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Keto Diet for Seniors: Is It Safe and What Are the Benefits?

A keto diet can help with many common ailments for seniors.

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If you're over 60 and have been searching for a way to get fit, you may have heard of the ketogenic diet, also known as the keto diet. Originally developed as an anti-seizure treatment in children in the 1920's, it has been rediscovered by fitness fanatics in recent years. It seems like everyone from your personal trainer at the gym to your neighbor down the street is talking about the benefits of the keto diet. But with so many sources talking about the keto diet, it is difficult to know if the information you're getting is correct and if it's actually a good choice for you.

If you want to take charge of your health and are interested in switching up your diet, keto may be the right choice for you. We've got the 411 on everything you need to know about trying out this trendy dietary choice:

What Is the Keto Diet?

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The ketogenic diet is a super low carb, high fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins and low carb diets. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. The traditional ratios are approximately 75% fat, 20% protein, and just 5% carbohydrates. This lack of carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis.

Generally, your body uses glucose from carbohydrates for energy. When you restrict carbs, your body burns stored fat for energy instead. This results in the production of ketones, a type of acid, and your body entering ketosis.

According to Dr. Jocelyn Tan, MD, FACP, a professor, oncologist, and medical researcher focused on the keto diet and cancer patients, "I think the keto diet is fine for 60 years olds," says Dr. Tan. "The problem with the keto diet is there's a bad reputation. People think fat will clog your arteries, but that's not the case with the keto diet." Dr. Tan notes that as you age, it can be more and more difficult to lose weight, and seemingly easier to gain it. A keto diet can not only help you to shed stubborn pounds, but reap other health benefits as well.

Benefits of the Keto Diet for Seniors

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If you have underlying health conditions, you should talk to your doctor or a specialist before undertaking any drastic dietary changes like the keto diet. But overall, research seems to indicate that the keto diet is not only safe, but actually beneficial to seniors. Let's look into some of the ways a keto diet can help with common conditions for seniors:

1. Diabetes and Insulin Resistance

According to the American Diabetes Association, as many as 14.3 million seniors (aged 65 and up) have diabetes, whether they are diagnosed or not. If you have diabetes, you should definitely talk to your doctor before trying a keto diet, but it might be one of the best choices for your health in the long run. So far, studies have shown that keto diets can help people improve their insulin sensitivity. According to Stephen Cunnane, a professor with the Research Centre on Aging at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, "type 2 diabetes can be controlled with a ketogenic diet". A review of studies in the International Journal of Diabetes and Clinical Research found that keto diets "should be taken into serious consideration as a possible standard therapy in the future treatment ... of diabetes."

However, Dr. Tan stresses the importance of having supervision as you make the change. "People on insulin go on the keto diet, their sugar goes down, and they inject themselves with insulin. That's when there are problems," explains Dr. Tan. "You have to have a doctor who is managing your sugar or you might experience a hypoglycemic episode (dangerously low blood glucose) during the first few days of the keto diet." But in the long run, a keto diet may be the best choice. After doing the keto diet, many diabetic patients report no longer needing their medications. "If you're diabetic, I think you should be on the diet, but with guidance," says Dr. Tan.

2. Bone Health

Osteoporosis, a condition in which reduced bone density causes bones to become fragile and brittle, is one of the most common ailments seen in senior men and women. In fact, the annual cost of osteoporosis and fractures in the US elderly was estimated at $16 billion, using a national 2002 population-based sample. Toxins in your diet can interfere with absorption of nutrients like calcium. A keto diet low in toxins and high in all micronutrients can help you build stronger bones.

3. Inflammation

Whether childhood injuries seem to hurt more or you developed arthritis as an adult, inflammation in your joints can be absolutely debilitating. If over the counter medications aren't cutting through the pain anymore, you may be searching for alternatives to help you get your life back on track. Instead of treating the symptoms associated with inflammation, don't you wish you could stop the inflammation before it starts? A keto diet can do that: being in ketosis can help reduce the production of substances called cytokines that promote inflammation, which can help with these types of conditions.

4. Cognitive Functioning

Early studies are looking into how a keto diet may impact cognitive functioning, and the results are promising. In a small study of 14 older adults with mild cognitive problems indicative of early Alzheimer's disease, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers found that a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet may improve brain function and memory.

"Most of all, if we can confirm these preliminary findings, using dietary changes to mitigate cognitive loss in early-stage dementia would be a real game-changer. It's something that 400-plus experimental drugs haven't been able to do in clinical trials," says Jason Brandt, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

How to Get Started on Your Keto Diet

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Making any dietary change can be difficult, but completely revamping how you eat is a challenge. If you want to reap all the benefits of a keto diet, but aren't sure where to start, Keto Cycle is the website for you. All you have to do is take a 60-second quiz and they'll get you geared up with a personalized plan that takes the guesswork out of your new lifestyle. Aren't you tired of spending hours online searching for dinner ideas that are keto-friendly? Are you over standing in the grocery aisle on your phone googling if a certain product is safe for you to eat? Keto Cycle is your holy grail of information. They even have vegan and vegetarian recipes!

"I've tried keto multiple times, but always failed to stick to it. So I was a bit skeptical when I found Keto Cycle. My only regret today is that I didn't get it earlier. It's a life-saver, literally! It's fully personalized, super easy to follow, and has a ton of tasty recipes." - Debbie, Massachusetts.

Click here to get started with your individualized keto plan courtesy of Keto Cycle!

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