Does Keto Affect Your Gut Health?

Does Keto Affect Your Gut Health?

The ketogenic diet is a popular eating plan that involves significantly cutting carbs while increasing your intake of heart-healthy fats.

By depriving your body of carbs — your primary energy source — you’re forced to start burning fat instead. The keto diet has been shown to benefit cholesterol levels, blood sugar control, weight loss, and brain health (1Trusted Source).

Still, you might wonder whether this diet can affect other aspects of your health, including digestion and gut health.

This article examines how the keto diet affects gut health.

Potential downsides
Several studies indicate that the keto diet may harm your digestion in the following ways.

May be lower in fiber
The keto diet eliminates high-carb foods like fruits, starchy vegetables, grains, and legumes.

Many of these foods are also high in fiber, an essential nutrient for digestion.

Fiber passes through your digestive tract slowly, helping maintain bowel regularity (2Trusted Source).

Insufficient fiber intake could increase your risk of constipation (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).

High fiber intake is also thought to protect against several digestive disorders, including hemorrhoids, stomach ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and diverticulitis (5Trusted Source).

Enjoying a variety of high-fiber, low-carb foods like non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruits can help you meet your fiber needs while on a keto diet.

May alter your gut microbiome
The microorganisms in your digestive tract are collectively known as the gut microbiome (6Trusted Source).

It’s thought to play a central role in several aspects of health, including digestion, immune function, mental health, and disease prevention (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).

Some research notes that the keto diet could damage the concentration and composition of your gut bacteria.

One 6-month study in 217 people linked a high-fat diet to several unfavorable gut changes, including increased inflammation and reduced beneficial fatty acids (9Trusted Source).

Another study in 23 children with epilepsy showed that 3 months of the keto diet damaged gut microbiome composition, compared with a control group (10Trusted Source).

However, other studies give inconsistent results.

For example, a small study revealed that 1 week of the keto diet reduced seizure frequency in infants by 50%.

It also reduced concentrations of proteobacteria, a form of harmful, pathogenic gut bacteria that include Escherichia, Salmonella, and Vibrio (11Trusted Source).

Because of these conflicting findings, more research is needed to evaluate how the ketogenic diet affects your gut microbiome.

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