It’s coming up to my two-year anniversary since I started on a ketogenic diet. I thought the timing was perfect to share what I have learnt, the good, the bad and the opportunity this dietary strategy offers. Over the last two years I have collected data on my spirometry, blood work including blood glucose and ketone levels. I have had cytokine profiles tests all in the name of monitoring inflammation. But before I go into what I have found, it’s important to know why I have taken the journey down the ketosis road.
Over the last two years I have been in communication with world renowned respiratory disease researchers as well as those leading the charge into the use of ketosis to manage chronic disease. You don’t have to have a degree to come to the simple conclusion systemic inflammation is what researchers want to suppress.
Chronic inflammation is now being recognised as the major driver in so many diseases and the race is on to find a way to treat it. Sadly, due to predominately funding issues, respiratory research is lagging behind other diseases. The key inflammasome NLRP3, a driver to many diseases including respiratory disease is the target of researchers.
While respiratory researchers struggle to find a safe pharmaceutical solution to this problem, researchers in other fields are getting closer to this holy grail. What has become apparent to me during my dive into nutritional strategies and respiratory research is it’s likely the cure/major breakthrough in respiratory disease will possibly come from researchers of another disease state.
Indeed, if you listen to my podcast with Professor Peter Barnes and Dr Dominic D’Agostino on this very topic you’ll soon understand a major breakthrough in respiratory disease could come from a collaboration of these two outstanding researchers. However, funding to carry out the studies required to investigate the application of ketosis to respiratory disease is unlikely.
In the time I have been using the ketogenic diet as a strategy to help manage my COPD, I have seen a significant improvement in my symptoms and quality of life. However, telling you how I feel and showing the evidence which supports my improved status are two different things.
Pulmonary function testing (PFT) is used not only to diagnose respiratory disease, it can be used to monitor the progression of the disease. When I compare my PFT’s since being diagnosed with COPD seven years ago you can see an interesting pattern. Whilst eating what would be deemed to be a healthy diet my PFT’s remained constant. I competed in Ironman events and marathons but no matter how fit I was my PFT’s wouldn’t shift. That’s not to say the exercise wasn’t improving my ‘symptoms’, it was, but not my PFT’s.
At the beginning of 2016 I started trying different dietary approaches to manage my disease. I started off following a paleo type diet, reducing my carbs and sugar, and processed foods. By October 2016 I was using a ketogenic diet and was noticing a positive change in how I felt. By April 2017 after 7 months on the ketogenic diet I went to my local hospital to have PFT and exercise stress testing carried out. This was the turning point for me as these tests showed a significant improvement to my FEV1 result and less oxygen desaturation under stress. Two weeks after these tests were carried out I ran the London marathon recording my personal best time.
One positive PFT result is by no means conclusive, so in July this year while in high range ketosis I went back to the same respiratory clinic for more pulmonary function testing. This time I wanted to see if I could replicate my 2017 tests by using a double dose of the HVMN ketone ester. For those of you who don’t know what a ketone ester is, simply, it is a liquid dose of a ketones which can put you in high range ketosis within 30 minutes. Click here for an article on my previous experience with ketone esters.
When I received the results of my PFT’s it brought a smile to my face. This time my results recorded were my best since being diagnosed with COPD. When you consider COPD is a progressive disease the 2017 and 2018 tests while in ketosis are significant.
The question is what has changed? In my uneducated opinion – it’s all about inflammation. My blood results since starting the ketogenic diet have showed a continual reduction in my inflammation markers. If you told any respiratory researcher a severe COPD patient had a CRP (marker of inflammation) of 1, they would be shocked. A common trait of a patient with a chronic inflammatory disease is a high CRP blood result – over 5 is considered high.
It is my opinion in relation to respiratory disease you cannot repair the structural damage to our lungs, but you can significantly reduce the systemic inflammation which drives the disease. The main ketone body produced when on a ketogenic diet – beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) has been shown in studies to suppress the NLRP3 inflammasome, a major driver in respiratory disease.
We now have a supplement available for sale which has the potential to improve the quality of life in respiratory patients. Unfortunately, at this stage the cost of this ketone ester makes it inaccessible to the average patient. That aside and given the fact BHB is formed naturally in the body, research into BHB as a treatment option for respiratory disease is a must.
Over the last two years I have spent a lot of time and money on observing and testing the role a ketogenic diet on my COPD. I have now reached the point as a patient with limited resources where I cannot test anything else. In the last 20+ years little has changed in how we treat COPD. Respiratory researchers have a focus on pharmaceutical interventions, as much of their funding is sourced from pharmaceutical companies.
At the time of writing this article there are 51 COPD studies on the NIH website and not one in relation to nutrition. While I have found a strategy, which has significantly improved my quality of life, my heart breaks for the many who are suffering far more than they need to be. Until such time as healthcare professionals and researchers in the respiratory space start taking nutrition seriously the status quo will continue.
We need our respiratory professionals to start looking outside the box, to be ground breakers. A glimpse back through research papers show the potential of specific dietary strategies and their effects on pulmonary patients. These studies have been either forgotten or ignored. Question is will anyone ever take up the running?
Despite what some have said when I first wrote about the ketogenic diet, I’m still here, I haven’t died or developed cardiovascular disease. In fact, I’m thriving. See the thing is with a nutritional strategy, if you are not doing well on it you can simply stop. You don’t actually have to wait for clinical trials which can take years.
There are a growing number of registered dieticians who are well educated in using either low carbohydrate, high fat or ketogenic diets. A patient could potentially liaise with their doctor and dietician to safely and effectively implement these dietary changes. Once a patient understands the types of foods and quantities which can be eaten they can continue managing their diet themselves.
25 responses to “The Ketogenic Cure?”
I would love to try this Ketogenic Diet you are on…is it published anywhere? I’m hopeless at working out diets for myself so go on shakes instead.. hope you can help….thank you…
Hi Dianne, this is a great resource -https://www.ketonutrition.org/
Also work with a dietician who is experience in this type of diet. Depending on you location, you may find someone on the link.
Did you find what you are looking for as far as keto diet? Look up Dr.Ken D. Berry on Youtube. He also has a Facebook site.
Congratulations, Mr. Russell Winwood. You are a great inspiration to all other COPD sufferers.
Thank you Marie.
This gives me hope. Can you recommend a book or tool to help me with this diet because ive tried it in the past and couldnt do it . it was so confusing to me.
Hi Ellen. This site is a good one stop shop.
My husband and I started the keto diet 2 weeks ago to help us with weight loss. Within a week of this diet I noticed my COPD symptoms improve dramatically. I’m 54 years old and never smoked a day in my life but my asthma has progressed to COPD. As the disease worsened my energy level was dropping and the weight kept piling on. The nasty snow ball effect. Now I feel so encouraged that my life is about to change in such a positive way! I feel great and both my husband and I wake up so full of energy that we are starting to exercise. I have an appointment with my respirologist in a couple months and I will definitely be encouraging him to spread the word to his patients to try the keto diet! It works better than when I’m on prednisone and NO side effects! Doctors definitely need to be more aware of the effects of nutrition in the management of disease. I wish I had known about this diet 40 years ago. My wish is for word of mouth to spread this information to anyone who can benefit.
Great to hear your success story Lisa. Keep spreading the word.
Stumbled across a partial Keto diet while reading W.G. Miller, How I Reversed My Moms COPD. He partially seems to have used it (knowingly or not) alongside a regime of vitamins and minerals which I’ve adopted, such as Preteoliylic enziimes (Im using Serrapeptase ) and NAC. and much more. He has tried to address the inflammatory hurdlers too with these. I’m having surprisingly good results. But I’m further inspired by you and how far you’ve come! One of the things that befuddles me is the recommended COPD medical advice to avoid dairy contradicting the Keto diet. Have I missed something? Christine Weepers
Hi Christine. I’m pleased your doing well on the ketogenic diet. Diary is an individual choice, some people report a build up of mucus and increased coughing. Personally I only have cream and cheese when it comes to diary, mainly due to the content of carbs and sugar in most milks. Bottom line is, if diary works for you then go for it and if it doesn’t then avoid it.
How long i can be on kato diet?
I have been using g it for over 2 years. I think cycling from a low carbohydrate diet into a ketogenic diet every 2 – 3 weeks can be a good strategy for COPD and other respiratory diseases.
Hi Mary Lou. Best tips for using the ketogenic diet would be to make sure you have your macros right, this is crucial for the diet to work. It’s important to stay hydrated and to use electrolytes if you are feeling flat. You should be checking you blood glucose and ketone levels to make sure you are in ketosis. This is a great resource from one of the most knowledgable scientist in ketogenic diets – https://www.ketonutrition.org
Coughing started last summer producing thick mucus, greenish tint to clear. I tried prednisone and antibiotics, but no change. X-rays are negative, heart lungs and blood and serum chemistries all are normal. I have lung calcification from childhood bout with histoplasmosis. I am 75 years old and retired.My current doctor directed me to totalcureherbsfoundation .c om which I purchase the COPD herbal remedies from them ,they are located in Johannesburg, the herbal treatment has effectively reduce all my symptoms totally, am waiting to complete the 15 weeks usage because they guaranteed me total cure.
I’ve just been diagnosed with COPD and prescribed ATROVENT… have experienced a terrible response from one dose, flu symptoms including persistent headache, nausea… etc
I can’t imagine living life feeling like this. What have others experience been? Is there an alternative?
Life style adjustments such as diet and exercise a long with taking your meds as prescribed can lead to a better quality of life.
Interesting article and I’m sure going to give it a try. Due to some unfortunate life choices, I’ve developed severe emphysema. I work out regularly and on most days don’t even need the chairlift to get upstairs, yay! Problem is I get rather short of breath when doing cardio at moderate intensity, so maybe replacing carbs with fats might help there. As long as I don’t lose weight, I can’t imagine any (lasting) negative effects.
One thing that grinds my gears though, there’s a comment praising an online snake-oil peddler promising a cure for copd, I mean really? Isn’t this comment section moderated at all? Looks like said comment has been up for months :'(
Hope the ketogenic diet goes well for you. I can’t find the comment your referring to but when I do it will be deleted. Thanks for your feedback
I am 72 years old. In 1992 I was diagnosed with moderate to severe COPD/emphysema and chronic bronchitis. I have been on continual care from my pulmonary doctor. I am on home oxygen and I’ve been told to use it whenever I sleep or whenever my legs are moving as my oxygen drops to 87. I have had three PFT.
The first two showed moderate COPD.
In July of 2019 I started the keto diet to lose weight. As of this writing I have dropped 50 pounds. I’ve noticed that it is much easier to breathe. The elephant is no longer sitting on my chest. I have CFS and Fibromyalgia. I’ve noticed that the symptoms are gone. I am hoping that the diseases are gone too.
In January 2020 I had my third PFT. The pulmonologist assured me emphatically that there is no emphysema in my lungs I am still in a state of disbelief, but I saw the test results myself and they had my name on them.
I have lived for 28 years believing I would die of emphysema like my father. It’s like a ton of bricks have been lifted from me. I have a future.
I recommend the keto diet for anyone, but particularly those suffering from emphysema as it will change your life.
Thats great to hear Gloria, are you still on the ketogenic diet?
I went on the keto diet 9 months ago for digestive issues and a little weight loss. I felt great…however, recently I started eating carbs and sugar again. Within the past week of non keto my asthma has come back. I am wheezy, inflamed and full of mucous. It’s funny, with being so busy the past 6 months I hadn’t realised how very nearly symptom free I have been until it all came back and I realized it could possibly be the keto diet aided my Asthma! Back on the diet tomorrow. Thank you for posting your COPD/keto page.
Hope you’re doing well Joanne.