Healthy Beginnings

Is a ketogenic diet safe?

There is much confusion among both non- health professionals and unfortunately many physicians about dietary ketosis and the ketogenic diet.

This is unfortunately based on the fact that most doctors receive little to no training in diet and nutrition during their time in medical school.

What they do get in school is training on how to deal with diabetic ketoacidosis (a potentially life threatening situation) that can occur in people with type 1 diabetes mellitus.

There is a huge difference between dietary ketosis and diabetic ketoacidosis. Doctors tend to view any level of ketosis as a warning sign of ketoacidosis and often caution patients about ketogenic dieting.

The biggest analytical study on the safety and efficacy of the classic ketogenic diet to date was recently completed at Johns Hopkins University. The lead researcher, Eric Kossoff, M.D., stated, “Our study should help put to rest some of the nagging doubts about the long-term safety of the ketogenic diet.

The effects of the ketogenic diet have been overwhelmingly positive, whether it has been to treat a brain disorder, correct a metabolic problem, or to lose unwanted weight.”

Glucose (sugar) is the primary source of energy used by all the cells in the body. We get glucose mostly from the carbohydrates in our foods. Between meals, when blood glucose levels fall, the liver starts converting fatty acids (fats) into ketones and blood ketone levels increase.

The ketogenic diet has been used in modern medicine for over
90 years. Dr. Russell Wilder at Mayo Clinic designed the diet in 1924. Despite being highly effective in treating epilepsy, it fell out of fashion due to an increase in new anti-seizure medications in the 1940s (since that is what it was originally used for).

Back then doctors often used fasting therapy to treat difficult health problems such as cancer, arthritis, gastritis and neurological problems, let alone for weight loss. Fasting is one of the quickest ways to get into “ketosis.”

The diet is high in fat, supplies adequate protein and is low in carbohydrates. This combination changes the way energy is produced and used in the body.

Fat is converted in the liver to ketone bodies and it lowers glucose (sugar) levels and improves insulin resistance.

The ketogenic diet has definitely been found to be a safe and effective way to address a number of frustrating chronic medical problems. The exciting thing is that it has been proven to be helpful at being an adjunct to both conventional and alternative therapies.

For more information, contact Reno Integrative Medical Center located at 6110 Plumas St., Ste. B, in Reno at 775-829-1009 or


  1. Fife, Dr. Bruce, The Coconut Ketogenic Diet, Piccadilly Books, Ltd., Colorado Springs, CO, 2014.