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  • Writer's pictureTanya Milin

Keto Diet and Chronic Pain

Updated: Aug 15, 2019

More than 20% of people in the US have one kind of chronic pain or the other. While it is normal to have pain once in a while, any pain that lasts longer than an acute injury, like fibromyalgia or arthritis is called chronic pain. Treatment of chronic pain could range from using painkiller medications to adopting some other techniques like yoga.

However, recent studies have proven that certain diets can help reduce the severity or frequency of pain; the Keto diet is one of such diet. How does it work? Read on to learn how keto diet helps reduce pain.

Ketogenic Diet and Pain

Ketogenic diet or keto diet, as it is commonly called, has been a popular diet often used for weight loss. It is a high-fat, low-fat diet that triggers ketosis – a natural metabolic process of the body that influences some natural pathways in the body. While the diet is great for naturally shedding some quick pounds, it also has some other amazing health benefits. And there has been some evidence that ketogenic diet also helps with various pain-related disorders.

Keto and Migraine Headaches

When we talk about ketogenic diet and pain, a widely studied topic we cannot neglect is the link between the diet and reduced pain from migraine headaches. In a study where female migraine patients were tested for the effectiveness of keto on migraine, the result showed that the participants experienced reduced migraine headache after one month on the diet compared to people who were placed on normal diet.

Even though the patients experienced a regression a bit when they first started the diet, it was noticed that reduced pain became evidence when they enter into ketosis. This supports the theory that migraine headaches are a result of energy metabolism problems in the brain. By helping to alter energy metabolism, it becomes beneficial for reducing migraine pain.

Keto Increases Adenosine Levels

Adenosine is a neuromodulator that has been proved to be effective in helping to reduce pain levels – hugely involved in the success of acupuncture against pain. By activating the adenosine pathway, high-intensity exercise has also been found to reduce neuropathic pain significantly. Ketogenic diet is well known for increasing adenosine levels in the body, therefore presents a good potential pathway for controlling pain.

Keto Influences NLRP3 Inflammasome

The NLRP3 inflammasome is an essential part of your body’s innate immune system, helping the body fight against external invaders. When the NLRP3 inflammasome is activated, it is involved in the body’s pain pathways, particularly CNS mediated and neuropathic pain.

Fortunately, when the body is in ketosis, it produces the beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) ketone body, which actively inhibits the NLRP3 inflammasome pathway. That way, it helps to reduce some NLRP3 mediated diseases like Lupus and Arthritis, as well as some chronic pains like knee swelling, joint necrosis, and synovia inflammation.

Bottom Line

Currently, there is an opioid epidemic and medication overdose in the US and have caused many deaths in the last few years. And these are the same medications that are often prescribed for chronic pain. However, the low-carb diet, keto diet, can help with chronic pain.

It does not only help reduce metabolic syndrome and some chronic diseases; keto diet has also been found to be strong inhibitors of pain.

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