Table of a variety of foods (tomatoes, avocado, salt, eggs) to showcase the keto diet

Keto and Gut Health

Keto.....Good or Bad?


What is Keto? 

The ketogenic diet (KD) is a high fat, very low carbohydrate diet traditionally used in a clinical setting for childhood epilepsy. In a state of ketosis, your body releases ketones into your blood stream for fuel.


What does this have to do with my gut?

Due to the carbohydrate restriction, the ketogenic diet lacks plant diversity that contain probiotics, prebiotics, phytonutrients and polyphenols which are vital for gut health. It is very difficult to eat enough fiber to promote healthy gut bacteria. Your gut bacteria feed off of the fibrous compounds in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, etc. Without this plant diversity, nutrients your gut microbiome will not function optimally.


Cellular effect on the gut

The ketogenic diet does not affect the diversity of alpha cells within the gut microbiome, but it does affect beta-cell diversity thus influencing functional composition. Firmicutes, bacteriodetes, and actinobacteria are all strains that are directly altered by the KD. Studies show people adhering to this diet have decreased abundance of actinobacteria and firmicutes and an increased abundance of bacteroidetes and proteobacteria. In addition, E. rectale, a major butyrate-producing species held within the gut decreased. Butyrate is important for overall health and low fecal levels are associated with IBD and advanced colorectal adenoma. The KD lowers butyrate-producing bacteria and thus has a direct negative effect on gut health. Butyrate is an essential source of energy and increases intestinal barrier function.

Functional effect on the gut

During the KD your subsystems and pathways are also altered. The group that experiences the most change is carbohydrate metabolism which reduces fructooligosaccharides and raffinose utilization, sucrose utilization, glycogen metabolism, lacto-N-biose I and galactose-n-biose metabolic pathways, and fermentation of lactate. This is in part due to the decrease in bifidobacterium and the increase in Escherichia.


The cellular and functional effects can all lead to a lack of diversity

A lack of diversity could ultimately lead to dysbiosis!


  • Importance of probiotics
  • Prevent/treat intestinal disorders
  • Stimulates immunity
  • Prevent infection
  • Improve digestion and absorption of nutrients
  • Offsets the imbalance of bacteria in the gut
  • Inhibits the enzyme associated with colorectal cancer

Have any more questions about KETO? You will want to hear this story of what EXTREME DIETING can do to your body!



Resource: Newell C. Bomhof MR. Reimer RA, Hittel DS, Rho JM, Shearer J. Ketogenic diet modifies the gut microbiota in a murine model of autism spectrum disorder.

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