Eight Great Ketogenic Diet Benefits

Eight Great Ketogenic Diet Benefits

As research and public awareness into the ketogenic diet continues to expand, we are learning more about the incredibly powerful benefits of a ketogenic diet for health, wellness and treating disease. That said, many questions remain, especially for those who are new to the ketogenic diet and looking to get started. In this post, we take an introductory look at some of the top ketogenic diet benefits.

Heads Up Health is a free program to help you track all your health metrics – including ketones. You can sign up for free using the button below. Or, read on for our “Eight Great Ketogenic Diet Benefits”.

A Tale of Two Fuel Sources

Over the course of millions of years of evolution, our bodies have developed the ability to run off of two primary fuel sources – fat and glucose (carbohydrates). When we consume a diet that is abundant in carbohydrates, the body breaks down the carbohydrates into glucose, which becomes the primary fuel source for the cells in our body.

Conversely, when we consume a diet that is abundant in fat (and low in carbs), our cells can switch over and start metabolizing fat for energy.

Lastly, in periods of calorie restriction (starvation, intermittent fasting, high-intensity or ultra-endurance exercise etc.), our body will first burn off all our internal glucose reserves to fuel itself. If food is still not available, the body will then start burning its fat stores for energy.

 

Optimal calorie structure for the ketogenic diet

Optimal calorie structure for the ketogenic diet

When we burn fat for energy, either through a low-carb/high-fat diet or calorie restriction, the body produces ketones. Ketones, as we are now learning, are incredibly powerful compounds for optimal human health.

Rediscovering Our Fat Burning Machinery

In more recent times, our fat-burning fuel system has become obsolete. We live in a society where we have unlimited access to cheap and abundant food sources based almost entirely on carbohydrates (bread, pasta, grains, cereal, rice, sugar, corn, alcohol, fruit etc.). One consequence of relying almost exclusively on glucose for fuel and never accessing our fat stores for energy is that our fat stores just continue to grow, and grow, and grow. This comes with a host of health risks which are now plaguing our society such as obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and heart disease to name just a few.

With the ketogenic diet, we are re-discovering our body’s ability to burn fat for energy. Whereas in the past this capability was used to help us survive and adapt to conditions where food was scarce, we are now learning how to strategically use this fat-burning fuel system for optimal health. We’ve had this ability for millions of years but somewhere along the line we lost touch with it. As it turns out, the cells in our body actually run better on ketones than they do on carbs.

Ketogenic Diet Benefits

With a basic understanding of ketones under our belt, we can now look at some of the top ketogenic diet benefits.

  1. Increased mental clarity:
    • Ketones pass directly through the blood-brain barrier and are a preferred fuel source for our brains. In fact, by some estimates, our brains may perform up to 25-30% more efficiently when running on ketones over carbohydrate [1]. The result is increased mental clarity, better focus and an overall sense of mental sharpness.

      ketogenic_diet_track_heads_up_health

      Ketogenic diet benefits – our brains run better on ketones

  2. Increased energy levels:
    • The mitochondria are the power plants that produce energy in every cell in our body. Much like our brains, our mitochondria have evolved to be more efficient when burning fat (in the form of ketones) over carbs. With a more efficient and cleaner burning fuel source for our mitochondria, ketones can provide a steady boost in our energy levels.

      Ketogenic diet benefits - increased mitochondrial energy

      Ketogenic diet benefits – increased mitochondrial energy

  3. Appetite regulation:
    • Ketones work in the body as a natural appetite suppressant. The exact mechanisms are not yet fully understood, but early research suggests that ketones signal to the brain we are in a fed state, thereby reducing appetite and food cravings.
  4. Weight loss:
    • As we enter a state of ketosis, we are reprogramming the cells in our body to burn fat (instead of carbs) for energy. This forces the body to dip into its fat reserves and burn the fat as energy. This is part of the reason why the ketogenic diet is so effective as a natural treatment for losing weight, treating obesity and improving body composition.

      Ketogenic Diet Benefits - Weight Loss

      Ketogenic Diet Benefits – Weight Loss

  5. Reduced inflammation:
    • Ketones reduce inflammation by directly inhibiting NLRP3, which is part of a complex set of proteins called the inflammasome. The inflammasome drives the inflammatory response in several disorders including autoimmune diseases, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, and auto-inflammatory disorders.[2]
  6. Lower blood sugar:
    • Ketones are a natural mechanism to reduce insulin and blood sugar. The ketogenic diet is also very low in carbs, which keeps blood sugar and insulin down. As a result, the ketogenic diet (and other low-carb/high-fat diets) can be an effective and natural strategy for treating conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s and other metabolic conditions.
  7. Cancer treatment and prevention:
    • There are a number of studies currently underway exploring the ketogenic diet for cancer treatment [3]. The presence of ketones seems to inhibit the growth of cancer cells [4]. Additionally, since many types of cancer cells can only survive with glucose as a fuel source, we may be able to starve cancer cells through a low-carb/high-fat diet where ketones become the primary fuel source in the body.
  8. Disease management:
    • The ketogenic diet has also been used effectively as a treatment for epilepsy, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), heartburn (GERD), nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), brain injury, dementia and many more.

Are Ketogenic Diets Safe?

Although many conventional doctors and health professionals may not be up-to-speed on the latest research into ketogenic diets, when used properly, it is a safe and effective strategy for improving health and treating a host of “western” diseases. In fact, given all of the health challenges and chronic diseases now being linked to the Standard American Diet, the ketogenic diet (and other low-carb/high-fat approaches) may actually be a safer and more effective nutritional strategy for optimal health.

Ketone bodies are produced in the liver when the body burns fat for energy

Ketone bodies are produced in the liver when the body burns fat for energy

The diet does come with its own set of challenges and it can be very difficult to implement and maintain. If you prefer to work with a professional, seek out a doctor or health professional who has expertise in the ketogenic diet and who can guide you along the way (see appendix for recommendations).

Track Your Progress

Heads Up Health was designed to help you track all of your health metrics in one place. Everything from weight readings to ketone values to cholesterol levels can be tracked within the app.

The video below is a short tutorial on how to use Heads Up Health for tracking ketones. The same features can be used to track blood sugar, weight, body fat and even your medical records within one single, secure online portfolio. You can learn more about the Heads Up app on our homepage.

We also give you tools to look at trends over time, correlate different metrics and share your data with any health expert you choose. The graph below is showing weight and ketone readings graphed together in Heads Up Health to see how ketosis is affecting weight loss.

Ketogenic diet benefits - weight loss

Correlating weight and ketone readings in Heads Up Health

Conclusions

The ketogenic diet triggers a natural process in our body where we metabolize fat for fuel as opposed to glucose. A benefit of fat metabolization is the production of ketones – which offer a number of powerful benefits for human health. We are just now re-discovering this fat burning capability and learning how we can use ketones and the ketogenic diet to affect a number of powerful health outcomes.

For more information on getting started, check out our blog post: 5 Steps to Jumpstart the Ketogenic Diet. You can also sign up to Heads Up Health below and start tracking all your health metrics as you make the switch to a ketogenic diet. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot us an e-mail.

References

[1] http://www.drmyhill.co.uk/wiki/Ketogenic_diet_-_a_connection_between_mitochondria_and_diet

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/25686106/?i=3&from=bhb+inflammation

[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4215472/

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24615175

 

5 Reasons to Hunt Down Your Health Records

5 Reasons to Hunt Down Your Health Records

Of all the information out there in our digital lives, from photos to tweets to text messages, it’s our health records that contain the most vital information of all. The information that could mean life or death in an emergency. The historical information that can lead a physician to the correct diagnosis. The information that can guide us on our journey to optimal wellness and disease prevention.

And yet for many of us, our health history is in disarray. We’ve moved to new cities, changed doctors and changed health insurance plans many times over. We’ve lost health records when our computer hard drive died or when the paper records at home got lost in the shuffle.

At Heads Up Health, we’ve set out to solve this problem by giving you a secure space to centralize all of your vital health data.  If you’re ready to get started, click the button below to visit our home page and create your account. Or continue reading for our top reasons to hunt down your health records and build your own centralized portfolio.

Top five reasons to hunt down your health records

1. The onus is on the you – the patient. Unfortunately our health care system still thinks it’s 1965 and we all live in the same house with the white picket fence and go to the same doctor or health system until the day we die. If you’ve ever tried to transfer your health records from one facility to another, you know how painful this can be.

 

The reality is that for most of us, the days of the traditional doctor-patient relationship are gone. We move to new cities, change insurance plans and change doctors. We consult with physicians on Skype and through apps on our mobile phone like Doctor on Demand. We seek health advice from conventional MD’s, functional medicine doctors, nutritionists, naturopaths, Google and our favorite health related groups on FaceBook.

Centralize medical  records  - request copies from your doctor.

Centralize medical records – request copies from your doctor.

In this new world, the onus is on us – the patient – to be in control of our health information. We need tools to manage this effectively – which is where Heads Up Health can help.

2. Empower yourself. Studies have shown that 79 percent of people say online access has a positive impact of their knowledge of their health. Do this and you’ll feel prepared to make changes when needed to lower cholesterol, for example, if you know elevated cholesterol runs in your family.

Centralize your medical records with Heads Up Health

Centralize medical records – the onus is on the patient!

3. Spot mistakes and get them fixed. By getting your health records and taking the time to review them, you’re looking out for number one. There have been numerous reports of people being wrongly diagnosed, like Trisha Torrey, founder of the Alliance for Professional Health Advocates. Torrey was wrongly diagnosed with cancer and because of due diligence on her part, she was able to avoid getting unnecessary chemotherapy treatments. 

Heads Up - Share Data

Heads Up Health enables you to share your health records with your family if needed.

4. Be prepared for an emergency. You think that if you wipe out on your scooter while on vacation that your primary care physician (PCP) is going to drop everything and send your health records over to the emergency room you’re at? Maybe, but maybe not. The Privacy Rule says that your provider must share your health records with you or a personal representative. They’re not obligated to share it with other providers or plans. Meaning: if you end up in a sticky situation where say, you need your records from your PCP now, and your PCP’s office is closed for the weekend, you’re outta luck with getting your records quickly. If you already have them it’s not a problem.

Centralize medical records -  be prepared for the unexpexted

Centralize medical records – be prepared for the unexpexted

5. Because you can. U.S laws are designed to empower the patient. The Affordable Care Act wants you proactively involved in your health care. Under other countries’ laws, it’s not always that easy. For example, in Slovakia, patients have no direct access to the “result of the examinations of diagnostic and treatment components. But, it can be “made available to the patient by the health professional who requested the medical examination or the treatment.” Think about that: some people have to jump through some serious hoops to get access to get something that you legally already have the right to. You have rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Use them.

How to Get Started

  1. Make a list of past doctors, dentists and other healthcare professionals who may have copies of your health history.
  2. If the doctor or health system is in the Heads Up Health database, you can electronically connect this medical facility and we will automatically synchronize your health data. Check out this video tutorial for a “how-to” on electronically connecting your medical facility.
  3. For facilities we can’t connect to automatically, contact the doctor or facility and request copies of your medical records.
  4. Upload these documents into your Heads Up profile. You can also upload any documents you have at home. We give you an encrypted cloud storage to ensure your records are accessible any time you need them. Check out this video tutorial on uploading your documents.
  5. If all of this sounds like a major pain in the ass, let our Concierge Service do all of the work for you

Heads Up Health empowers patients to collect their health records and keep them in one spot. Sign up today to get started. Or, feel free to contact us with any questions.

Technology Helps Us Manage Our Health

We’re entering an era where the patient has more data on his or her health than the physician. Thanks to incredible advances in consumer health technology, we can now easily track everything from how much we exercise to what we eat, how well we sleep or how stressed out we feel. Our technology helps us manage our health.

Wearable devices and smartphone apps have opened new doors to measuring our day-to-day lifestyle choices and activities. We can use this technology and the data it provides to feel better, look better and even prevent disease or illness.

In our previous blog post, Centralizing Your Medical Records, we looked at the first of five core principles of the Heads Up Health software:

  1. Centralizing your medical records
  2. Using technology to self-manage
  3. Improving health through better understanding of your data
  4. Sharing data across your care team
  5. Taking your health data with you wherever you go

In this post, we continue our series on the vision for Heads Up Health’s software by looking at how it integrates consumer health technology. This integration can help you intelligently manage your health and transform the way you look at your healthcare analytics.

Your Healthcare Bank Account

Imagine checking your bank account at the end of the year with no information on individual transactions. Just a single number that shows your ending balance.

You’d probably be scratching your head because you’d have no idea where your money went or how to adjust your spending habits. Any attempts to figure out how you arrived at your final balance would probably involve a lot unreliable guesswork, especially since there’s quite a few studies that show that the human brain has limited memory space and can even trick itself into thinking false memories are real memories.

A once-a-year bank statement is kind of like an annual visit to your doctor. You get the final balance but have no way to quantify how you got there. Maybe your weight went up 10 pounds. Maybe your blood pressure has ticked up, and your cholesterol is higher. Maybe you also tell the doctor you’ve been feeling sluggish, not sleeping well and you’re generally stressed out at work.

Now imagine if you had detailed transaction records for your health, just like we have detailed transaction records for our bank accounts. You could easily begin to quantify your lifestyle and make adjustments to improve your health. With the right tools, your short-term and long-term physical health could be managed just like your bank account.

Heads Up Health helps you track all of your health transactions in one place, so you have a complete record of what’s happening in your body. Considering that chronic diseases make up 70 percent of deaths in the U.S. and that most of them are preventable, having an accurate method of managing your health data over time is a powerful tool.

Optimizing Consumer Health Technology with Heads Up Health

Heads Up Health is designed to help you leverage technology to manage your health in two ways:

  1. Centralizing the data

For all the promise of consumer health technology, one of the major challenges is integrating all of the data in one place. Scales, activity trackers, mobile apps, glucometers and other health devices each maintain a portion of your data in a different location. What’s needed is an integrated health dashboard that can manage all this information in one place.

Heads Up Health solves this problem.

The software integrates data from all the leading consumer health technologies. Connecting your devices and apps into your Heads Up account is as simple as signing into your online bank. For devices and apps that don’t have a supported connection, we support uploading data through CSV files or simply entering the data manually.

Heads Up dashboard

Heads Up Dashboard

  1. Integrating the data with your medical records

In addition to centralizing healthcare analytics, it’s equally important to see that data alongside your medical records. Are my nutritional changes really lowering my cholesterol? Is exercise really lowering my blood sugar? Are my lifestyle changes improving my thyroid function? The only way to answer these questions is if we compare our lifestyle data (which we collect from consumer health technology) with the data in our medical records.

There are solutions on the market to help aggregate lifestyle data from health devices and apps. There are other solutions on the market that can help you centralize your medical records. However, at Heads Up we believe the complete solution needs to include both.

Tracking blood sugar in Heads Up Health

Tracking blood sugar in Heads Up Health

Get Started!

Consumer health devices are quickly becoming highly sophisticated and clinically relevant. The data is also becoming increasingly easy to collect. Heads Up Health is here to help you manage that data, and transform your health. If you’re interested in seeing all your healthcare analytics in one spot, sign up for the beta version of Health Up Health. Or, if you want to stay up-to-date with the latest healthcare, fitness and wellness trends, follow us on Twitter or find us on Facebook.

Photo source

Centralizing Your Medical Records Is Good for Your Health!

When I was working to improve my own health a few years ago, I realized how difficult it was to access my healthcare history. Over the course of ten years I had compiled valuable medical data in three different patient portals within the San Francisco Bay Area (Stanford, UCSF and St. Mary’s). To make matters worse, I recently moved to a new health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act. My doctor of five years did not accept this new insurance and I therefore had to find a new physician. I had to set up a fourth patient portal containing yet another fragment of my health data. This was in addition to all the information I had in paper records and PDF files. What a mess!

Centralizing Your Records with Heads Up Health

A recent article in the Wall St. Journal, How to Take Charge of Your Medical Records, talks about how important it can be for consumers to take charge their health data. The challenge is how to get all of the data in one place. At Heads Up we set out to solve this problem for our users. Our goal was to make it easy for anyone to have all their information at their fingertips. We accomplish this in three ways:

  1. Automatically downloading your records:

Our software is already capable of connecting to thousands of medical facilities across the country and we are adding more every week. We can import your records from any facility with a supported connection and show you everything in one place. Even though these facilities are not capable of centralizing your records, we can download each set of records and centralize the information for you.

Heads Up Health - Centralized Medical Records

Heads Up Health – Centralized Medical Records

  1. Entering historical data manually:

The reality is that even with advancements in electronic health records, we will still have to deal with records on paper and PDF files for the foreseeable future. Heads Up makes it easy to enter these historical records so you can access them right next to your electronic records.

Heads Up Health - Entering Historical Records

Heads Up Health – Entering Historical Records

  1. Concierge Service

We realize many people would like the benefit of centralized records but may not have the time or the expertise to request all of these records and load them into the Heads Up system. Our “Concierge Service” can help with this task. With this service, you have your own personal concierge who will do all the work for you.

The Power of Your Health Records

With all your records at your fingertips, you are now empowered to manage your health in new ways. Consider some of the following benefits of having your medical information in one convenient, central location:

  • Know your numbers: Doctors are extremely busy. They may glance at your medical history for a few seconds before your appointment but outside of that, your information is largely ignored. Taking your medical data into your own hands gives you the ability to understand your own numbers, track how changes in your lifestyle affect these numbers, spot trends, and maintain a better understanding of your own body.
  • Ask better questions: As you learn more about your health, you can start asking your doctor better questions and demanding better answers. You can do your own research before your appointments and go prepared with informed questions.
  • Get a second opinion: If you aren’t satisfied with the answers you are getting, having your own records makes it easy to get a second opinion. You are no longer limited to physicians who previously had access to your data. In fact, many people use this approach to solicit care from health professionals other than traditional medical doctors. Functional medicine specialists, nutritionists, naturopathic doctors and many other specialists can provide highly valuable care, especially if you can provide them with your detailed medical history.
  • Detect errors: When individuals can scrutinize their own records, they are more likely to detect errors. These could be errors when the data was entered into the health record by a physician or medical facility. They could also be medical errors where a physician overlooked an important medical clue that could have prevented a medical issue or led to an earlier diagnosis or intervention.

Join Us!

The winds of change are starting to blow through the healthcare industry. More and more people are taking control of their health data and using it to take a more self-directed approach to their care. The days of living in one city and seeing the same doctor are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Individuals want freedom and choice to move freely and consult with whomever they choose. Our goal is to empower you with your own information. Learn more at headsuphealth.com and register for our beta program. You can also contact us any time with questions or comments. We’re here to help!

Dave Korsunsky

Founder & CEO

 

Featured image.

Become the CEO of Your Health

Become the CEO of Your Health

Welcome to the Heads Up Health blog. We are a San Francisco-based startup looking to change the way individuals manage their health. By providing better tools to manage health information, we aim to empower individuals to take more control in managing their own care. With that goal in mind, we’ve built our software around five core principles:

1. Centralized Medical Records

We help you centralize all of your medical records in one place, regardless of where they exist. Thanks to advancements in electronic health records, we can now automatically pull in your records from thousands of different facilities across the country. For your medical records that aren’t online, we make it easy to import data from those files as well. If you are busy and on the go, our Concierge Service can do the data entry for you. Whether it’s your cholesterol data or your immunization records, we make it easy to maintain a complete history of your health at all times.

Centralize your medical records with Heads Up Health

Centralize your medical records

2. Technology to self-manage

Emerging wearable technology makes it easier than ever to collect valuable data on our health. We integrate with industry leading activity trackers (FitBit, JawBone), wireless scales, blue tooth blood pressure monitors, glucometers and a range of other health devices. We also integrate with popular health and fitness mobile apps like RunKeeper, myFitnessPal and Moves.

Heads Up Health Dashboard

Heads Up Health Dashboard

3. Help me use my data to improve health outcomes

With all of your medical and wearable data in one place, we provide you with personalized insights and powerful analytics tools to master your health using your own data.

Is my FitBit really lowering my weight over time? Are my dietary changes really lowering my cholesterol or my blood sugar? By bringing all your information into one place, we can help you measure and quantify your progress over time in ways that have never been possible before.

Heads Up Health Analyzer

Heads Up Health Analyzer

4. Share my data with whomever I choose

At Heads Up Health we realize that your care team extends beyond just your medical doctor. We’ve made it easy to share your health information as you see fit. Whether you choose to consult with a medical doctor, a nutritionist, a personal trainer, a functional medicine specialist or a family member, we make it easy to give them access to your health information so you can make informed decisions.

Heads Up Health - Care Team Access

Heads Up Health – Care Team Access

5. Take my data with me

Whether you move to the other side of the city or the other side of the world, you need to take your health information with you. We built our software so that your health information is not locked into any specific doctor’s office, hospital system, insurance company or employee wellness system. You control your data and you can take it with you wherever your go.

Our beta program is open and you can register on our home page. Feel free to contact us with any questions at support@headsuphealth.com. We are excited to have your support as we grow.

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