My guest on this week’s episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy, diabetes expert Dr. Sarah Hallberg is here to change the way we treat this disease. Her number one weapon for reversing type 2 diabetes: a ketogenic diet.
You may have heard that a ketogenic diet can be beneficial for your health—that it promotes weight loss, longevity, and enhanced cognitive function—and wondered if the hype is true.
First, it’s important to recognize that ketogenic diets have been around in medicine for a long time. We use them for treating intractable epilepsy when medications fail. Yes, that’s right, when meds fail we use food. Now mounting research has found them to be effective in reversing type 2 diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, autism, and brain and other cancers, in addition to increasing lifespan, enhancing brain function, and more.
So what is a ketogenic diet anyway?
Let’s start with a little biology. The body has a backup energy storage system that it can use when faced with starvation. Ordinarily, we burn glucose (carbs) for energy, but, as a contingency plan, our bodies have the ability to burn fat as well. We have about 2,500 calories of carbohydrate (in the form of glycogen) stored in our muscles. But we each have about 40,000 calories of fat stored through our bodies (and some people have a lot more). When carbohydrates are scarce (back in our caveman and cavewoman days this was generally a result of food scarcity), fat gets mobilized as ketones, which are used as an alternative fuel source. They are a much cleaner-burning source of fuel and stimulate all sorts of good things in your body. A ketogenic diet decreases the size of your organs, increases stem cell production, reduces dangerous visceral (belly) fat, improves your gene expression, reduces cancer, increases the size of your brain’s memory center (known as the hippocampus), improves immune function, improves mitochondrial function (your energy production), enhances cognitive function, and reduces inflammation and oxidative stress. All good things that promote health and longevity.
Dr. Hallberg just published the results of a study in which 262 patients with type 2 diabetes completed a clinical trial examining the impact of a low-carb, high-fat diet (essentially a ketogenic diet). A full 94 percent of patients on the low-carb intervention were able to reduce or eliminate their need for insulin. According to Dr. Hallberg, “For six in ten patients, average blood sugar levels fell so low that technically, they had reversed their diabetes.”
On this week’s episode, Dr. Hallberg shares the results of this study and her recommendations for treating type 2 diabetes. We also talk about the cascade of events that leads to type two diabetes—carbohydrate intolerance or insulin resistance and why this matters for everyone, not just diabetic patients.
You won’t want to miss this one.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
PS – For more information about Dr. Hallberg’s work, visit virtahealth.com.