We can now say that diseases such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and chronic heart disease are a pandemic that is affecting the entire world. In all countries, the numbers of chronic diseases are on the increase, even among children. These diseases, which are caused by civilization, are called the “diseases of civilization.” Their financial burden reaches trillions of dollars annually and is putting a great strain on the health budgets of even the most powerful economies. So how can this pandemic be prevented? What can be done? And how can we protect ourselves from these diseases?

As a cardiology specialist with 25 years of experience, I realized that with proper dietary management 70-80% of these diseases can be managed. No, you have not misread the figures: 70-80%! 

In the last century, easy and affordable access to food, especially foods containing carbohydrates (wheat, sugar, and fructose-based products) has brought along huge problems. Today, we can say that widespread deaths due to famine have virtually disappeared. Unfortunately, today, people are dying due to health issues caused by excessive eating and unhealthy eating habits. 

In the 1950s, when the issue of the lipid hypothesis (or cholesterol hypothesis) was first raised, the craze of “low-fat, multigrain” diet spread all over the world. Even today, there are many who still defend this hypothesis. However, I strongly believe that instead of being a solution in combating obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases, the recommendation of a “low-fat, multigrain” diet among certain circles has contributed immensely to these diseases increasing to the level of a global pandemic. Indeed, for the last 70 years, the world’s leading scientific circles have constantly emphasized the health benefits of a low-fat, grain-based diet. And with the influence of the media, the cholesterol hypothesis was turned into a dogma and always kept on the agenda. Nobody ever highlighted the risks of carbohydrates. Scientists who attempted to explain the harm of carbohydrates were either rejected or condemned by their colleagues. They were not called to give speeches at congresses and were not included among the scientific committees that prepared nutrition guides. 

In the last decade, another view of healthy eating emerged in the world which has an increasing number of supporters. The basic premise of this diet is a very-low carbohydrate and relatively high-fat calorie intake. Founders of this view maintain that, as initially suggested, fats are not harmful, that it is uncertain whether cholesterol causes heart disease, and that the actual problem is the excessive consumption of carbohydrates. In its 2020 nutrition guide, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has started to recommend low-carb diets. I have no doubt that this will be followed by reputed cardiology associations in the very near future. 

Among all the low-carb diets, the ketogenic diet is the most appealing. In addition to a means of weight control, there is huge number of people that choose the ketogenic diet in terms of its general health benefits. Due to this, the diet has attracted interest globally. While the ketogenic diet was the most searched diet on Google in 2018, in 2019, the “ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting (IF)” were determined as the most-searched diets online. So what is IF? Dividing the 24-hour day into three parts, only eating in one part and abstaining from eating for 16 hours uninterruptedly is called “intermittent fasting.” In online search results it appears as “IF 16:8.” When the IF diet is combined with the ketogenic diet you get incredible results. So what is the ketogenic diet? How does it work?

The ketogenic diet has two basic components:

Very low carbohydrate consumption, less than 30 g a day

Sixty percent of the total daily intake of calories should come from fats

As a result of these two principles being employed together, in a short time the fats broken down in our liver, called “ketone bodies,” are released into our blood. This metabolic state is called “ketosis.” The diet that induces ketosis is called the ketogenic diet.  

I realize both from myself and my experiences with hundreds of patients that ketosis gives an unbelievable sense of fullness. Hunger disappears automatically, and you are not constantly opening the refrigerator door. In a majority of patients there is a weight loss of between 4 and 6 kg in the first month. This is followed by an average loss of 2-3 kilos a month. As this is a very low carbohydrate diet, our body’s insulin demand decreases significantly. In a short time, this eliminates insulin resistance. Then, after a while, blood pressure and sugar controls begin to improve automatically. Within months, steatosis, or the buildup of fat in the liver, begins to decrease. Although you’re eating more fats, triglyceride levels in the blood begin to fall significantly. Night sweats and waking up tired passes. You get quality sleep. You begin to stop using many of the medications you take -on the condition that this is under the supervision of a doctor. Your immune system becomes more active, and you become more resistant to illness. While everyone around you is in bed with the flu, you look around surprised. Your psychology improves immensely, and issues with concentration and focusing disappear. Your ability to solve problems becomes stronger. All these aspects are supported by hundreds of clinical studies.  

Apart from all these positive metabolic effects of the ketogenic diet, the most typical feature is that it is sustainable. All diets can make people lose weight, but a majority are both boring and tiring. So the individual continues the diet for a few months, then stops. As there is no sense of hunger with the ketogenic diet, it can be sustained for long periods. 

Can the ketogenic diet cause any harm? Those who have reservations about this diet claim it can cause harm to the body because it contains a high fat and protein intake. This is nothing but misinformation. First and foremost, no more fat is eaten in this diet than in a Western pattern diet. If you remove carbohydrates from the food list, although fats are the same in terms of weight, they increase in terms of percentage. In reality, we are consuming the same, or a little more than our standard fat consumption. The ketogenic diet does not mean “eat meat, don’t eat anything but meat.” We consume the required amount of protein. Practically, we are simply removing the carbohydrates from the standard Turkish or western habits of eating -apart from that we eat exactly wha t you eat. For example, if we eat five meatballs, a bowl of yogurt, and salad without bread, and we do not eat a sweet or fruit after dinner, what harm could this possibly cause our body?   

If you have continued to read this article to this point, that means you care about yourselves. So throughout your journey, think about this diet and when you land I recommend you to read a more extensive book on the ketogenic diet that has been written with sincerity.

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