Keto Diet and Mental Health


It’s crucial to consider the keto diet and its impact on mental health conditions. We also need to look into how the body’s running on ketones helps stabilize one’s mood.

Benefits of the keto diet on mental health

The keto diet appears to have a positive impact on the functions of the brain: giving a feel-good sensation, improving brain power, and the beneficial effects of antioxidants.

Boosting the feel-good sensation

The state of ketosis has been observed to increase the creation of a brain neurotransmitter known as GABA. Various studies have proven that a dysfunctional GABA results in different anxiety disorders. Studies about the use of keto diet for treating seizure disorders like epilepsy tend to reveal that a balance in GABA may result in improved mental focus and reduced cases of stress and anxiety.

Increased brain power

It is a common belief that glucose is needed for the brain. What most people know is that ketone bodies from fat like beta hydroxybutyrate can be used as an alternative fuel the brain can use. Based on research, ketones appear to be more efficient fuel for the brain than glucose. Ketones is believed to increase the number of mitochondria or energy factories within the brains cells, which increase the energy levels inside those cells. This function is crucial since mental disorders have one thing in common. They all boil down to deficient energy production.

Potent antioxidant effects

Studies have shown that the keto diet may help in the reduction of oxidative stress and brain inflammation. Researchers believe that reduced inflammation and improved energy of the cells from ketones may bolster the brain functions. Moreover, studies have also revealed that one way for the keto diet to work in seizure treatment is through increasing the production of an antioxidant known as glutathione, which protects the body from oxidative stress.

 Keto diet and mental conditions

Recent animal studies have shown that the keto diet may be used for treating depression. The mechanism still appears unclear, but the keto diet has been observed to have similar effects as conventional antidepressant drugs. However, further human studies are required to confirm their impact on humans.

Schizophrenia is another mental condition that the keto diet has shown to have positive impact in animal studies and small-scale human studies. The keto diet’s effects on schizophrenia are attributed to the same mechanisms previously mentioned, particularly in the increased levels of GABA and not using glucose for body fuel.

On the other hand, studies revealed that higher ketone levels in the body may aid mild cognitive impairment (MCI). This is a condition that makes someone more likely to have dementia. Among the suspected causes of MCI is high level of brain inflammation due to the buildup of amyloid plaques like those that are evident in Alzheimer’s disease. Based on studies, the keto diet can help in the reduction of inflammation and plaques.

What you eat affects your mental health

The keto diet is described by health experts as the fasting-mimicking diet plan designed to imitate the health benefits for fasting. By the body’s use of fats instead of carbohydrates for body fuel, the body makes ketones and may enjoy the results of fasting without going through it.

As more researchers studied keto, they discovered that the diet leads to decreased levels of inflammation, balanced neurotransmitters, better insulin resistance, and resolved metabolic problems in many people. The keto diet has also been observed to have a huge impact on the body’s gut microbiome, which appears to play a main role in mental illness in certain people.

Enough scientific studies also supported the claim that keto diet is effective in the treatment of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Several controlled studies also considered the keto diet as a treatment for mental illnesses such as treatment-resistant depression, opioid dependence, and treatment-resistance depression.

Ketosis and mental health

Ketosis has been observed to correct or reverse several biochemical disturbances that are prevalent among those who have mental health conditions. The increase in cases of obesity and metabolic syndrome is proportional to the increase in cases of anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. At the level of individual patients, a high percentage of those who have mental health conditions are overweight or have a metabolic syndrome or maybe both.

A Harvard psychiatrist has been promoting induced ketosis for treating mental health conditions. This came as a result of his observation that there is a dramatic impact on hallucinations as well as other psychotic symptoms in Schizophrenic patients who went on a keto diet for weight loss.

He and other health practitioners have studied several cases of OCD, anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions that are largely resolved among patients who went on keto diets. Most of these patients still take conventional medications but sometimes at reduced doses. Several participants in the study showed a recurrence of their symptoms a day or two after ceasing to follow the keto diet regimens.

Is the keto diet safe?

People have become more keen on ensuring the safety of the keto diet for people who are at a high risk of cardiac arrest and stroke. Based on expert observation, people on keto diet may sometimes experience an increase in the levels of bad cholesterol, but they also have improved blood pressure regulation, higher levels of good cholesterol, inflammation, and triglycerides, as well as reduced risk of heart attack. Positive results came out from the research conducted on the safety and effectiveness of the keto diet by the American Diabetes Association. The organization now lists the keto diet along with other low-carb diets as dietary plans for people who have diabetes.

What do you think?