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Recipe by
Paola Cornu, RDN
, photo by
, nutritional review by
Test Kitchen
Nutrition
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Article by
Paola Cornu, RDN
, photo by
Kick off a lifetime of healthy habits through keto
Personalized Keto meal plans
+1000 delicious, fast & easy-to-follow recipes
LearnEat: A complete Keto diet guide for beginners
Grocery list builder
Go ahead, move one step to your goals
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Nowadays, it seems as if everybody knows everything about the keto diet, and no wonder, as you can easily find a bunch of information about it, (what is it, how it works, their benefits, etc).

We know there’s a ton of you may have heard already about the ketogenic diet before, that's why today we bring you 5 things you probably might not know about it.

1. The keto diet wasn’t originally developed for weight loss

The ketogenic diet was originally created nearly a century ago as a treatment for seizures in epileptic patients 🧠 (can be used in both children and adults with hard-to-control epilepsy).

It was in 1921 when the American endocrinologist, Rollin Woodyatt, noted that three water-soluble compounds (acetone, β-hydroxybutyrate, and acetoacetate (also known as ketone bodies) were produced by the liver as a result of starvation or if they followed a diet rich in fat and low in carbohydrates. 

👨🏻 Russel Wilder from the Mayo Clinic called this the “ketogenic diet” thanks to the high level of ketone bodies in the blood (ketonemia) that this diet produces.

2.​ Ketosis was first used 2,500 years ago in Ancient Greece

To the Greeks, epilepsy was a spiritual possession that was caused as a punishment by the moon goddesses, Selene and Artemis.

They called it the “Sacred Disease.”  It was considered such a bad and powerful disease that it could not be healed.

It was only until 100 years later when Hippocrates (also known as the Father of Medicine) mentioned that it probably had a natural cause, and its supposed divine origin is due to men's inexperience.

That mindset change is one of the great breakthroughs in medical history, and it quickly gave the Greeks their epilepsy cure. 🤯

Hippocrates tells the story of a man seized by epileptic convulsions in the Epidemics. He prescribed the man complete abstinence from food and drink. And shortly after, he was cured. What Hippocrates discovered was the power of ketones (which fuel the body when food runs short). 

That became our first recorded use of therapeutic ketosis.

3. The Keto diet was the most searched diet on the planet in 2021

In 2021, on Google’s annual 'Year In Search' report some of the most listed queries were related to the COVID-19 disease,  but as was expected, diets were also on the list.

“Keto” was the most-Googled food-related topic in the world, with 25.4 million searches.

Social media conversations around the Keto Diet or Ketogenic Diet have surged by more than 30% in 2021. 📈

It's not surprising, because the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a shift towards "healthy and nutritious" eating habits and diet plans. Most of the searches were related to managing obesity and weight, reducing stress, and boosting the body’s immunity... all benefits of the keto diet.

According to scientists, the keto diet not only assists in maintaining an appropriate weight but also improves overall health. ✅

4. The keto diet revival has Meryl Streep to thank

As we already know, the keto diet was first used to treat epilepsy, so the rise of anti-epileptic drugs (AEPs), and doctors’ focus from diet to drugs made the keto diet almost disappear.

We can’t really blame them – getting kids to take a pill is a lot easier than telling them to forego pizza. But luckily, the ketogenic diet returned to the mainstream in October 1994 with a premiere on NBC’s Dateline show.

The story was about Charlie Abrahams, two-year-old suffering from epilepsy. Charlie’s parents had tried everything. No drug or therapy could control it.

Charlie’s Father then stumbles on an old reference to the ketogenic diet used at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He takes Charlie there to begin therapy. And… it worked! 

To spread the word, Jim created a foundation (The Charlie Foundation for Ketogenic Therapies) to promote the diet and fund research.

He even made a movie, 1997’s called "First Do No Harm", starring Meryl Streep. 

This sets off an explosion of interest in the ketogenic diet that continues to this day.

5. Babies grow up under a ketogenic metabolism

Even if it sounds shocking, it's true that soon after birth, newborns start to produce ketone bodies about 2 to 3 days after birth, which moves them into ketosis, where they remain while breastfeeding. They use ketones and fats for energy and brain growth.

The fact is that breastfeeding is ketogenic. Breast milk is high in fat (55%), moderate in carbohydrate (39%), and low in protein (6%). This means that exclusively breastfed babies are in a state of mild ketosis. In fact, breastfed babies produce more ketone bodies than formula-fed babies.

The fact that human babies are naturally in ketosis is an inconvenient truth because it implies that ketosis (which also occurs when fasting or eating a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet) is not only a natural metabolic state for human infants, but that it’s probably beneficial too. 

Breastfed babies experience better cognitive performance, less frequent and severe infectious diseases, as well as lower rates of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), certain cancers, food allergies, asthma, types 1 and 2 diabetes, overweight and obesity, and high cholesterol.

Hope you found these interesting!