutrophils in the skin resulting in a worse clinical appearance of the skin of the mice.”
And the results were even worse in the mice that consumed high amounts of MCTs in combination with omega-3 fatty acids.
Does that mean keto is a “no-go” if you have psoriasis?
There is good news if you are one of the eight million Americans living with psoriasis, and you want to leverage the benefits of the keto diet without exacerbating your condition…
The researchers say that there is a way to do keto that the study showed did not worsen skin inflammation: The key is to avoid fattening up your diet with MCTs and instead choose fats that contain long-chain triglycerides.
“We found that a well-balanced ketogenic diet, limited primarily to long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) like olive oil, soybean oil, fish, nuts, avocado, and meats, does not exacerbate skin inflammation,” said Barbara Kofler, Ph.D., the study’s co-lead investigator.
Not a bad trade-off, considering the healthy reputation of the foods on that list of LCTs. Just think Mediterranean diet, and you’ve heard great things about olive oil, fish, nuts, and avocado, right?
So, if you’re living with psoriasis and really want to try to achieve what so many rave about with the keto diet, go ahead and embrace it — but with care… skip the MCTs and go for LCTs instead.
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- 12 Celebrities Who Can’t Get Enough of the Ketogenic Diet — Everyday Health
- Why is the keto diet good for you? — Medical News Today
- How do ketogenic diets affect skin inflammation? — EurekAlert!
- Statistics — National Psoriasis Foundation