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Is the keto diet safe for children? Experts weigh in

If you are on Keto, is it a good idea for your family to feed the same way?

The popularity of the ketogenic diet is undeniable, and with this popularity comes Instagram accounts, blogs and recipes dedicated to the keto lifestyle, which is based on a very low-carbohydrate or carbohydrate-free diet plan. When a keto children's cookbook recently landed in the HuffPost newsroom, we thought – is it a good idea for kids to follow this diet?

We consulted with various nutrition experts (dieticians, graduate students and paediatricians) to find out three important things: 1

) Is it safe to treat children with keto? 2) Is it a good idea for parents to put their children on the same restricted diet that they follow? 3) How can parents best talk to their children about their restricted diet? The following we have learned:

Children and Keto: A dietary combination that has been around for decades

"The ketogenic diet was developed in the 1920s to produce a specific type of epilepsy (called refractory To treat epilepsy). in children for whom medication was not effective, "said Alyssa Pike, registered dietitian and nutritional communications director at the International Food Information Council Foundation . "Apart from this special circumstance, which is recommended by a doctor, children are not advised to use the keto diet."

Pike added that no population-wide dietary guidelines recommend ketogenic diets for children "or suggest such a diet would be beneficial to a child's health." Citing the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans A 144-page document that does not include the term keto or ketogen, Pike pointed out that none of the three recommended eating anything that would put someone into ketosis the process by which your body becomes fat burns instead of carbohydrates to gain energy.

"The best nutritional counseling suggests that children eat a varied diet that provides them with the right amount of all the nutrients (macro and micro) their growing body needs."

– Alyssa Pike, RD

Pike also cited the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations 2012 which "their average beg dietary requirements for glycemic carbohydrates at a level that prevents ketosis in children and adults, "as well as the American Heart Association's Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Children ; Guidelines that, if followed, would not turn children into ketosis.

Keto does not provide the macronutrients that children need for a healthy diet.

There are big differences between the recommended amounts of macronutrients, also known as carbohydrates, fat and protein, in dietetic keto diet. [19659022] Moreover, the highly popular keto diet, which is now ubiquitous, differs significantly from the established treatment of difficult-to-treat epilepsy in children. The latter is mainly " a prescribed diet with close medical supervision which is designed precisely to induce ketosis while providing adequate nutrition to prevent malnutrition and promote normal growth and development in children," said Carol Kirkpatrick, a Ph. D. and Voluntary Science and Nutrition expert of the American Heart Association .

"A ketogenic diet that is followed by adults – most commonly for weight loss and more recently for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, but also by some athletes as part of their exercise regimen – is usually not as accurately calculated as a ketogenic diet for children with drug-resistant epilepsy, "said Kirkpatrick. "The main focus [of the adult keto diet] is on reducing carbohydrate intake to 20-50 grams per day and limiting protein intake to 1.0-1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight – or on an ideal body weight if overweight to induce ketosis. "

 ] Many keto-friendly foods - such as steak with butter - do not provide a picky eater with all the nutrients needed for a growing body.

Many keto-friendly foods – such as a steak with butter – do not provide a picky eater with all the nutrients needed for a growing body.

In terms of the composition of macronutrients for today's diet, this is 70-80% of the daily energy of fat, about 15% of the daily energy from protein and 5% of the daily energy from carbohydrates.

"This breakdown of macronutrients does not match the recommended macronutrient composition for children aged 4 to 18 years according to the American dietary guidelines for the period 2015 to 2020: 25 to 35% of total daily calories from fat, 10 to 30% of Total daily energy from protein and 45-65% of your total carbohydrate total energy, "said Kirkpatrick.

The keto diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies and other health problems.

There are potential adverse effects of a ketogenic diet, including elevated levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as increased risk of kidney stones, "said Kirkpatrick. "There is also a risk of bone mineral density reduction if the ketogenic diet is followed for longer than two years."

Jonathan Valdez, owner of Genki Nutrition and New York State Spokesman The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics cited a study conducted in 2013 on the efficacy and safety of ketogenic nutrition Chinese children the frequent reports of gastrointestinal disturbances, food denial and hypoproteinemia (low protein content) found blood levels).

"It seems that keto dieting is not necessarily the best diet for children, unless it is absolutely necessary for the control of seizures," said Valdez.

Kirkpatrick found that children's carbohydrate intake was high at 20-50 grams per day (compared to the recommended daily dose of 130 g) "limiting the intake of foods that provide fuel for energy and cognitive functions, as well as food rich in vitamins and minerals needed for growth and development. "

Rapid growth, bone deposition, hormonal changes, metabolic rate, and a host of other differences cause children to respond to the diet in very different ways than adults. "

– Dr. Christopher F. Bolling

"Children should be offered nutritious carbohydrate foods, including starchy and non-starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, beans and dairy to meet their carbohydrate needs," said Kirkpatrick. "Carbohydrate foods that are lower in nutritional value and should be minimally contained include sugar-fortified foods, sugary drinks and highly processed or refined carbohydrate foods."

"Best dietary counseling advises that children eat a varied diet, which she offers with the right amount of all the nutrients – macro and micro – needed by her growing body, "said Pike. "This includes a wide range of fruits, vegetables, cereals, half of which should be whole grains, and dairy products. Many are banned or severely restricted for ketogenic nutrition.

She cited a study that identifies health problems observed in children after ketosis for the control of seizures, including micro- and macronutrient deficiencies and side effects such as constipation, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Unless otherwise prescribed, it is probably not a good idea to give your child a restricted diet.

If You Follow a Certain Diet, Such as Keto, Paleo, or Vegan Although it may be convenient to prepare the same food for the whole family, including your children, it is important to be careful.

"Children can eat similar foods that their parents eat when their parents follow a special diet," Kirkpatrick said. "However, parents should offer a generally healthy dietary pattern that teaches balance and a healthy relationship with food. Parents should offer a variety of nutrient-rich foods that are high in protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates, and promote the healthy growth and development of their children. "

Dr. Christopher F. Bolling, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics on obesity, noted that there are significant physiological differences between children and adolescents compared to adults.

"Rapid growth, bone deposition, hormonal changes, metabolic rate, and a host of other differences make children react to nutrition in very different ways than adults," said Bolling. "Although they are in many ways more resilient than adults, [kids] will often be the first to show the effects of stress or deficiency."

Bolling added that there are also behavioral concerns when children take the same restricted diet as their parents.

"It's one thing for an adult to opt for an unproven diet," Bolling said. "How much choice does a minor really have? They can be forced or ashamed of a multitude of unhealthy decisions they do not make. In addition, adolescents are much more susceptible to psychological problems such as anxiety, depression and especially eating disorders. It is important to equip them with opportunities for healthy eating habits to avoid malpractice such as overly restrictive diets or excessive exercise.

If you talk to your children about a limited diet that you follow, you should focus on the health benefits.

"It is important for a child of all ages to recognize that some foods are more nutrient dense than others, but this does not mean that we should create this culture of negative food conversations," said Valdez. "This may later lead to eating disorders and other problems."

Pike recommends that parents consult a doctor as a registered dietitian before talking to their children about a restrictive diet they follow, since these are expert counseling advice this sensitive topic.

"It is important for parents to be aware that children are watching and being influenced by their parent's relationship to food including the negative language sometimes used for certain foods. Pike said. "The tone of these conversations can affect how children see this food. There is a fine line between labeling a food as & # 39; good & # 39; or & # 39; bad & # 39; and the subsequent labeling, whether you eat this food or not.

In order for parents who follow a restricted diet to lose weight, Kirkpatrick recommends that they avoid negative expressions of food and body in front of the children and instead focus on an overall healthy lifestyle.

"Children are very influential, and if they focus too much on dietary restrictions or eating habits in general, it may increase the risk of eating disorders and body dysmorphisms, which can cause them to have problems with their diet and body well into adulthood have, "said Kirkpatrick.

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