3 Biggest Keto Diet Mistakes (And how to fix them with Essential Oils)

by Jodi Cohen

The Keto diet can help you lose weight, calm inflammation and improve brain health when executed properly.  Unfortunately, the keto diet includes a lot of animal protein and fat, which is only healthy if you are able to digest, absorb and assimilate the protein and healthy fats and drop into a state of “fat adaptation” and ketosis.

For example, if you are not digesting your fats or proteins, they contribute to your toxic load, overwhelming your liver and impeding your ability to drop into ketosis.  Undigested proteins also contribute to food allergies, food intolerances, leaky gut and systemic inflammation. Similarly, if your liver is overwhelmed, it cannot keep up with the toxic load,  toxins do not leave the body. Instead they get flushed back into your blood stream, contributing to systemic toxicity and inflammation.

Topically applied essential oils can help your body digest proteins, absorb fats, switch into ketosis and keep you feeling good to continue your diet.

Mistake #1 Inability to Digest and Absorb Fat

Many of us are unable to properly digest and assimilate fats and increasing the amount of fat, even healthy fat, in the diet only makes the problem worse.

A few years ago Vibrant Blue Oils attended a Paleo conference where we offered free health assessments expecting to find a very healthy population of attendees.  Much to my surprise, almost every person we assessed showed signs of poor fat digestion and assimilation.  While they were eating this pristine, nutrient dense, whole food paleo or keto diet, much of the fat was not being properly absorbed and assimilated.

When fat assimilation is not properly working, any diet, including the Keto Diet, that overloads the body with dietary fat can cause more harm than good.

Symptoms of Poor Fat Digestion

  • Dry skin and brittle hair
  • Hormonal imbalances (fat helps synthesize new hormones and eliminate old hormones)
  • Low levels of fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K despite ample supplementation
  • Gas, belching or bloating after meals
  • Mild headaches over the eyes
  • Greasy, smelly, light-colored and/or floating stools.
  • Gallbladder pain (right side, under ribs), Pain between the shoulder blades or Gallstones
  • Nausea or diarrhea after eating

Mistake #2 Inability to Digest Protein

The keto diet is high in protein, a large nutrient made up of smaller substances called amino acids.  Proteins need to be broken down by chewing and the release of hydrochloric acid in your stomach. If proteins are not properly broken down and digested, they can trigger an immune response that sets the stage for food allergies, food intolerances, leaky gut and systemic inflammation.

Most food allergies result from an immune response triggered by insufficiently digested proteins from your food.  If your stomach is not producing sufficient hydrochloric acid to sufficiently break down and digest dietary proteins, your immune system could mistakes these food proteins as a dangerous substance and trigger an immune response.

Symptoms of Low Stomach Acid/Poor Protein Digestion

Research demonstrates that your vagus nerve, the nerve that communicates between your gut and your brain, plays a central role in the release of stomach acid.  The follow symptoms are some indicators that correlate with low vagal function and protein digestion.  Download the full checklist here-

  • Dry mouth or eyes
  • Lump in throat or difficulty swallowing (especially difficulty swallowing supplements)
  • Slow bowel movements and tendency for constipation
  • Acid Reflux/GERD
  • Tendency for anxiety
  • Bloating or burping after fatty or fried meals
  • Episodes of racing heart
  • Tense muscles, especially around the neck/shoulder
  • Poor digestion (poor motility, bloating, gas)
  • Frequent urination or incontinence
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Sensitive to bright or flashing lights
  • Difficulty sleeping or Nightmares
  • Floating stool
  • Digestive disorders including leaky gut and food allergies
  • B12 Deficiency
  • Low Vitamin D or other nutrient levels
  • Not being able to tell when you are full or hungry

Mistake #3 Poor Liver Function Impairs Fat Adaptation

In order for the keto diet to work, you need to switch from burning sugar as a fuel source to burning fat as a fuel source.  This switch is called “fat-adapted”.

In order for your body to make that switch, your livers needs produce ketones, chemicals made in your liver when your body signals that you need energy but don’t have enough glucose and need to use fat as the fuel source.  If your liver is not functioning optimally or is overwhelmed clearing toxins (including undigested proteins that turn into toxins), it will not have the energy to help you switch gears into Ketosis.

This is why some people struggle to shift into ketosis, because the liver is already overwhelmed and is lacking the energy to help convert body fat into ketones, which then get used as an energy source by your body.

Your liver is often late to complain and lacks pain receptors, making it difficult to know when it’s struggling and needs support.  Since the liver is involved in so many functions of the body, it will usually manifest symptoms elsewhere. For example, some early signs and symptoms of an overtaxed or stressed liver may present as:

Excessive Fatigue: Fatigue is a common when the liver is under stress as the liver is responsible for managing blood sugar which support your energy levels and combat fatigue. A stressed liver may become less efficient at regulating your blood sugar leaving to fatigue and sugar cravings. Read more HERE.

Hormone Imbalances or PMS: The liver detoxifies your  hormones, including excess estrogen. When liver function is impaired, excess estrogen may not be eliminated and can be reabsorbed resulting in symptoms like PMS, breast tenderness, excessive bleeding, moodiness or weight gain.  Read More about Estrogen Dominance HERE.

Bloating and Gas: When bile flow is compromised, dysbiosis can set in, where unfriendly flora dominate, leading to constipation where toxins are not eliminated further contributing to an imbalance of gut flora, gas and bloating.

High Levels of Heavy Metals: When the liver’s detoxification pathways are impaired, heavy metals can accumulate in the body. In particular, the liver’s stores of glutathione, which safely and effectively binds to toxins and metals, can be depleted. Read more about this HERE.

Chemical sensitivities and allergies: Your liver breaks down excess histamine.  If your liver is sluggish, histamine is not properly broken down and can build up in your body contributing to symptoms like a heightened sensitivity to smells, chemicals and foods. Read more HERE.

Research shows that individuals with impaired bile flow, present with significantly greater than normal levels of histamine in their blood work.

Itchy Skin: When your liver is impaired, it compromises optimal bile flow.  Bile can then get pushed out through and deposited on your skin contributing to itchiness.

Bruising and Bleeding: You may bruise more easily because the liver can no longer produce enough proteins that are needed to clot the blood after an injury. The liver actually produces several clotting factors, all of which begin to disappear when the liver is damaged.

Swelling: When the liver isn’t able to do its job, people may start to retain water in their abdomens and legs, causing swelling.

Poor Sleep: Poor liver function can contribute to night waking. Sleep disturbances have long been observed in chronic liver conditions, and one mechanism may be impaired hepatic melatonin metabolism. Read more HERE.

Essential Oil Solutions to 3 Keto Diet Mistakes

When digestion is compromised, like when you cannot digest proteins or assimilate fats, it can be challenging to get remedies into your body through your digestive channel. This is one of the reasons you might continually test low for nutrients like vitamin D, vitamin B, zinc, or iron despite frequent supplementation.

Even if digestion is challenged, you can still assimilate healing remedies, like essential oils through your olfactory system and your skin.   Both channels offer an incredibly high rate of absorption, which is critical for enabling the body to move quickly and effectively into a ketogenic state

Your sense of smell (part of your olfactory system), is one of the most powerful channels into the body. Olfactory cells are brain cells with immediate access to your brain.  The entire process from the initial inhalation of an essential oil to a corresponding response in the body can happen in a matter of seconds.

Similarly, your skin, which is your largest organ, is relatively permeable to fat-soluble substances like essential oils. The molecules of essential oils are so small that they can pass through your skin into the capillaries and quickly be absorbed into the bloodstream. From there, they can disperse to specific organs. One study found that the constituents of topically applied lavender oil were measurable in the blood within twenty minutes, and they stayed in the blood system for up to ninety minutes.

Due to the ease of administration, essential oils are ideal for anyone with compromised digestion, who might be taking medications that contraindicate supplements, who struggles to find natural alternatives that are vegan or gluten-free, or for children who struggle to swallow supplements.

Essential Oils for the Keto diet can help your body digest proteins, absorb fats, switch into ketosis and keep you feeling good to continue your diet.

Solution #1 Essential Oils for Fat Digestion

As you may know, a critical component of fat digestion is bile, a yellowish-green fluid that is produced in the liver and stored and concentrated in the gall bladder.  When we eat a meal that contains fat, the gall bladder secretes bile into the small intestine where it helps emulsify the fat for digestion.

Bile also serves as a depository to carry toxins and old hormones out of the body.  Ideally, the gall bladder releases bile into the small intestine where it breaks down the fat for the body to absorb, before being eliminated from the body in the stool.  When we eliminate the bile, we eliminate the toxins along with it.  Unfortunately, stress, hormones, and excess fat consumption can make the bile thick, viscous and stagnant which impedes its ability to flow both to the small intestine and out of the body.  This results in the following problems:

  • Fats and their corresponding fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K are not properly emulsified, digested or absorbed. This robs of the body of the building blocks it needs to create healthy hormones and cells.
  • Undigested fats rancidify creating an additional toxic burden for the body
  • Toxins, waste and old hormones that were stored in the bile for elimination via the intestines do not exit the body and are therefore reabsorbed further adding to the body’s toxic burden, contributing to hormonal imbalances and gall bladder challenges.

In other words, the good things can’t get into the body and the bad things are not removed from the body.

To support your Keto diet and avoid this viscous cycle, you might consider the following essential oils to ensure optimal fat digestion:

Parasympathetic™: Your body needs to be in the parasympathetic nervous system “rest and digest” state to promote optimal  digestion, absorption and assimilation of fat.  It is in this optimal parasympvathetic state that the pancreas releases digestive enzymes and the gall bladder releases bile to emulsify and break down fat. To ensure optimal digestion in the parasympathetic state, you can apply the Vibrant Blue Parasympathetic™ blend to the vagal nerve (behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone) before meals to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system “rest and digest” state.

Liver™:  The liver produces bile, a yellowish-green fluid that aids in the emulsification of fats and the  digestion and absorption of fat-soluble substances, like vitamins A, D, E, and K.  The liver also stores fat-soluble toxins, including old hormones (like excess estrogen), in the bile for transport out of the body through the digestive elimination process.  This means the liver needs to be functioning optimally to both produce bile and filter and store old hormones.  You can support optimal liver function by applying Vibrant Blue Oils Liver™ over the liver (right side of the body, under the ribs) 2 – 3 times daily.

Gall Bladder™:  Once the liver produces bile, it is stored and concentrated in the gall bladder.  When we eat a meal with fat, the bile should flow freely into the small intestine to breaks down the fat, so we can absorb it.  Unfortunately, stress, hormones, and excess fat consumption can make the bile thick, viscous and stagnant which impedes its ability to flow.  If you try a keto diet and experience a lot of nausea, this is a sign of gall bladder issues.  To support the optimal flow of bile from the Gall Bladder, apply Vibrant Blue Oils Gall Bladder™ on the right side of the body under the bra under-wire or along and slightly under the right rib cage, can help ease bile flow for optimal fat assimilation and absorption.

Pancreas™:  The pancreas secretes digestive enzymes into the small intestine. Some of these enzymes, called lipolytic enzymes, further break down the fat and allow us to absorb it.  To support optimal enzyme release for fat digestion, apply 2 – 3 drops of Vibrant Blue Oils Pancreas™ on the fifth rib (2 down from where the bottom of your bra) on the left side of the body.

Solution #2 Essential Oils for Protein Digestion

Digestion begins in your brain.  Signals from your brain, sent via your vagus nerve, turn on your digestive function.  Your autonomic nervous system, which controls all automatic functions in your body including  digestion, vacillates between two states. In your survival state, known as the sympathetic “Fight or Flight” state, all resources are allocated to surviving — blood flow is routed away from the organs of digestion and toward the limbs and muscles so we can quickly flee from danger.  You cannot properly digest or assimilate proteins when blood flow is routed away from your digestive system.

In order to properly break down and assimilate proteins, you need to eat in the parasympathetic “Rest, Digest and Heal” state.  Stimulating your vagus nerve with Parasympathetic™ oil triggers your parasympathetic response, which turns on your digestive process:

  • Your mouth releases saliva, which helps break down proteins
  • Your stomach produces HCL acid
  • Your pancreas secretes enzymes
  • Your gall bladder releases bile
  • Your sphincters open and close contributing to motility, allowing nutrients and waste to move through the digestive system and be properly eliminated.

When you attempt to eat under stress, in a sympathetic state, you compromise your ability to assimilate your nutrients and eliminate waste.

Like muscles, your nerves need constant stimulation to be healthy. Ninety percent of your brain’s output goes through your brainstem. A poorly functioning brain does not stimulate your vagus nerve, resulting in reduced activation of the gastrointestinal tract.   To support optimal brain function and enhance digestion, apply Parasympathetic™ behind the mastoid bone before meals. When you apply it, take a few deep breaths, with the exhalation longer than the inhalation to fully relax and turn on digestion prior to meals.

Solution #3 Essential Oils for Healthy Liver Function

In order for the keto diet to work, your liver needs the vitality to produce ketones to shift you into the “fat-adapted” state of ketosis.  If your liver is overwhelmed or congested from an overload of toxins (including undigested proteins that turn into toxins), it will not have the energy to help you switch gears into Ketosis.  Read More about Liver Overwhelm HERE.

This is why some people struggle to shift into ketosis, because the liver is already overwhelmed and is lacking the energy to help convert body fat into ketones, which then get used as an energy source by your body.

Essential oils help keep plants healthy by moving vital fluids and energy.  They perform similar functions in your body, helping to move energy and prevent stagnation.  When your liver becomes stagnant, from physical toxins, stress or anxiety, it impedes detoxification.  Essential oils are a powerful tool to help shift stagnation and improve flow of energy and toxins through the liver and the gall bladder.

Essential oils can help shift your body into alignment so toxins do not backlog back into your bloodstream, but flow out of your body. More specifically, topically applying essential oils to specific points on your skin can activate energy flow directly and quickly, stimulating your liver and gall bladder to help toxins flow out of the body instead of back into the bloodstream.

The super small size of essential oil molecules allows them to be easily assimilated into the organs, to help promote directional flow of bile and toxins.

Applying Liver™ directly over the liver (right side beneath the breast) 2-3 times daily may help to  balance and energize your liver so it can perform its numerous functions with optimal vitality.  Formulated with oils that help stimulate, strengthen, and tone the liver, including German Chamomile, which stimulates bile secretions and supports liver detox.

You can also combine Liver™ blend with castor oil – just add 3 drops of Liver™ to 1 tsp of castor oil and rub it over the liver before bed.  Castor oil is notoriously messy, so you can either: (1) cover it with a piece of flannel and plastic wrap and apply heat from a hot water bottle (avoid the electricity of heating pads) for 20-30 minutes,  (2) wear a ratty t-shirt and let your body eat work it’s magic (3) climb into an Epsom salt bath with the castor oil and Liver™ oil and benefit from layering 3 healing strategies at the same time.

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About The Author

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.

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