The ketogenic diet, also known as keto diet, is a low-carb diet, in which you force your liver to produce ketones to provide energy to the body; in this way, you become a fat-burning machine (ketosis).

The idea of reducing carbohydrates is not necessarily new, other famous diets have resorted to this principle; the most popular is the Atkins diet, but there are also the Dukan diet and the Scardale diet, among others.

Currently, this modality of low-carb diet has resurfaced.  Its principle is the formation of ketone bodies (ketosis), hence its name. Ketosis is a metabolic situation that occurs when the body consumes too few carbohydrates and is forced to produce ketones or ketones bodies; these act as glucose substitutes giving the body the energy necessary to survive.


How does the ketogenic diet work?


The ketogenic diet focuses on an abundant intake of healthy high-fat foods such as coconut oil, olive oil and avocado, a moderate consumption of proteins such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and limiting carbohydrates to 2% or 5% of total consumer calories. That is, cereals, sugars, even some vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and also some fruits are limited in this nutrition system.


Contributions of the ketogenic diet


This type of feeding will give you great benefits; although it is quite restrictive and for some people it is difficult to follow, for example:

  • It helps you control the presence of free radicals in your body.
  • It reduces your lipid profile, that is, raise good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL).
  • It reduces stress.
  • It also helps you lower triglycerides.
  • It reduces inflammations.
  • It is highly recommended for people with type 2 diabetes and for those with insulin and leptin resistance.
  • You will not lose muscle mass.


What happens with those who have high blood pressure?


Regarding the use of the ketogenic diet in people who have high blood pressure, there is a great deal of controversy due to its possible effect on cardiovascular risk, even though there are many publications that show short and long-term benefits of this diet.

Low-carb diets such as the ketogenic diet improve the lipid profile by increasing HDL cholesterol and reducing triglycerides levels.

When the ketogenic diet is mainly based on fat (75%) there is a reduction in triglycerides levels and an increase in HDL; although, some studies show an increase in LDL.

This increase in LDL cholesterol in some people who follow this diet should be analyzed, since apparently it causes a decrease in small particles and an increase in the large ones.

LDL-particles are associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction; then, it means that the lipid profile continues to improve over time.


What is hypertension?


Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a chronic disease that consists in the increase of blood pressure; it symptoms are not clear and may take time to manifest. If it is not treated properly, it can cause a myocardial infarction, cerebral venous thrombosis, eye and kidney damage, and even death; however, it can be treated.

Arteries harden due to high blood pressure. They become thicker, making it difficult for blood to flow through them. This is known as arteriosclerosis.


What are the causes of high blood pressure?


The truth is that the specific causes of high blood pressure are still unknown; however, specialists have established a series of factors that are common in most people who have it.

Some causes cannot be modified, such as genetic inheritance (hypertensive parents or siblings), sex (men are more likely) and age (more frequent in adults).

On the other hand, other factors can be changed by varying the habits, the environment and the customs of the people. For example, obesity, salt sensitive, excessive alcohol consumption, the use of oral contraceptive and a sedentary lifestyle.

There are many people who have had high blood pressure for years without knowing it. Therefore, the only way to detect hypertension is by measuring it.

There are two measures: systolic blood pressure or SBP (maximum number) and diastolic blood pressure or DBP (minimum number). The patient is considered to have high blood pressure or hypertension when the maximum measurement is greater than or equal to 140 and the minimum is 90.


Can hypertension be cured?


No, this disease has no cure; however, it is totally controllable through a treatment with lifetime drugs, which lower blood pressure and keep it stable. But medication is only a part; patients are encouraged to make changes in their daily lives, such as eating healthy to lose weight, reduce salt intake, avoid alcohol consumption and increase physical activity.


Some recommendations


If you are already part of the statistic and you have high blood pressure, here are some recommendations for you:

  • You must reduce your body weight, in case of being overweight.
  • Your salt intake should not be more than 6 grams per day.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption. Women should consume less than 140 grams per week, and men less than 210 grams.
  • Increase your physical activity. Walk, ride a bike, run moderately or practice swimming. These exercises should have a constant duration of 30 to 45 minutes, at least 3 times a week.
  • Reduce coffee consumption.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Follow a healthy food program rich in unsaturated fats (blue fish, olive oil) and low in saturated fats (French fries, pastry products and beef fat).

Ketogenic diet and high blood pressure


Different articles in specialized journals show how a low-carb diet like the ketogenic diet is effective for the recovery of insulin sensitivity.

This reduction in insulin levels is related to a decrease or improvement in blood pressure, since high levels of this hormone are the main cause of hypertension, especially if it is associated with obesity.

Another benefit of the ketogenic diet at the cardiovascular level is the improvement of the endogenous antioxidant capacity of the cells.

Apparently, according to some studies, ketone bodies increase the activity of the glutathione peroxidase enzyme, one of the enzymes with greater antioxidant capacity of mitochondria.

This is especially interesting, not only for the prevention of hypertension, but also for the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases.


Following a ketogenic diet…


If you have high blood pressure and you are following or want to start a ketogenic diet plan, you should bear in mind that by lowering your blood pressure, as a result of the diet, you should consult a doctor to readjust the medication. You will also have a reduction in triglycerides because the consumption of carbohydrates is closely linked to these; that is, you will need fewer medications or you will not need them.

Keep in mind that the results are not the same for everyone, some people will notice the positive changes in days, and others may take months instead.

Likewise, the cholesterol that is produced by the excess of glucose in the diet will decrease when eating fewer foods that produce sugar; consequently, the pressure and inflammation of your arteries is reduced. Your body has less glucose to make cholesterol.

You will also feel less hungry due to the large amount of fats and proteins that are consumed in the keto diet.

A low-carb diet increases HDL (good cholesterol), which is responsible for transporting the cholesterol that is in your body to the liver to be eliminated. On the other hand, LDL (bad cholesterol) transports cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body, causing diseases.

High levels of HDL above 39 mg/dL are indications of a healthy body; you will have less chance of having a cardiovascular disease.

It is also important to highlight the power of the ketogenic diet to fight cancer, since the cancer cells feed on glucose and by not having this supply they die of hungry.

The first days or weeks are an adaptation period. While your body gets into ketosis, it is possible that you feel sick. These symptoms are known as keto-flu; you will feel headache, dizziness and fatigue.

The recommendation to relieve these symptoms is to stay hydrated and consume a little more salt; however, if you have high blood pressure, it is not recommended that you increase your sodium intake. It is not necessary to take risks.

Side effects will end when you are in ketosis.