Ketogenic diets are great for losing weight and for increasing insulin resistance for diabetes patients. But what are the long-term effects when it comes to following a diet that is high in fat, low in carb? What is the effect that it has on gut bacteria? Are there any health implications of sticking to such a diet?
Laying The Foundation
The gut is nothing but the gastrointestinal tract that goes from our mouth to the anus. The stomach is where very few of the microbes reside, due to the high acidity. The upper portion of the small intestine is where there are high concentrations of bile and other digestive juices. The large intestine is the warehouse for microorganisms. It is moist, warm and filled with nutritional food- the ideal environment for microorganism growth.
The gut flora has close to a 100 trillion strong army of healthy microbes that are collectively called the microbiota. What is fed to them goes a long way in deciding what the effect is on the body.
Diets That Have High Fats
It is has been found time and again, that diets that contain a lot of fat end up reducing the colon bacteria population. At the same time, these diets increase anaerobic microflora. The bacterioid count also increases, and it is found that they are beneficial organisms, but when in large numbers it can be associated with severe antibiotic-resistant infections, inflammatory bowel diseases and colorectal cancer.
The ketogenic diet is one where there is a high percentage of fat and low concentration of carbohydrates, with low to moderate levels of protein. It is found in studies that certain groups of bacteria that have been known to produce hydrogen sulfide-a gas that causes bloating and gut inflammation- increases in number.
Having a high-fat diet can increase the permeability of our intestine. This can lead to a leaky gut. A leaky gut is especially dangerous as one wouldn’t want the undigested proteins and bacterial toxins to get into the bloodstream.
The best course of action to avoid these would be to stick to a plant-based diet. These are rich in nutrients, carbs and proteins. You can load up on healthy essential fatty acids such as omega-3s and 6s by means of plant-based foods such as nuts and avocado. Drop the fat and go healthy, plant-based style!