What is a ketogenic diet and is it good for you?

keto blog

In recent years I have heard more and more people talking about a ketogenic diet, and more and more patients are asking if this is the right diet for them.

You know, of course, that I will not give you an unequivocal answer here, because each of us is different. But I will explain what a ketogenic diet means and when it is more or less appropriate.

Let’s start at the beginning.

When should I take supplements? How long? How do I know if the supplement is working?

In my first meeting with new patients, I always ask for a list of all the supplements they are taking. I am often surprised by the length of these lists …

Seriously, a few months ago I met a patient who was taking more than 20 different supplements – all purchased at health food stores, without any professional advice.

We are all familiar with a situation where something is wrong with us, and we hear a recommendation from friends, or read a recommendation on a website for a supplement, and think to ourselves – what do we have to lose?

Today there are a lot of supplements whose action is so familiar that no one thinks twice about them, like vitamin C in the winter, or probiotics combined with antibiotics. There are indeed situations where it is not a problem to take a dietary supplement by yourself, but this is not always the case. So how do you know when you should seek professional advice before taking supplements?

Let’s try to make some order.

First of all – what are nutritional supplements?

Nutritional supplements are products that contain vitamins, minerals, amino acids, plant components, or other nutrients, manufactured in factories, and their purpose is to provide essential elements that we do not get enough of in our diet.

When do we need them?

Those of you who are my patients have surely heard me say more than once: Nutritional supplements are like crutches. If you break your leg, using crutches will undoubtedly help you – taking the weight off the leg so it can heal effectively. But once the leg has recovered – there is no point in continuing to limp along on crutches!

There are situations in life when, for one reason or another, we have an increased need for a particular element, or we are unable to consume it in sufficient quantities. When this happens, taking a dietary supplement is definitely a simple and convenient “crutch” – as long as we do not forget that the goal is to return to a balanced state in which we do not need the supplement forever.

Taking supplements wisely

When considering whether there is a benefit to a particular supplement, I always think about a few things:

  1. What is the patient’s state of health – are there any background diseases or things that are worth knowing about? Background diseases can affect our need for various supplements. Smokers, for example, will need a lot of vitamin C and can sometimes benefit from a dietary supplement. Apart from that, there are many herbs and supplements that may affect health conditions. For example, rosemary can raise blood pressure and is not suitable for those suffering from such a tendency, and echinacea is not suitable for people suffering from autoimmune diseases.
  2. Are you taking any medication? This also includes over-the-counter medications! There are often reciprocal reactions between dietary supplements and herbs, and medications. There are supplements that can increase the activity of certain medications, or supplements that may reduce the effectiveness of certain medications, not to mention that in extreme cases there is a risk of poisoning.
  3. When the supplements are taken can have an impact in cases where several supplements are being taken, if they are combined with medications, or simply in order to ensure effective absorption of the supplement. Sometimes you will be asked to separate taking certain supplements from each other, or to separate taking supplements from taking medications. There are also cases where we know that certain supplements are more effective when taken with food, or with a particular type of food – for example, when taking iron you will be advised to avoid consuming dairy products near the time you take the supplement, as they may delay its absorption.
  4. Situations in which the supplement has different derivatives or parts – often different supplements have different derivatives of the same substance, or are simply different types. Omega 3, for example, can be animal or plant derived, and can contain different ratios of DHA and EPA fatty acids, and accordingly should be adapted in different situations for different people. Many nutritional supplements have derivatives that are absorbed differently. In medicinal herb supplements, different parts of the plant often have a different effect. For example, nettle leaves are used, among other things, to relieve allergic symptoms, while the root is suitable for prostate problems.
  5. Dosage – I always try to start with the lowest effective dose, both to give the body time to adjust and avoid side effects, and also because many times the supplement packaging recommends a higher dose than is really necessary (similar to the instructions on the shampoo bottle to wash twice), while in many cases when the most appropriate supplement is given, a positive effect can be seen even with a low dose. In any event, when I talk about dosage what I mean is that it is very important to take care not to exceed the recommended daily dose.

Another thing that is important is to pay attention to the effect of the supplements – positive or negative.

It is true that we cannot always know, and most of us will not notice any immediate effect when taking a supplement. I do not know anyone who has noticed the effect of taking vitamin C, for example, unless they are taking a dose high enough to suffer from side-effects (over 2 grams per day). What I really mean by paying attention to the effect of the supplement is that we want to know if the supplement is helping, or not. If you have started taking a supplement and you feel unwell, stop taking it and ask your therapist immediately whether the side-effect you are suffering from is known and will go away on its own, or whether maybe it is not a suitable supplement for you.

In the end, I always think it is best to consult a therapist you trust, who will tailor the most appropriate supplement for you personally!

Unfortunately, often the people who provide us with information about supplements – those who work in health food shops, for example – may not have been properly trained, and do not necessarily have the knowledge to give you the most accurate answers. If you are undecided about a dietary supplement, avoid asking Google – because even with its infinite wisdom, it does not know everything about your state of health.

If you have any questions, I am always happy to help, just pop a comment below or schedule a clarity call with me!

Maya x

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