My professional passion: the components of good health
I have worked in the field of integrative health for over 25 years. I studied medical biology and I am also a certified naturopath; I practice naturopathy in Drummondville and I operate as the editor-in-chief of Vitalité Québec magazine.
I am also president of the l’Association des naturopathes agréés du Québec (ANAQ) and have given several courses and conferences across Canada. Education on the essential components of good health has always been a priority for me and will always remain my passion.
Keto: a diet that is gaining popularity
The popularity of the Ketogenic or Keto diet is constantly on the rise in Canada. So much so that we are witnessing the arrival of specialized shops and new products to meet the needs of people who wish to adopt this diet.
In this context, it therefore becomes important to better understand the foundations of this type of diet, its true roots and the reasons why it is good to favor organic foods as part of such a diet.
The Keto diet, what is it exactly?
Ketogenic, or Keto in popular parlance, is a type of diet that promotes a significant reduction in foods rich in carbohydrates (sugars) and an increase in lipids (fats), in order to induce a state of nutritional ketosis.
Contrary to what one might think at first glance, it is a balanced diet, which uses all the food categories that are recognized as being low in carbohydrates. This diet therefore features several vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, avocado, lettuce, spinach, asparagus and others. Several types of seeds and nuts, as well as small fruits, such as raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries are also advantageously considered.
Foods of animal origin, such as meat, fish, eggs and seafood, can also occupy a central place in this type of diet, which includes, if desired, dairy products, such as butter, yogurt and cheese. Vegetable oils such as olive, coconut or organic seed oils that have been cold pressed without further intervention, are also a good source of fat for this type of diet.
We are therefore not only talking about reducing or eliminating sweets, soft drinks or desserts, but also foods that are naturally rich in carbohydrates, such as grains (bread, pasta and rice), legumes, large very sweet fruits and certain vegetables with a high carbohydrate content, such as potatoes and carrots.
People who choose the keto diet must compensate for the calorie deficit generated by the reduction in carbohydrates by an increase in lipids or fats in their diet.
A diet inspired by our hunter-gatherer ancestors
In order to better understand the origins and foundations of the Keto or simply low carbohydrate diet, we must go back to the origins of the hunter-gatherer diet.
Here, a little history would be necessary. The human species is three million years old, and Homo sapiens, the species of which we are a part of, would be around 300,000 years old.i
Human food was then based on hunting, fishing and gathering, three activities that consisted of taking resources directly from nature. When they lacked food, our ancestors had to draw on their body reserves in order to produce the energy necessary to continue hunting. In their case, it was often a question of survival!
I therefore hypothesize that their diet was certainly adapted to their metabolism, since, even if it varied slightly from one place to another on the planet, this was the case for humans for more than 98% of our history.
Furthermore, humans began to grow food and raise animals around 10,000 years ago.ii During this period, they gradually adapted to eating grains, legumes and other cultivated foods and even allowed themselves to create new, larger, prettier and sweeter cultivars in order to meet their energy needs.
We can therefore say that the evolution of the hunter-gatherer’s diet towards a diet composed of products from agriculture and livestock has occurred over many years, which gave way to a slow and respectful adaptation.
Unfortunately, we do not have in-depth studies on these populations, but we do know that today’s chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer, allergies, osteoporosis, arthritis and the like were virtually non-existent.
Why then, with a meteoric evolution in medicine, are we today struggling with so many metabolic health problems, if not because our diet has been completely changed?
The biggest problem seems to have appeared in the period of the last 100 years, with food industrialization which aimed to increase food preservation. Extreme processing, genetic modifications, addition of preservatives, flavors, colors, vitamins to compensate for those lost through processing, changes in texture and others are phenomena that have increased over the past 70 years and could play a determining role in these types of diseases.
A diet from the past adapted to modern times
The keto/ketogenic diet is probably the closest possible way of eating as our distant hunter-gatherer ancestors did.
If returning to this type of diet is not necessarily possible today, we can however adopt a diet that is based on the same principles.
The reluctance of many people towards the ketogenic diet stems mainly from the fact that we have been told for several years that fat clogs the arteries and that we must therefore reduce saturated fats in our diet. However, to date, there is no study that, taking into account confounding factors (smoking, exercise, education and other processed foods) has managed to confirm this hypothesis.iii
Although we have reduced our consumption of saturated fats everywhere on the planet, since these recommendations, which date from the 1960s and 1970s, we have not observed a reduction in cardiovascular diseases among the population.
In fact, these diseases have increased in industrialized countries. That is, if you ask someone to reduce their lipid (fat) intake in their diet, in order to be able to consume the number of calories necessary for their basic needs, they must increase their protein or carbohydrate intake.
What has happened over the past 70 years is that most people consume over 300 grams of net carbs per day in industrialized countries, which is about 60% of their daily caloric intake. In addition, a large proportion of these carbohydrates are added in the form of refined sugars.
It is the excess carbohydrates that are stored as fat in the liver and in our fat cells and it is these same carbohydrates that are largely responsible for the modern diseases of obesity, diabetes, fatty liver and others.
The ideal would probably be to consume less than 100 grams of carbohydrates per day for healthy individuals and even less for those who have metabolic issues, which is a majority of North Americans.
Other suggested readings:
- A Danger Is Hidden Behind the Ketogenic Diet…?
- Three Days With the Ketogenic Diet…
- Ketogenic Diet: Changes in Just 3 Months!