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The Ketogenic Diet and Its Physiological Effects on the Human Body

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

Story at-a-glance -

  • Insulin is key to health and disease prevention, and controlling your carbohydrate intake is the most effective way to control your insulin level and optimize your insulin sensitivity
  • An estimated 80 percent of Americans are insulin resistant, even though their glucose levels are normal, and thus undiagnosed, placing them at increased risk for chronic disease
  • A low-carb ketogenic diet addresses the endocrine aspect of metabolic health, effectively driving your insulin level down, and as your insulin decreases, your metabolic rate increases
  • The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway controls autophagy and plays an important role in aging and cancer. While protein primarily activates mTOR, and therefore needs to be restricted to just what your body needs, insulin, which is increased by sugar and refined carbohydrates, activates mTOR to a far greater degree than protein
  • Aside from a ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting — where you do not eat for 16 to 18 hours a day; 12 hours being the absolute minimum — is another effective way to regain your insulin sensitivity and control mTOR

In this interview, Benjamin Bikman, Ph.D., an obesity and diabetes scientist and associate professor of physiology and developmental biology at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah, reveals how the ketogenic diet affects your physiology and supports optimal health.

“My main interest early on was looking at how the body adapts to obesity,” he says. “That was my master’s thesis. My master’s degree was exercise science here at BYU … I ended up pursuing a Ph.D. in bioenergetics at East Carolina University, under this wonderful scientist named Lynis Dohm, Ph.D.

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