Natural Ketosis Blog Archive

January' 2015

Why Avoiding Sugar Benefits Brain Health

Sugar is currently the focus of what is wrong with the nation’s diet. Apart from the ‘obvious’ reasons why sugar in large amount is bad for health - eg: obesity, type 2 diabetes, etc, sugar in the diet has also been linked to brain health and ageing. With growing levels of individuals being diagnosed with a form of dementia (there are more than 100 forms of dementia), the message of what can be done to prevent and manage dementia is a common topic. So, what can people do to change their lifestyles and nutrition to have a positive impact on their health?


Current Sugar Intake

Figures published in 2014 showed that in the UK, the average individual intake of added sugar was 11% of their dietary intake, with children aged 4-10 and 11-18 averaging 14.7% and 15.6% of food energy respectively. Earlier this year, 5 toddlers in Scotland were diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, the first time this condition was diagnosed at such a young age.

Sugar and the Brain

So how does the sugar in your diet affect your brain health in the short and long term? Although there is no definitive consensus on what causes Alzheimer’s, studies are showing a link between having high levels of sugar and their effect on brain function.

The brain’s primary source of fuel is glucose (sugar). However, if there is an underlying impaired carbohydrate metabolism, then issues can arise. A striking test shows that the rate of glucose uptake in individuals with Alzheimer’s declines quite markedly. Therefore the theory goes that if the brain is unable to effectively use glucose (which is leading to a decline in brain function due to decreased sugar available), then why not use an alternative fuel such as ketones?

Alternative Brain Fuels

It is a known fact that the brain can use alternative fuels for normal function. Ketones are a preferred brain energy source and studies show that these are a more efficient source of energy. A myriad of studies are looking at how a decrease in sugar intake contributes to improved cognition and memory functions, especially during the ageing process.


Whilst academic research specifically looking at ketogenic diets and their impacts on Alzheimer’s disease are few (however a few key studies are in the pipeline and are currently recruiting on both sides of the Atlantic), there is a lot of anecdotal evidence from other areas of neurology as well as from personal experiences who have seen an improvement in their condition.

This positive impact of altering the brain’s fuel function can also be seen in other areas of brain health. Managing epilepsy through a ketogenic diet is a recognised medical approach both in the UK and the USA. There has also been interest in cognitive improvement in ageing as well as in Parkinson’s Disease and in the management of brain carcinomas and improvement in brain injury outcomes.

So what are you waiting for? Feel free to get in touch with us. We’ll answer any questions you may have and help you make an informed decision.



Benton, D., Ruffin, M., Lassel, T., Nabb, S., Messaoudi, M., Vinoy, S., Desor, D. and Lang, V. (2003). The delivery rate of dietary carbohydrates affects cognitive performance in both rats and humans. Psychopharmacology, 166(1), pp.86--90.

Cunnane, S., Nugent, S., Roy, M., Courchesne-Loyer, A., Croteau, E., Tremblay, S., Castellano, A., Pifferi, F., Bocti, C., Paquet, N. and others, (2011). Brain fuel metabolism, aging, and Alzheimer’s disease. Nutrition, 27(1), pp.3--20.

D’Anci, K., Watts, K., Kanarek, R. and Taylor, H. (2009). Low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets. Effects on cognition and mood. Appetite, 52(1), pp.96--103.

Fischer, K., Colombani, P., Langhans, W. and Wenk, C. (2002). Carbohydrate to protein ratio in food and cognitive performance in the morning. Physiology & behavior, 75(3), pp.411--423.

Gonzalez-Lima, F., Barksdale, B. and Rojas, J. (2013). Mitochondrial respiration as a target for neuroprotection and cognitive enhancement. Biochemical pharmacology.

Krikorian, R., Shidler, M., Dangelo, K., Couch, S., Benoit, S. and Clegg, D. (2012). Dietary ketosis enhances memory in mild cognitive impairment. Neurobiology of aging, 33(2), pp.425--19.

Papanikolaou, Y., Palmer, H., Binns, M., Jenkins, D. and Greenwood, C. (2006). Better cognitive performance following a low-glycaemic-index compared with a high-glycaemic-index carbohydrate meal in adults with type 2 diabetes. Diabetologia, 49(5), pp.855--862.

Small, G., Silverman, D., Siddarth, P., Ercoli, L., Miller, K., Lavretsky, H., Wright, B., Bookheimer, S., Barrio, J. and Phelps, M. (2006). Effects of a 14-day healthy longevity lifestyle program on cognition and brain function. The American journal of geriatric psychiatry, 14(6), pp.538--545.

Starr, V. and Convit, A. (2007). Diabetes, sugar-coated but harmful to the brain. Current opinion in pharmacology, 7(6), pp.638--642.

Van der Auwera, I., Wera, S., Van Leuven, F. and Henderson, S. (2005). A ketogenic diet reduces amyloid beta 40 and 42 in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Nutrition & metabolism, 2(1), p.28.

Whitmer, R. (2007). Type 2 diabetes and risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. Current neurology and neuroscience reports, 7(5), pp.373--380.

Yaffe, K., Lindquist, K., Schwartz, A., Vitartas, C., Vittinghoff, E., Satterfield, S., Simonsick, E., Launer, L., Rosano, C., Cauley, J. and others, (2011). Advanced glycation end product level, diabetes, and accelerated cognitive aging. Neurology, 77(14), pp.1351--1356.

Can a Change in Diet Change the Foods You Crave?

We all love to eat food that we know is bad for our health and waistlines. According to the latest BBC Horizon programme this month, the population can be divided into three categories based on their eating habits. So whether it’s ice cream, a slice of chocolate cake or a scone or all the items on a high tea menu we all know these are not the best choices for health. However we tend to prefer to eat these items over a bowl of salad leaves. Let’s face it, we’ve all experienced this! So, losing weight can feel like you’re depriving yourself, albeit for a good cause, but what happens when you are allowed to eat these items once again? If cravings are the issue, then why not address this by changing your palate?


A study published in September 2014, showed that when individuals start to change their dietary regimen by basing their food choices on items containing dietary fibre and protein, then there is a positive shift in their reward systems i.e. they do not crave these items any more. By completely avoiding processed food items, then the palate will also change which in turn results in a carving for items that are naturally healthier and better for you. Once the craving goes away, then sustaining your weight loss will become easier and here at Natural Ketosis we see this on a daily basis.

The Science So Far

Due to the nature and implications of investigating the effect of food and the different reward systems that it activates in our brains, the number of studies looking at the effects of food on human subjects are few and far in between. Hence the data that we have on the psychological implications of food consumption are, for the most part, based on animal studies.

Of the studies conducted on this issue, revealed that when these animals were offered a choice of cocaine, morphine or sugar (in the form of oreo biscuits), these animals always went for the biscuit. What does this say about the processed sugar and carbohydrate effect on the brain reward systems?

Another study showed that excessive sugar consumption led to the animals experiencing a state similar to that shown to morphine and nicotine dependence. Yet another study showed that after a period of abstinence from sugar, these animals exhibited a greater intake of sugar, due to their previous deprived state.

Current Eating Advice

The current healthy eating guidelines advise that to get the best nutrition, one needs to ensure that 50% of each meal is made up of a variety of carbohydrates. However, whilst these items are not usually associated with being sugary, the biological digestion of these items turns them into sugar and are recognised as such by the brain. An interesting study showed that the brain’s liking and wanting mechanisms were higher after consuming a meal consisting of mostly carbohydrates compared to consuming a high protein meal. This want/liking mechanism operated independently of total energy intake. In other terms, although subjects ate a big meal consisting of carbohydrates, they were still hungry afterwards and wanted more, unlike the subjects that ate a protein-based meal.

Whilst reducing the amount of sugary items consumed in the form of biscuits, confectionary, fizzy drinks etc may help to reduce your cravings, this is not enough if you are going to get rid of those constant hunger feelings and the need for a quick energy fix in the afternoon (usually in the form of a biscuit or a chocolate bar or the ideal opportunity to go for a high tea). If you really want to get rid of those constant hunger cravings, then a rearranging of the macronutrient intake in one’s diet is required to lessen not only these cravings -  but also the feeling of still feeling hungry even if a meal has just been consumed.

So how can we help you change the foods you crave?

On the Natural Ketosis programme we embrace those carbohydrates that are based on dietary fibre rather than simple and/or complex carbohydrates. Protein in the diet is also critical as our bodies cannot store protein. Hence, we need a constant supply each day. Our bodies require protein to build muscle and repair any internal damage. Studies keep showing that a high protein diet helps to reduce hunger and control cravings as you feel satiated for longer.

Therefore the Natural Ketosis way is about being healthy and making the right choices.


Avena, N.M., Rada, P. & Hoebel, B.G., 2007. Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neuroscience and biobehavioral reviews, 32(1), pp.20–39.

Deckersbach, R., Das, S., Urban, L., Salinardi, T., Batra, P., Rodman, A., Arulpragasam, A., Dougherty, D. and Roberts, S. 2014. Pilot randomized trial demonstrating reversal of obesity-related abnormalities in reward system responsivity to food cues with a behavioral intervention.Nutrition & Diabetes, 4(e129).

Student-faculty research suggests Oreos can be compared to drugs of abuse in lab rats. 2013.

Colantuoni, C. et al., 2002. Evidence that intermittent, excessive sugar intake causes endogenous opioid dependence.Obesity research, 10(6), pp.478–488.

Avena, N.M., Long, K.A. & Hoebel, B.G., 2005. Sugar-dependent rats show enhanced responding for sugar after abstinence: evidence of a sugar deprivation effect. Physiology & behavior, 84(3), pp.359–362.

Born, J., Martens, M. & Lemmens, S., 2013. Protein v. carbohydrate intake differentially affects liking-and wanting-related brain signalling. British Journal of. Available at:

What’s your 2015 resolution?

As the decorations fade and the weather gets colder, we all start looking into ways of enforcing that New Year resolution of being a healthier better version of ourselves over the coming months. So, what are the options available for you this January 2015?


Over the past few weeks, there has been an increasing interest in the health benefits associated with a whole foods approach to dieting and lifestyle. This has also been aided by the ‘revelation/revolution’ of the fact that sugar is the enemy - something we here at Natural Ketosis have always sustained to be the case.  


So, if you are still unsure as to what approach you should be taking towards a healthier you, here are some points you might want to consider:


1. Suitability


At this time of year there are many weight loss companies fighting for your attention whether it be on the radio or on those annoying adverts posted on your Facebook feed. They all state to be the answer to your problems. However, dig a little deeper and you see that they offer a solution either based on shakes or based on pills. So ask yourself if you really want to start your health transformation by ingesting man-made chemicals?


2. Sustainability


Whilst going on a “detox” for a couple of weeks will help you shed those few extra pounds due to a happy festive period, have you ever wondered if there was something out there to help you maintain the new you throughout the year without the yo-yoing weight side effect? Studies continue to show that nutrition coming from real food together with a re-adjustment of the macronutrient content, weight maintenance and health can be achieved [1,2,3].


3. No Pain, No Gain


Whilst this is a common phrase heard throughout the year with regards to weight loss, starving yourself of food is not the answer. Again it is all about making the right food choices and by correctly addressing the macronutrient content of your diet. By minimising the amount of carbohydrates and increasing the amount of protein and good fat in your diet, weight loss and maintenance can be achieved long term [4] - not to mention that you will feel fuller [5] and have better energy levels as your system is not suffering from “sugar-crashes” all the time.


So, are you curious as to how all this macronutrient re-arrangement actually helps you lose weight and maintain it?


Well the answer is simple. Weight loss and maintenance is not about eating less and moving more, but rather it is about maintaining your hormones balanced, especially insulin. Insulin levels fluctuate depending on the amount of carbohydrates you consume. The more you consume, the higher your insulin levels will be. High insulin levels turn off your fat burning capacity and induce your fat cells to take up all the extra carbohydrates i.e. your fat cells get bigger.


To make sure that you are using your stored fat for energy, you need to ensure that your insulin levels are stable. This is simply done by minimising the amount of carbohydrates in your diet. It is at this point that people think all carbohydrates are bad and created equally. However stabilising insulin levels is about choosing the right types of carbohydrates NOT avoiding them.


Once insulin is stabilised, the body will turn on its fat burning capabilities thereby meeting its energy requirements from stored fat rather than carbohydrates. By utilising fat for energy you will realise your appetite diminishes, your energy levels increase and your mood improves.


So what are you waiting for? Why not make 2015 the year you decided to go low-carb?




1. Boden G, Sargrad K, Homko C, Mozzoli M, Stein TP. 2005. Effect of a low-carbohydrate diet on appetite, blood glucose levels, and insulin resistance in obese patients with type 2 diabetes. Annals of Internal Medicine. 142: 403–411


2. Daly M.E, Paisey R, Millward B.A et al. 2006. Short-term effects of severe dietary carbohydrate-restriction advice in type 2 diabetes-a randomized controlled trial. Diabetic Medicine. 23: 15-20.


3. Dyson P.A., Beatty S., & Matthews D.R. 2007. A low-carbohydrate diet is more effective in reducing body weight than healthy eating in both diabetic and non-diabetic subjects. Diabetic Medicine. 24: 1430-1435.


4. Gardner C.D., Kiazand A., Alhassan S., Kim S., Stafford R.S., Balise R.R., Kraemer H.C. & King A.C. 2007. Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women: the A TO Z Weight Loss Study: a randomized trial. The Journal of the American Medical Association. 297 (7): 969-977.


5. Halton T.L. & Hu F.B. 2004. The Effects of High Protein Diets on Thermogenesis, Satiety and Weight Loss: A Critical Review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 23 (5): 373-385.