My plan was to ignore the ridiculous claims, the attempts at fear mongering, the absolute absurdity that such a thing as crassly monikered as “Keto Crotch” could be mistaken as real. My belief was to not give it more than “10 minutes of fame”, reasoning that something so ludicrous could not possibly be mistaken as truth. I was wrong. Let’s look at the hype and some reliable resources to reassure our female (and perhaps our male) members that consistently eating whole, real foods like meat, full-fat dairy, and vegetables and NOT EATING processed packaged foods created in a factory, will result in personal crotch calamity.
First, I am not a medical doctor, but a PhD in research and policy analysis. I have followed a strict ketogenic diet for nearly 6 years, and I created a closed FB group, YouTube channel, and three books to help others improve their health just as I did, by following a very low carb or ketogenic diet. Over the past four years, I’ve watched firsthand as tens of thousands of people have reversed diabetes, managed blood glucose, healed insulin resistance, won battles with cancer, had their names crossed off kidney transplant lists, and managed autoimmune diseases. Moreover, I’ve cheered, and cried with joy, as they marveled at how they can now DO things with loved ones. They ride bikes; they hike, they buy smaller clothes, they fit in theater seats, they can walk through the store on their own. Real food did that.
Second, while the experiences I listed above are anecdotal, we have evidence that keto works. REAL, clinical evidence. Follow this link for RCTs and other studies supporting low carb or keto for better health: https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/science . This is an additional meta-analysis that provides documentation for each of the medical conditions treated with a very low carb or ketogenic diet along with information about how keto offers promising emerging therapies for other health conditions https://www.nature.com/articles/ejcn2013116 . And here is additional information about what we know about how keto impacts the body (side effects included). https://www.dietdoctor.com/health. Last, a presentation by Dr. Fox talking about low carb or keto for women’s reproductive health
https://www.dietdoctor.com/member/presentations/fox. I offer all of that as evidence of how eliminating high carb, processed foods has well-documented health benefits.
With those health benefits thus established, let’s look at the claims regarding a fabricated condition dubbed “Keto crotch”. Each article offers the disclaimer that there is no scientific evidence to support this claim nor is there any doctor who has claimed to treat it or to even report inquiries from patients. In fact, the original article that seems to be the basis for the hysteria is from Women’s Health https://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/a26449357/keto-crotch/ also known as a headline-grabbing sensationalistic website in search of advertising dollars. Their source? Chatter on Reddit, r/keto. The chief complaint is odor. Apparently someone in their first 24 to 48 hours of giving up whole grain Cheerios or organic quinoa harvested under the first full moon, has noticed an odor from between her legs. You’re probably gasping at the horror of it. If you’re a female, you know how absolutely rare it is to encounter vaginal odor. Never happens, does it? Nope, which is exactly why there are shelves of ‘feminine products’ marketed to help women with body odor!
The article quotes two physicians, one who addresses the reported change in body odor, and a second who addresses questions about a rash in the crotch area. Neither seems alarmed about these reports and the board-certified ob/gyn goes on to say that “there’s really nothing about the keto diet in particular that would cause you to break out in a crotch rash”. She encourages readers “…don’t just blame it on the diet,” and encourages readers to seek medical attention. The article goes on to include a list of potential negative keto side effects, even saying that keto flu can last for two weeks! Anyone with more than three months of experience following a strict keto diet can see that the information is sensationalized and not entirely trustworthy.
In my years of keto and social media, women (and men) have confided a lot of concerns. Anything resembling keto crotch has not been one of them. Dr. Ken Berry, a Tennessee physician who uses keto to treat patients, created a YouTube video where he reassures viewers that keto crotch is not a chief complaint from his patients. Dr. Eric Westman, obesity specialist at Duke University who has been using low carb and keto for decades, also reassured me that this is not a concern in his practice.
What does cause vaginal odor or discharge? Here are a few links that can help you to discern when to seek medical attention. According to the Mayo clinic, these are common causes of vaginal odor
Also, while the article doesn’t mention discharge, here are some causes of vaginal discharge. Notice that diabetes is one cause listed.
In fact, among the complications of diabetes, chronic yeast and bladder infections are well documented.
Diabetics, Type 1 and 2 are at increased risk of infection including UTIs and mucous membrane infections.
As evidenced above, keto is a remarkable way to manage diabetes and to avoid significant health issues.
While the threat of keto crotch isn’t real, the ongoing negative media regarding a keto diet is, and that is the real danger in sensationalized media articles like this and the dozens of copycat articles that followed. As a result, women are actually fearful that keto might be harmful because it allegedly creates a foul vaginal odor. Many of these readers are unfamiliar with a real food, clean keto approach. When I omit the word keto, and focus on the whole foods my family eats—seafood, pork, beef, chicken, cabbage, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, peppers, and onion, then the ‘diet’ seems far less frightening. When I explain that I’ve lost over 100lbs and maintained that loss since June 2013 and that my health markers are perfect, they can’t deny the health benefits. When I further explain that I no longer take medications for pain and that I take none of the medications that most people my age take, especially given my family history, then they want to know more. Last, when they sample the delicious foods we eat daily, they want to do this dangerous diet too!
Knowledge is power. We can’t let these mistruths and half-truths take root. Keto isn’t a magic potion. It isn’t the crazy products being promoted in pop culture, and it isn’t starving yourself with fasting regimens or eating plates of fat. Real food for real people with real, long-term health benefits. Put that message on Reddit!
Categories: General Information