Keto Live Conference: Keto as a Powerful Therapeutic Tool to Create and Regain Health

Picture an authentic village surrounded by cows and mountains where healthcare professionals from around the world gather together to discuss a groundbreaking way of eating. This is exactly what happened from Monday June 10th till Friday June 14th during the first international Keto Live Conference that took place in Bergün in Switzerland. A 5-day event focused on sharing knowledge about the promising role of a ketogenic diet in the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases. Not only by listening to talks and discussions, but also by networking, following workshops, watching keto-related movies, and eating delicious keto foods. 

As a Dietitian, I have studied and followed this lifestyle myself since my internship at The Noakes Foundation with the desired results and beyond. In a one-year timeframe I have expanded my keto network in such a way that I am now connected to many inspiring and motivated people that aim to make the world a healthier place. To combine forces, I joined Rene from Lus Health Ingredients to this event by sharing my expertise on how to use MCT oil on a day-to-day base. Besides doing this by serving MCT turmeric lattes (click here for the recipe), we were of course also free to attend the lectures. Read this article to get an an impression of the current developments in the field of keto, and of the event itself.

Speaker and topic line-up

A little introduction to keto in the case you are not that familiar with it yet. Keto is short for a ketogenic diet, which is a diet very low in carbohydrates and very high in fats. Almost the opposite of what Dietitians learn during their studies. That is why bringing up this topic sometimes leads to quite some resistance. Nevertheless, in recent years interest and research into a ketogenic diet and the health effects of the presence of ketones have grown enormously. The results of a keyword analysis in Google say it all. Not only from the point of view of effective epilepsy treatment and weight loss, but also from a preventive and treatment point of view for other non-communicable diseases. During the Keto Live conference the focus lied on 5 different health disorders: cardiovascular diseases, type 1 and 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, and brain disorders such as Alzheimer's and epilepsy. Well-known names such as professor Thomas Seyfried, doctor Aseem Malhotra and psychiatrist Georgia Ede shared promising research results with the audience. To see the full line-up of speakers and talks, please visit Keto Live.

Different points for attention, same conclusion

While all presentations indicated different and specific points for attention, each speaker agreed on one particular thing: the current food pyramid (both the American and the European) still needs to undergo significant changes. That saturated fats and cholesterol would increase the risk of cardiovascular disease is quite outdated by now. The American physiologist Ancel Keys based this conclusion in 1958 on an observational study of countries where people ate little fat and where the prevalence of heart disease was lower. Despite the fact that he only studied countries that would support his theory, his conclusion has become the foundation of the current food pyramid and the current fear of fats and cholesterol. From that moment, the unnecessary fat and cholesterol phobia started to arise. Health professionals who delve into the literature and the evidence have come back to this conclusion and argue about change.

Keto as a powerful therapeutic tool for prevention and treatment

To substantiate that shared conclusion, meals that are considered healthy according to the current health guidelines were criticized with an emphasis on the high amount of sugars and carbohydrates and low amount of nutrients. Strong evidence was cited that a diet high in healthy fats and low in carbohydrates can immensely limit the increasing costs of Healthcare . Ketones that are released when following a ketogenic diet show promising therapeutic effects in various conditions. For example, consider the non-communicable disease cancer that Professor Thomas Seyfried has been researching for years and years. His studies show that it is impossible for cells in this metabolic disorder to use ketones as energy. By limiting sugar intake to a minimum during a ketogenic diet, you deprive these cells of the nutrients to activate and expand. Also, the use of a ketogenic diet in diabetes has long been known by a growing number of dietitians. The reason for this? With insulin resistance and diabetes, the blood glucose and insulin levels remain low and stable. Resulting in the need of less medication.

Ditching medicine, a holistic approach is the future

Incredibly interesting material to think about as a healthcare professional before blindly following the current guidelines. This information given, it was noticeable that only a few Dietitians were present during the 5-day conference. The majority of the target group consisted of professors, doctors, and people who were present based on personal interest. Although we all had different backgrounds, we were all busy trying to find an answer to the following question: how come we all get sicker despite the increase in advanced medical developments and the focus on healthy food?

Likely the food that is now considered healthy is not as healthy as you might think. For example, it is still not clear to me why whole-grain products are still part of the food pyramid and why some Dietitians still recommend highly processed margarine instead of butter. If you think about it, there are just no essential nutrients in it. These nutrients are even many more times present in unprocessed products such as green vegetables and grass fed butter. I strongly believe that assessing the nutritional value of a product revolves around the quality and origin of the ingredients in a food. The closer to what our ancestors ate, the better. 

In America and South Africa there is already a lot of awareness on this groundbreaking (or let’s say old) way of eating. Still, I think it is strange that so little attention to this approach has been paid during my education and it also causes feelings of mistrust. It feels like important information has been withheld, and I am basically re-starting my studies to become a Dietitian.

Anyhow, I am very curious and optimistic about what the future will bring and which new research results will be published in the area of ketogenic food. It is clear that growth and movement are happening, and that we cannot go any further this way. Luckily there is slowly more room for a holistic and preventive approach to healthcare. After all, optimum long-term health is all about identifying the root cause of a health problem and not just tackling the symptoms. I am excited to be a part of this holistic movement!