Episode 9 – The Ketogenic Diet and Traumatic Brain Injury: Cavin Balaster’s Story of Recovery

Episode 9 – The Ketogenic Diet and Traumatic Brain Injury: Cavin Balaster’s Story of Recovery

Cavin Balaster’s story is an inspiration to all that know and follow him.  After falling off a two-story building in 2011 and nearly dying, Cavin used functional medicine to aid his recovery from his resulting traumatic brain injury. In this podcast learn how Cavin connects the ketogenic diet and traumatic brain injury to aid in brain recovery.

While emergency medicine saved Cavin’s life after his injury, he gives more credit to functional medicine and the ketogenic diet for improving his quality of life in his recovery.

Ketogenic diet and traumatic brain injury are gaining more attention and Cavin Balaster is a big reason for the connection between the two.   

Cavin is a speaker, educator, musician, author of How to Feed a Brain: Nutrition for Optimal Brain Function and Repair, and host of the adventuresinbraininjury.com Brain Injury Podcast. You can find him on YouTube LinkedIn Facebook and Twitter as @feedabrain

His work to spread awareness and change the way we support those recovering from traumatic brain injury is changing the quality of life for those suffering from brain injuries. 

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This podcast is brought to you by Heads Up Health, a web app designed to help you centrally track all of your vital health data. Instantly synchronize your medical records, connect your favorite health devices and apps and use your data to optimize your health!

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In this podcast you’ll learn:

  • Hear about Cavin’s life both before his traumatic brain injury accident and after
  • About his Diffuse Axonal Injury
  • How he used a ketogenic diet to aid his recovery from a traumatic brain injury
  • The appalling food sources hospitals feed traumatic brain injury patients
  • What it takes to really feed a brain to heal
  • How he grew up in a health-conscious town but never bought into it until his health depended on it
  • Why a ketogenic diet and traumatic brain injury is the best way to feed a recovering brain
  • About the serendipitous events that lead him to the right specialists at the right time to guide his healing
  • How the window for healing a brain is bigger than we’ve previously thought
  • How the gut and the brain are so linked that you can’t heal one without addressing the other
  • That the gut-brain connection is bi-directional
  • How he considered himself a ‘foodie’ before realizing what real food was really about
  • How nutrition wasn’t initially on his radar for healing and how it became a critical foundational to his recovery
  • Why mindset can make all the difference in healing from a traumatic brain injury
  • How he has been able to bring music back into his life to continue doing what he loves
  • About his work with Dr. Alex Vasquez and functional neurology
  • About his interview series – Feed A Brain with functional medicine and ketogenic leader such as Dr. Perlmutter, Dr. Kharrazian, Dr. Wahls, Nora Gedgaudas, and more

References

Our Partners:

Learn more about LEVL, a clinical-grade ketone breath meter, which measures your level of fat-burning and ketosis through a simple breath. Find out more at HeadsUpHealth.com/LEVL.

You can learn more about the Oura ring, a state of the art ring that can track sleep cycle analysis, activity, and recovery at HeadsUpHealth.com/Oura.

Learn more about Keto-Mojo, a highly accurate and affordable device for testing blood sugar and blood ketones. Check it out at HeadsUpHealth.com/Ketomojo.

All of these amazing products are integrated with Heads Up Health.

They all allow you to quantify your health in novel and powerful ways.

Thank you to our partners!

About Heads Up Health

Heads Up Health is a website designed to empower individuals who want to take a self-directed approach to managing their health. Instantly centralize your medical records, connect your favorite devices and apps (e.g., Oura, MyFitnessPal, Keto-Mojo, FitBit, Apple Health, MyMacros+, Withings and many more) and use your data to optimize your health.

Click on the button below to start your free 30-day trial now!

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Measuring Ketones: The Difference Between Testing Breath and Blood

Measuring Ketones: The Difference Between Testing Breath and Blood

The ketogenic diet has been demonstrated to have a wide variety of benefits spanning multiple populations including the treatment of epilepsy, type-2 diabetes, neurological disorders, weight loss, endurance performance and even certain types of cancer treatments (1-5). The hallmark of a well-formulated ketogenic diet is a rise of ketone bodies which happens following a prolonged period of carbohydrate or caloric restriction (i.e, fasting). Ketone bodies are produced in the liver as an alternative fuel source to carbohydrates and measuring ketones is a way to determine the degree of ketosis someone is in.

The two primary methods for measuring ketones are via blood and breath testing. There are a number of consumer devices on the market to support either method. Having a central location to track ketone values can help you fine tune your approach on the ketogenic diet. The Heads Up Health web app is designed specifically to help you track ketones alongside all of your other vital health data. You can start your free 30-day trial (no credit card required) using the button below. Or, read on to learn more about the difference between blood and breath ketone testing.

TRACK KETONES!

Why Measuring Ketones Matters

Being able to frequently and accurately measure the level of ketosis can be important for those following the ketogenic diet for clinical purposes as well as for overall health and performance. Due to individual variability in response to different types of food, having frequent feedback will aid individuals towards improving their understanding of how their body responds while increasing motivation and adherence.

This need has led researchers and practitioners to be on the look-out for fast and accurate methods to assess ketone levels. Traditionally, ketone levels have been assessed via urine strips and while this method may be easiest, it is not the most practical.  This method measures the excretion of ketones and wasn’t intended for people following a ketogenic diet; rather it was intended for those suffering from conditions such as diabetic ketoacidosis.  This is because urine strips test for unused acetoacetate rather than the main ketone that our body does use, B-hydroxybutyrate.

In the ketogenic space, measuring the blood B-hydroxybutyrate concentration is the standard protocol. While this method has been shown to be more accurate than urine tests, these blood assessments may be troublesome for children and elderly, and could become expensive (requires a constant supply of blood strips), and not as practical outside of a clinical setting.

Recently, researchers have identified breath acetone assessments as a practical and accurate method to determine level of ketosis (6).

What is Breath Acetone?

When following a ketogenic diet, acetyl-CoA is produced in the liver from the breakdown of fat and is used to produce acetoacetate, one of three ketone bodies.  From there, acetoacetate can be converted to the other two “ketone bodies”, b-hydroxybutyrate and acetone.  While b-hydroxybutyrate is tested via blood meters, acetone actually diffuses into the lungs and can be measured by testing exhaled breath (7)! Acetone is a byproduct of fat metabolism and is present in the breath of all humans but in different concentrations.

In healthy individuals, resting acetone levels may range from 0.5 to 2.0 ppm. Individuals following the ketogenic diet can see levels of acetone up to 40 ppm. Individuals undergoing a prolonged fast may see elevated levels up to 170 ppm. Lastly, uncontrolled diabetes and subsequent ketoacidosis may lead to acetone levels of 1250 ppm (8).

It is also interesting to note that as acetone is a byproduct of fat metabolism, it can also be used to measure the rate of fat loss (9).

More specific for those following a ketogenic diet, to date, six studies have compared breath acetone levels with blood b-hydroxybutyrate levels and have found a strong correlation (R2= 0.77) (8). One study in particular directly compared blood, breath, and urine samples of 12 healthy individuals undergoing an experimental protocol designed to induce a state of ketosis. The results demonstrated that plasma acetoacetate was best predicted by breath acetone (6). Therefore, it appears that breath acetone assessments are a fast and accurate way to test for the degree of ketosis.

Tracking progress with Heads Up Health

The Heads Up Health web app is designed specifically to help you track your progress on the ketogenic diet. Powerful dashboards, charts and other tools help you use data to customize and fine tune the ketogenic diet for your own body. More specifically:

  • Connect the LEVL breath ketone analyzer and instantly sync your readings. Learn more.
  • Connect the Ketonix breath ketone analyzer and instantly sync your readings. Learn more.
  • Easily track Keto-Mojo readings on your Heads Up dashboard. Learn more.
  • Track ketones from other blood meters. Learn more.

Create your own personal dashboard with the metrics that matter most to you!

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Blood vs. Breath Ketones

Blood vs. Breath Ketones

Wrapping it up: Measuring Ketones (Blood VS. Breath)

While blood assessments are a great way to measure ketosis, breath acetone assessments also appear to be a fast and accurate measure to determine the degree of ketosis. This is not to say that blood assessments should lose any of their value as they are still extremely valuable and should be taken in conjunction with breath assessments. However, the major benefit to breath assessments is the practicality of breath ketone levels as it can be assessed frequently with no invasive procedures helping individuals maximize their ketogenic diets!

Heads Up Health lets you track all types of ketone measurements – urine, breath and blood – so you can choose the method that works best for your lifestyle and budget. Additionally, the LEVL and Ketonix breath ketone meters can be electronically linked to your Heads Up Health account so readings will be synchronized automatically and can be tracked alongside all of your other vital health data. Start your free 30-day trial today!

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References

1.)   Neal, E. G., Chaffe, H., Schwartz, R. H., Lawson, M. S., Edwards, N., Fitzsimmons, G., … & Cross, J. H. (2008). The ketogenic diet for the treatment of childhood epilepsy: a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Neurology, 7(6), 500-506.

2.)   Westman, E. C., Yancy, W. S., Mavropoulos, J. C., Marquart, M., & McDuffie, J. R. (2008). The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutrition & metabolism, 5(1), 36.

3.)   Gasior, M., Rogawski, M. A., & Hartman, A. L. (2006). Neuroprotective and disease-modifying effects of the ketogenic diet. Behavioural pharmacology, 17(5-6), 431.

4.)   Johnstone, A. M., Horgan, G. W., Murison, S. D., Bremner, D. M., & Lobley, G. E. (2008). Effects of a high-protein ketogenic diet on hunger, appetite, and weight loss in obese men feeding ad libitum–. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 87(1), 44-55.

5.)   Zhou, W., Mukherjee, P., Kiebish, M. A., Markis, W. T., Mantis, J. G., & Seyfried, T. N. (2007). The calorically restricted ketogenic diet, an effective alternative therapy for malignant brain cancer. Nutrition & metabolism, 4(1), 5.

6.)   Musa-Veloso, K., Likhodii, S. S., & Cunnane, S. C. (2002). Breath acetone is a reliable indicator of ketosis in adults consuming ketogenic meals. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 76(1), 65-70.

7.)   Kalapos, M. P. (2003). On the mammalian acetone metabolism: from chemistry to clinical implications. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-General Subjects, 1621(2), 122-139.

8.)   Anderson, J. C. (2015). Measuring breath acetone for monitoring fat loss. Obesity, 23(12), 2327-2334.

9.)   Freund, G. (1965). The calorie deficiency hypothesis of ketogenesis tested in man. Metabolism-Clinical and Experimental, 14(9), 985-990.

Episode 8 – Health is a Mosaic: How to Read Blood Test Results When Eating Keto or Low Carb – with Amy Berger

Episode 8 – Health is a Mosaic: How to Read Blood Test Results When Eating Keto or Low Carb – with Amy Berger

Join Dave Korsunsky as he interviews Amy Berger of Tuit Nutrition on how to read blood test results as part of your low-carb ketogenic lifestyle.  Amy breaks down all the important facts on how to read blood test results, which ones to keep an eye on and how to interpret your own test results through a low-carb/ketogenic lens. This podcast is a continuation of Amy’s in-depth blood chemistry master class  on the Heads Up Health blog.

Check out Amy Berger’s full series of “Low-carb Lab Testing” blog posts here.

Amy Berger is a USAF veteran, who holds a master’s degree in human nutrition, is a Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) and certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP). She is a low carb/keto/paleo nutritionist, author of The Alzheimer’s Antidote, and blogger at Tuit Nutrition. She can also be found on Twitter

If you’re new to, or considering a low carb lifestyle, this podcast will help you understand which labs to ask your doctor for and how to read blood test results to empower your health.

If you’ve been at this for a while, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of what your blood sugar test results mean. You’ll learn which labs you should be paying attention to, as well as what to do when your doctor or insurance won’t get you the labs you need.

Listen in iTunes!

This podcast is brought to you by Heads Up Health, a web app designed to help you centrally track all of your vital health data. Instantly synchronize your medical records, connect your favorite health devices and apps and use your data to optimize your health!

Click on the button below to start your free 30-day trial. Or, read on for more information about our latest podcast episode!

START TRACKING!

In this episode you’ll learn how to read blood test results on low-carb/keto:

  • About blood sugar patterns after intense exercise
  • How Heads Up Health brings metrics from all your tracking apps together including blood test results.
  • The differences between fasting glucose, hemoglobin A1c (HgA1c), fructosamine, fasting insulin and how some measurements are more accurate than others
  • When to use fasting glucose vs. post-prandial (after meal) blood sugar test results
  • What you need to know about how to read blood test results and be your own advocate for getting what you need for your health
  • About at home testing as well as how to obtain your own labs when your doctor or insurance won’t order them
  • Why fasting insulin is the most important test your doctor isn’t ordering
  • What the Hemoglobin A1c (HgA1c) test is and why it’s not always as accurate as you’d expect
  • Why you can have normal blood sugar test results with elevated insulin, indicating serious metabolic issues, despite having labs that ‘look great’ to your doctor
  • The reasons why hyperinsulinemia can indicate a system out of balance and how the body is overcompensating for elevated blood sugar levels.
  • What the HOMA-IR is and what it tells you regarding risk of metabolic disease
  • Why fasting blood glucose is the last thing to rise and is not a reliable indicator for early metabolic issues
  • The two best blood sugar tests for early stage indicators of metabolic issues
  • Why most thyroid tests doctors run are incomplete
  • How without a full thyroid panel diagnosis can be missed leaving those suffering with symptoms of subclinical thyroid disorders and no support
  • What The Kraft test is and when it’s most useful
  • The reason why TSH isn’t the most important thyroid lab and why it alone is not enough
  • About myths surrounding low carb and hypothyroidism, and how the numbers can sometimes fluctuate but not be a reason to abandon low carb eating
  • Why high insulin in the presence of normal blood sugar test results, is the leading cause of any major illness including; gout, high blood pressure, obesity, PCOS, cardiovascular disease, erectile dysfunction, and more
  • What the Coronary Artery Calcium (CAC) Score is and why it can help you discern when you actually have an atherosclerosis problem
  • Why cholesterol numbers do not always mean as much as we’ve been taught regarding heart health
  • Amy Berger’s advice to anyone adopting a low carb lifestyle

Low-Carb Lab Testing – The Series

Check out the ongoing series on our blog that gives you all the information you need to read blood test results as part of your low-carb ketogenic lifestyle:

References:

Our Partners:

Learn more about LEVL, a clinical-grade ketone breath meter, which measures your level of fat-burning and ketosis through a simple breath. Find out more at HeadsUpHealth.com/LEVL.

You can learn more about the Oura ring, a state of the art ring that can track sleep cycle analysis, activity, and recovery at HeadsUpHealth.com/Oura.

Learn more about Keto-Mojo, a highly accurate and affordable device for testing blood sugar and blood ketones. Check it out at HeadsUpHealth.com/Ketomojo.

All of these amazing products are integrated with Heads Up Health.

They all allow you to quantify your health in novel and powerful ways.

Thank you to our partners!

About Heads Up Health

Heads Up Health is a website designed to empower individuals who want to take a self-directed approach to managing their health. Instantly centralize your medical records, connect your favorite devices and apps (e.g., Oura, MyFitnessPal, Keto-Mojo, FitBit, Apple Health, MyMacros+, Withings and many more) and use your data to optimize your health.

Click on the button below to start your free 30-day trial now!

START TRACKING!

Low-carb Lab Testing — Part 8: The CAC Test – A Better Way to Evaluate Cardiovascular Health

Low-carb Lab Testing — Part 8: The CAC Test – A Better Way to Evaluate Cardiovascular Health

What is the CAC test and why should you care?

If you’ve been following a low-carb or ketogenic diet for a while, there’s a chance your cholesterol has gone up.  And not just your HDL, but also your LDL—the so-called “bad cholesterol” (even though that’s a total misnomer).  Maybe your cholesterol has actually gone sky-high, and your doctor not only wants you to start taking medication immediately, but she’s also ordered you to quit your “crazy” high fat diet.  Even if you follow some other kind of diet—Paleo, vegetarian, low fat, or no special plan at all—maybe your cholesterol is high, and you’ve been told you need medication, or that you should exercise more.

Your doctor is only looking out for your best interest, but if they’re not up on the latest research, they might not know that your cholesterol level tells you very little about your risk for cardiovascular disease or a heart attack:

There’s “a growing volume of knowledge that challenges the validity of the cholesterol hypothesis and the utility of cholesterol as a surrogate end point.” (DuBroff, 2017)

It’s possible to have low cholesterol but massive heart disease, or to have very high cholesterol but be in great cardiovascular shape.

If you don’t want to start a war with your doctor, but you also don’t want to abandon a way of eating that’s helped you lose weight, have more energy, and maybe even reduce or eliminate diabetes medications, you can experiment with lowering your cholesterol by using the Feldman Protocol, which we featured here at Heads Up Health.  But there’s a much better way to evaluate your cardiovascular health than just looking at cholesterol.  It’s called the coronary artery calcium test (CAC).  We’ll explore it in detail in a bit.  First, let’s look a little closer at the problems with using cholesterol as an indicator of heart health.

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Episode 7 – Why Are Vegetable Oils Bad For Your Health? Quick Hits with Dr. John Limansky

Episode 7 – Why Are Vegetable Oils Bad For Your Health? Quick Hits with Dr. John Limansky

Are vegetable oils bad for your health? Does the quality of fats in your diet really matter? Absolutely!

Listen in iTunes!

Welcome to the first of our new Quick Hits feature episodes, delivering the quick and dirty details on topics that are important to you and your health. In 15 minutes or less we’ll deliver important health info to you to keep your mind active whether you’re waiting in the carpool lane, on your morning commute, or fitting in a quick workout!

Why are industrial seed and vegetable oils bad for your health? In this Quick Hits episode, Dave Korsunsky sits down with Dr. John Limansky, MD board-certified physician of Internal Medicine to ‘chew the fat’ on this important topic.

We’re diving in quick to get you the big ideas and then we’ll provide you some resources at the bottom of the page for further reading if you want to learn more. You’ll get a quick intro into why vegetable oils are bad and why you should take measures to avoid them in your diet for optimal health.  

While ketogenic dieting has gained a lot of popularity, it is important to note that the quality of fats is just as, if not more important, than the quantity you consume.

You literally build your body with every bite you take, so take a few minutes to learn just why are vegetable oils bad and why you should avoid them.  

Are you still unclear on which fats are good, and which are associated with increased health risks?  

Take a listen and see how your diet rates!

Listen in iTunes!

This podcast is brought to you by Heads Up Health, a web app designed to help you centrally track all of your vital health data. Instantly synchronize your medical records, connect your favorite health devices and apps like MyFitnessPal or MyMacros+ and use your data to optimize your health!

Click on the button below to start your free 30-day trial. Or, read on for more information about our latest podcast episode!

START TRACKING!

In this Quick Hits episode, you’ll learn:

  • The importance of eating healthy fats, especially while doing a ketogenic diet
  • Why are seed and vegetable oils bad for your health?
  • What specific vegetable and seed oils are detrimental
  • How we got to the point of thinking these were “heart healthy” fats
  • Why these vegetable oils are so prevalent in our food supply
  • How trans fats are created through the processing of vegetable oils
  • How canola oil is derived, and how it was not even initially allowed for human consumption
  • How a man converted his car to run on vegetable oils for fuel
  • How these bad vegetable oils get stuck in your body and cause damage
  • How these vegetable oils lead to overproduction of free radicals and other health risks
  • Why you need a 1:1 ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fats in your diet
  • Why these bad vegetable oils are pro-inflammatory
  • How there can still be trans-fats in foods labeled “no trans fats”
  • How these vegetable oils can damage cells and become plastic-like, decreasing function in your brain and liver
  • What you can do about improving your omega 3-6 ratio
  • What foods are healthy fat sources
  • How fasting can help get rid of these damaging vegetable oils

References:

Our partners

You can learn more about the Oura ring, a state of the art ring that can track sleep cycle analysis, activity, and recovery at HeadsUpHealth.com/Oura.

Learn more about Keto-Mojo, a highly accurate and affordable device for testing blood sugar and blood ketones. Check it out at HeadsUpHealth.com/Ketomojo.

Learn more about LEVL, a clinical-grade breath ketone analyzer, which measures your level of fat-burning and ketosis through a simple breath. Find out more at HeadsUpHealth.com/LEVL.

All of these amazing products are integrated with Heads Up Health.

They all allow you to quantify your health in novel and powerful ways.

Thank you to our partners!

About Heads Up Health

Heads Up Health is a website designed to empower individuals who want to take a self-directed approach to managing their health. Instantly centralize your medical records, connect your favorite devices and apps (e.g., Oura, MyFitnessPal, Keto-Mojo, FitBit, Apple Health, MyMacros+, Withings and many more) and use your data to optimize your health.

Click on the button below to start your free 30-day trial now!

START TRACKING!