A vast majority of people who you hear talk about the “keto diet” are using it to lose weight. It is believed that a diet high in fats and low in carbs will put your body into “Ketosis,” meaning that it will feed on fats to create energy rather than feeding on carbohydrates like those found in bread and fruits.
Aside from the weight loss potential that can come with the keto diet, many articles recently have noted the potential for this kind of metabolic shift to reduce inflammation. Inflammation, as we’re sure you know, is one of the main causes of pain, both chronic and acute. Reduction in inflammation naturally sounds great, doesn’t it?! Well, research is beginning to show that this is achievable in many cases through diet alone.
What is ketosis?
Ketosis is a metabolic state where the body feeds on fats for energy rather than the standard sugars found in carbohydrate-heavy foods. This will allow you to burn the fat more quickly as well as take advantage of the various health benefits that come with it.
How ketosis reduces inflammation
When your body is in ketosis, it is using fats for energy instead of sugars. Sugar happens to be inflammatory. Your pain doctor may have told you to cut it out if your pain is caused mainly by inflammation. Excess sugars in the body can cause:
- High amounts of insulin to be produced
- Increased inflammation
- Production of free radicals. These molecules inflame linings of the blood vessels and stimulate the body’s immune system to respond.
- Chronic diseases that can cause chronic pain
The relationship between inflammation and chronic pain
Behind much of the pain, we feel on a daily basis is inflammation. Nerve damage, diabetes, and arthritis are all causes for a high amount of inflammation that can cause extreme pain.
Chronic inflammation can arise from many different factors. Sedentary lifestyle, stress, and toxins like those found in tobacco smoke can all lead to chronic pain and inflammation as time goes on. If you have a family predisposition to these issues, it can happen that much more quickly. What you choose to put into your body in the form of foods has a drastic effect on your inflammation levels.
Many people in pain who are suffering from inflammation are looking for alternative approaches. The highly addictive opioid pills don’t appeal to many. They can cause serious side effects and become addictive very easily.
Being in ketosis helps reduce inflammation, but it can also help you ease pain related to:
- Decreased nervous system activity. The nervous system is responsible for pain perception by the brain, which can be relieved with a healthier nervous system.
- Increased adenosine levels. This chemical fights inflammation and can act as a pain reliever, as well.
Beta-hydroxybutyrate and Inflammation
The body being in ketosis cause three specific ketone bodies to be released. Of the three ketones, the most important (and the one which allows us to monitor ketosis levels) is beta-hydroxybutyrate.
Research shows that beta-hydroxybutyrate blocks immune system receptors linked to inflammation.
Could it all really be so simple? Could dieting lead us down the road to relief from pain? Studies are starting to show that it can more often than not. There are still discoveries to be made, but science and nutrition are working hand in hand, moving in the right direction. This is only a scratch on the surface.
As these findings continue to come out related to pain and the way it can be treated, we will be sure to keep you updated!
As always, if you are in need of pain doctors in Atlanta or any of the surrounding areas, you can get in touch with us at Comprehensive Spine & Pain. Dr. Puppala and the staff here would love to help you in any way we can, whether that be an explanation or a procedure. Get in touch anytime.