A recent review study has asserted that ketogenic (keto) diets, renowned for being low in carbohydrates and high in fats, might pose substantial health risks, outweighing the potential benefits for most people.
The study suggested that such diets could be particularly harmful to pregnant women and patients with kidney disease, and could raise the risks of various chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The study, conducted by Lee Crosby and team and published in Frontiers in Nutrition, explored the effects of keto diets that primarily aim to induce ketosis, allowing the body to use fats as an energy source instead of carbohydrates.
The researchers extensively reviewed the potential long-term health impacts of such diets.
The findings of the review were highly critical of keto diets, labelling them as “disease-promoting disasters”.
The researchers highlighted the risks of consuming large amounts of red meat, processed meat, and saturated fat while restricting the intake of carbohydrate-rich vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.
For pregnant women or those who may become pregnant, keto diets were linked to a heightened risk of neural tube defects in babies, even with folic acid supplementation.
For patients with kidney disease, higher-protein keto diets could accelerate kidney failure.
The review also raised concerns over an increase in “bad cholesterol” levels and potential escalation in overall chronic disease risk due to keto diets.
While short-term weight loss was acknowledged as a possible benefit, the researchers emphasized that keto is not more effective than other weight-loss diets in the long run.
The only well-substantiated use of this diet, as per the study, was its ability to reduce seizure frequency in some individuals with drug-resistant epilepsy.
The study concluded that the typical keto diet, often marketed as a cure-all solution, is likely not safe in the long term and might elevate the risks of several severe health conditions, particularly for pregnant women and individuals with kidney disease.
The researchers advocate for a balanced and informed perspective on such diets, underscoring the need to consider the potential health repercussions.
The recognized benefits of the diet, such as weight loss and reduced seizure frequency in specific epilepsy cases, are overshadowed by the substantial risks and lack of efficacy over other diet approaches in the long-term.
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