Keto Diet May Aid Mental Health

We haven’t made a secret of the fact that we aren’t fans of the keto diet. It’s slightly better than the Mediterranean for blood sugar results, but not enough to merit its potential dangers. We have always been concerned about how restrictive it is and the way it negatively impacts cholesterol.

However, we also always say that different people need different diet approaches. Nothing works for everyone. People with serious mental health concerns like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia can have metabolic problems because of their medications. A keto diet can ease both their mental health symptoms and metabolic issues.

People eating a high-fat, low-carb diet experienced weight loss, reversed metabolic syndrome and improved psychiatric assessments by 31 percent. After four months of following a keto diet, people had lost an average of 10 percent of their body weight and had no signs of metabolic syndrome.    

The medications that aid serious mental health concerns can regulate brain chemistry and help people. But they can cause obesity, insulin resistance and other metabolic issues. The side effects can lead to people no longer taking their meds. In the study, following a keto diet not only reversed the side effects but also aided their mental health and people stuck to their medications.

The ketogenic diet has been proven to be effective for treatment-resistant epileptic seizures by reducing the excitability of neurons in the brain,” said Dr. Shebani Sethi. “We thought it would be worth exploring this treatment in psychiatric conditions.”

People in the study did not restrict their calories. They ate 60 percent fat, 30 percent protein and 10 percent carbs. They met with a health coach and were given cookbooks.

Dr. Sethi of Stanford Univ. is board-certified in both obesity and psychiatry, making her the perfect person to lead the study. She has been studying “metabolic psychiatry,” a new field examining how the body’s energy source impacts mental health. In ketosis, people burn fat for energy rather than sugar. Metabolic psychiatry believes that energy sources can play a major role in brain behavior.  

Dr. Sethi said many of her patients have both metabolic concerns and mental health illnesses. She wanted to find ways to help them beyond medications. “They are seeking more help. They are looking to just feel better.”

People reported sleeping better, having more energy, improved moods and a higher quality of life by the end of the study. The researchers believe that the keto diet may improve the brain’s metabolism and provide it with better energy sources to function well.

Banner image: Milad Fakurian via Unsplash

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