“The Keto diet has gained significant popularity in recent years. The ketogenic diet is based around increasing healthy fats and reducing carbohydrate intake to put the body into a state of ‘ketosis’ where it is using fat stores for fuel rather than carbs. There are many benefits for the body being in ketosis such as reducing inflammation, balancing blood sugar levels, aiding weight loss, boosting energy levels and has even been shown to be helpful in supporting the healing of brain injuries.
However, like any diet, one size does not fit all. Perhaps you have had a friend that tried the keto diet and absolutely loved it, and you gave it a shot and didn’t feel so crash hot? This isn’t an uncommon story, and the same story can apply to any diet out there. What works for someone else may not necessarily work for you as everyone’s body is different and requires different balances of food and nutrients to be nourished and thrive.
In Chinese medicine as a general rule, we recommend eating seasonally to help support your body throughout the whole year as our bodies need fluctuate and change throughout the seasons. Your meals in the peak of summer likely look very different to your meals in the dead of winter, your lifestyle is likely different during these seasons also and so your diet needs to reflect and support this.
When it comes to food, there can be so much information out there it can be hard to know what direction to go in or what ideas you should incorporate into your life. As a Chinese medicine practitioner, I like to encourage my patients to ignore what the latest food fad is or whatever mold you think you need to fit into and instead choose your food as if it were medicine (spoiler alert: it is). This means checking in with your health, seeing what is doing well and what areas need some support and making decisions about food that help to support your body into balance. For example, if you are typically a very ‘cold’ person that always has cold hands and feet and has frequent loose stools, step away from the cold salads and acai bowls and dive straight into some warm and nourishing broths and soups. We want to use our food as a way to balance our underlying patterns.
So when it comes to the Keto diet, we want to make sure it is actually a viable option for our body type at this specific time in our life. As a general rule, I don’t recommend the keto diet long term with no breaks for women in their reproductive years as women require ample carbohydrates to help maintain hormonal balance. However, some women find success cycling in and out of the keto diet and find a balance that works right for them.
The keto diet emphasises high intake of fats, ideally healthy fats and proteins such as grass-fed butter, ghee, coconut oil, avocado oil, grass-fed meat, pastured eggs, and wild-caught fish and lots of low carb vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, celery, asparagus, and spinach to name a few. Whilst these are all healthy choices, the amounts of fats someone needs to consume (and the low amount of carbs) to get into ketosis can be a lot for someone that has a weak digestive system.
In Chinese medicine, fats tend to be damp forming in large quantities if the digestive fire is weak and there can be difficulty processing all the oils that come from these fats. Whereas someone with a strong and robust digestive system may do quite well for a period of time. In Chinese medicine, we always aim to replicate nature. Very little foods are traditionally available all year round and we do well when our eating patterns reflect this cyclical change.”
Yours in wellness,
Traditional Chinese Restoratives