Severe mental health and metabolic symptoms may be ameliorated by a ketogenic diet.

Severe mental health and metabolic symptoms may be ameliorated by a ketogenic diet.

In the United States, mental health disorders are thought to impact at least 578 million adults. Included in this are serious illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Antipsychotic drugs are sometimes necessary for the treatment of symptoms, but they can also have detrimental effects on metabolism, including weight gain and insulin resistance, which can make people feel worse about themselves and sometimes force them to stop taking their medications. To address these issues, Stanford Medicine recently conducted a pilot study to determine whether a ketogenic diet could improve the metabolic and psychiatric outcomes of patients with severe mental illness.

Diabetes, obesity, and mental health issues are just a few of the conditions that have been successfully managed by the ketogenic diet, which is high in fats, low in carbs, and moderate in protein. A 4-month ketogenic diet intervention may now dramatically improve symptoms and quality of life in individuals with severe mental illness and metabolic conditions when combined with standard medication and treatment, according to a pilot study from Stanford Medicine.

According to recent research, following a ketogenic diet that consists of high-fat, low-carb foods may help reduce weight gain and other side effects from the medications used to treat serious mental illness. Researchers at Stanford Medicine conducted a clinical trial in which they enrolled 23 patients with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia and gave them dietary instructions to consume roughly 60% fat, 30% protein, and 10% carbohydrates. Researchers have found that drugs used to treat severe mental illness can have “major metabolic side effects,” like weight gain and insulin resistance. All of the patients in the study experienced at least one of these symptoms. Upon completing a four-month ketogenic diet, a significant improvement in psychiatric symptoms was observed in 79% of the participants.

Further research is required to ascertain whether dietary modifications can significantly, long-term benefit patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, given the small size and brief duration of the study. However, the results are part of an expanding body of evidence pointing to a strong connection between diet and brain health. Additionally, studies on the ketogenic diet have been conducted to treat epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. Theoretically, by addressing metabolic problems, the diet may lessen mental symptoms. The working theory, according to study lead author Shebani Sethi, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford Medicine, is that we’re giving the brain energy to get around these metabolic deficiencies.

Researchers are aware that a ketogenic diet can help the brain, but Sethi said it is still unclear how much the diet can specifically help with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Initial search strategies turned up a total of 32 experimental or observational studies, 14 of which satisfied the requirements to be included in this analysis. While the exact diet plans used in each study varied slightly, they all primarily looked at low-carb dietary intake to induce a ketotic state. According to the studies in this review, KD helped lower symptoms related to a range of psychiatric conditions.

There are various theories regarding the application of KD to treat mental health disorders. The γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) to glutamate ratio in the brain is thought to be altered by the KD, favoring GABA. Theoretically, the imbalanced GABA levels in a person with schizophrenia could be compensated for by this increase in GABA, which would then lessen symptoms like delusions and hallucinations.

Additionally, it is believed that ketogenic diets reduce reactive oxygen species and raise levels of phosphocreatine, adenosine triphosphate, and other nutrients that enhance metabolic efficiency. This may be advantageous for people on medications that increase their risk of gaining weight. This may lessen brain inflammation, which could relieve symptoms in a variety of illness states, including Alzheimer’s disease. 7 There is also another theory that suggests ketosis limits neuronal excitability and apoptosis, which could account for the positive reports of KD in epileptic patients.

Due to beneficial changes in the gut microbiome, the metabolic alterations linked to seizure reduction may also have potential benefits in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Acidic plasma is thought to stabilize mood in bipolar disorder by decreasing intracellular calcium and sodium. The KD improves daytime sleepiness by increasing the activation of orexin-containing neurons in narcolepsy patients by causing relative hypoglycemia. This systematic review aims to investigate the clinical effects of KD on different states of psychiatric illness. The examined research offers proof that the KD may help treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ASD, Alzheimer’s disease, and anorexia nervosa.


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