The History of Keto: Why This Ancient Diet Has Stood the Test of Time

Thursday, April 11, 2019 • American Fork, UT 84003


While the Keto diet has become synonymous with bloggers and celebrities on Instagram, many people are surprised to discover that the Ketogenic diet is one of the most ancient diets out there. We can actually credit the Ancient Greeks for the basic origins of the diet. Not only did the wisdom of the Ancient Greeks give way to monumental contributions in philosophy, literature, and astronomy, it also set the precedent for fasting and dieting in the first place. Exploring the effects of restrictive dieting, the Ancient Greeks discovered that one could treat a wide range of health problems, including epilepsy by simply altering the food he or she consumed. Fasting became the foundation for human health and it’s not just a (Greek) myth.


Later in the 1920s, physicians introduced the ketogenic diet as a treatment for epilepsy. For two decades, the Keto diet was widely used to reduce the number of seizures as well as the severity of seizures in children. That is until an antiepileptic drug treatment emerged and procurement of the keto diet saw a rapid decline over time.


Practicing Health Care Rather Than Sick Care


Despite new innovations in modern medicine, we have returned to the Ketogenic diet as a popular lifestyle choice today. Perhaps, this is because diets such as the Keto diet fulfill a need that modern medicine simply cannot. For board-certified physician of internal medicine, Dr. John Limansky MD, that need is proactive healthcare.


“My goal is to revolutionize health care by going back to the basic building blocks which constitute health,” he says. “By taking simple steps such as modifying diet, exercising, incorporating stress reduction, improving sleep and focusing on meditation among other techniques, many of the diseases afflicting our society may be reversed. My ultimate goal is to practice health care instead of sick care.”


As a practicing physician, Dr. John does not discredit the possibilities of modern medicine. Rather, he brings a constructive eye to the world of modern health. In a day and age when individuals reach for the medicine cabinet before they consider the food that they put into their bodies, it looks like healthcare is following the path towards sick care, rather than health care. Although, the gaining popularity of the keto diet shows some promise.


Keto as a Treatment For Epilepsy Today


With a greater focus on diet and nutrition, we are returning to the ancient wisdom of the Greeks and finding sustainable ways to improve health and get to the root of disease. The ketogenic diet continues to be a suggested treatment for children with epilepsy whose seizures are not controlled by anti-epileptic drugs. In a clinical trial at Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Ketogenic diet showed an innate impact on the reduction of seizures in children who did not respond well to anti-epileptic drugs (AED). Over the course of three months, 40% of children who began the diet displayed a reduction in the number of seizures by over one half and were able to reduce their medication. Other children showed other benefits such as enhanced alertness and responsiveness.


In 2015, a new study emerged, showing that in addition to the production of ketones, the diet also produces decanoic acid, a chemical that helps to reduce seizures in some people. The diet is said to be suitable for a variety of seizure types including epilepsy syndromes, including myoclonic astatic epilepsy, Dravet syndrome, infantile spasms (West syndrome), and those with tuberous sclerosis, according to Epilepsy Society.


Keto and Diabetes


While the medicinal focus of the keto diet has historically been on epilepsy, researchers are rediscovering the diet as a treatment for other conditions such as diabetes. This comes at a good time as diabetes continues to grow at an alarming rate throughout the nation. In the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2017 report, researchers discovered that over 100 million Americans are living with diabetes or prediabetes today. Prediabetes is a condition that often involves insulin resistance. If left untreated, the condition can lead to type 2 diabetes over a five-year period. Even scarier is that over one-third of U.S adults are living with prediabetes and the larger majority doesn’t even know it. It looks like now is as good a time as any to rethink our diet.


“A ketogenic diet enables us to relearn what it means to be hungry instead of simply craving foods. As the levels of diabetes and insulin resistance in our society continue on an upward trend, we need to radically change our approach and our understanding of nutrition’s’ importance in combating these epidemics. Keto is one such tool in which I believe is sustainable and allows for eating high-quality tasty foods,” Dr. John Limansky adds.


There is a reason why the Ketogenic diet has stood the test of time. Diet matters and in order to improve human health, we must get down to basics and rethink how and why we eat the foods that we do.