The Gut Health Benefits of the Keto Diet and Why I’m Doing It

The Gut Health Benefits of the Keto Diet and Why I’m Doing It

 

GUT HEALTH BENEFITS OF THE KETO DIET

 

If you’ve been following me online for any amount of time, you know I have a (healthy) obsession with food. The paleo diet was the first real diet I ever tried, and it was my first attempt at getting my ulcerative colitis and acid reflux issues under control. And if you know my story, you know it worked. We’re talking within two weeks, ALL of my terrible symptoms were hardly there anymore, and within six months, I was able to wean myself off of all the medications I was on because I felt my body was strong enough to fight this disease on its own.

 

The thing about diets, though, is they’re not one-size-fits-all. And they can quickly cause fatigue if you’re not creative enough with it. Additionally, our bodies are constantly changing, and we need to adapt to those changes by feeding it the right foods.

 

Throughout the years, I’ve stayed mostly on the paleo diet, but began working in more vegan meals, avoided most nightshades and high FODMAP foods, and made other tweaks along the way. I’ve also done a lot of research around metabolic typing, or our body’s preference for fuel, whether that be protein, fat or carbs.

 

It was my studies in metabolic typing that really began my curiosity into the keto diet.

 

There are many ways to determine your metabolic type, from tests you can pay for to simply listening to and journaling about your body’s response to different fuel sources. I started to notice that I wasn’t as satisfied or full from proteins as I thought I would be. Afterall, we grow up to believe protein is the most filling part of our diets, right? And I saw my blood sugar levels quickly get out of whack and sugar cravings come on when I had more carbs in my diet. And I have to avoid sugar and most carbs anyways because of my history with candida and SIBO.

 

These were all pretty clear signs that proteins and carbs may not be the best main source of fuel for me. (Note: they may be for you, so please listen to your own body before you make a big change like going keto).

 

Fat, however, was something I craved and did really well with. I couldn’t wait to have an avocado as a snack or to cook with coconut oil or add nitrite-free bacon to a salad. This lingering desire for more fat convinced me to finally try the keto diet.

 

I also don’t get nearly as many digestive issues when I eat fats. Carbs often cause bloating, gas, and pain for me, and proteins leave me feeling “heavy” and often constipate me. For awhile, I actually dreaded eating them because the aftermath was no fun for me.

 

So, for the next 30 days, I will be going all-in on the ketogenic diet.

 

What is the Keto Diet?

In its simplest form, the keto diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet. Fat becomes the main macronutrient in your diet (between 65-80% of your food intake), with reduced protein levels and even smaller carbohydrate levels. Following this diet, your body naturally switches into a state of nutritional ketosis, where it goes from burning glucose as energy to burning fat as energy. The end goal is for your body to become a fat-burning machine, with ketone bodies derived from fatty acids as your fuel. When you burn fat, you can lose weight, which is one big perk of keto, but there are many more benefits of it, too. For the sake of this post, I’m focusing mostly on the digestive benefits.

 

Why Keto is Great for Gut Health

A digestive health specialist, everything I do, research, and write about is in relation to gut health. Not only did I want to try keto to see how my own body would respond to its preferred source of fuel, but for the many gut health benefits it offers as well.

 

Especially for those of us with compromised digestive function, it’s crucial to avoid certain foods and load up on others, which is where a diet like keto can be really helpful and healing.

 

The keto diet…

 

  • Removes highly inflammatory foods from your diet: Gluten, soy, sugar, simple carbs, and “bad” oils like canola oil in favor of good ones like coconut and avocado oils.
  • Gives you plentiful healthy fats that help transport food through your GI tract, and keep your digestion working as it should. Think of it as a “slippery” substance that moves food through your system. Fat also helps the gallbladder produce bile, which we need for elimination and proper digestion.
  • Regulates blood sugar. When we’re in ketosis, blood sugar levels are regulated so that we no longer have to constantly adjust for fluctuating levels by eating every three to four hours. This means less strain on the digestive system as well as potential weight loss.
  • Provides mental clarity. I talk about the mind-gut connection here often, and when one part of the body (brain or gut) is “off”, the other can get out of whack, too. Ketones are a fantastic source of fuel for the brain, which can improve mood, concentration, focus, and alertness. Happy brain, happier gut!
  • Gives your body a reset. If you’re like me, following one diet protocol for years on end can get boring, no matter how many recipes you try. And especially if you feel like carbs and proteins may not be your body’s main fuel source, going keto can be a great way to give your body what it’s been asking for. This alone can go a long way towards resetting metabolism and healing the body.

 

 

The main gut health superfoods included in keto are:

  • Proteins: Collagen or gelatin, liver, beef, lamb, salmon, oysters, shellfish, turkey, chicken thighs
  • Vegetables: kale, spinach, cucumbers, bok choy, fennel, lettuce, zucchini
  • Spices: basil, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric
  • Fats: tallow, lard, duck fat, coconut oil, avocado oil, avocado, egg yolk
  • Carb-ups: Cassava, sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash

 

Here’s a sample of what I’ve been making so far on the keto diet:

Put simply, it’s delicious!

 

I’m excited to see how my body begins to transform and continues to heal while on this diet. So much so that I will be sharing week-by-week how it’s going so you can follow along and decide if going keto is right for you, too. Be sure to also follow me on Instagram during this journey  as well since I will be mosting many recipes, tips, and more on a daily basis.

 

Read my Week 1 journey and recap here. 

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