The low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet can treat schizoprenia as well as ease bipolar disorder, epilepsy and depression, according to new studies.
The ketogenic diet dramatically reduced symptoms of chronic brain disorder resembling schizophrenia in mice, according to researchers at James Cook University in Australia.
Although more studies are needed, scientists said their results so far indicate the ketogenic diet can ease pathological behaviors in an animal model of schizophrenia. These findings were published in the journal Schizophrenia Research.
“It works against the weight gain, cardiovascular issues, and Type 2 diabetes we see as common side effects of drugs given to control schizophrenia,” Dr. Zolan Sarnyai said in a press release.
“Most of a person’s energy would come from fat. So the diet would consist of butter, cheese and salmon,” said Sarnyai, a neuroscientist who has an M.D. and Ph.D.
The ketogenic diet has been used to treat epilepsy in children since 1920. Recently, it has gained popularity as a way to promote rapid weight loss by forcing the body to burn fat for fuel, said obesity expert Dr. Eric Westman, co-author of Keto Clarity.
Psychiatrists say the ketogenic diet can also combat depression and bipolar disorder, Examiner reported.
“There are a lot of people out there who call themselves depressed who aren’t actually depressed,” said psychiatrist Rif El-Mallakh, a professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine.
“I think people confuse low energy with depression, or sugar crashes with mood swings, but they probably don’t have a mental illness. And those people may do better with dietary interventions alone.”
Dr. El-Mallakh said several of his patients suffering from bipolar disorder found relief with the ketogenic diet, which is high-fat, low-carb and moderate-protein.
El-Mallakh and other psychiatrists say diet dramatically affects brain function and mood, and healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil and pastured butter have neuroprotective qualities.
“The [research] results are unusually consistent,” said Michael Berk, a professor of psychiatry at the Deakin University School of Medicine in Australia. “They show a link between diet quality and mental health.”
As it is, a longtime dietary prescription for depression patients is increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to enhance mood.
In 2011, a 32-year-old California woman suffering from bipolar disorder experienced immediate relief from her depression and manic mood swings after following the low-carb, high-fat Atkins diet.
“I changed my diet because I had gastrointestinal issues,” she recalled. “I noticed within a day or two the marked difference in my head. It felt clear for the first time in years and years.”
The woman has been doing well for the past four years, and no longer takes prescription drugs to treat her bipolar disorder. She said the LCHF diet has been a life-changer.
Similarly, physician Dr. Terry Wahls reversed her multiple sclerosis after adopting a ketogenic Paleo diet. Dr. Wahls chronicled her remarkable recovery in her bestseller, The Wahls Protocol.
These results are not surprising to Dr. Jeff Volek, a registered dietitian and professor at Ohio State University. Volek said the ketogenic diet dramatically boosts physical and mental health.
By drastically reducing carbs and replacing them with healthy, unprocessed fats, we enjoy better mood, experience more stable blood sugar, experience weight loss and ward off degenerative illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.
“It was nothing short of an epiphany when I changed to a ketogenic diet 20 years ago,” said Dr. Volek, author of the Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living. “I felt better, more satiated, and had more consistent energy.
Volek added: “Carbohydrate restriction is the proverbial ‘silver bullet’ for managing insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. There are very few people that a ketogenic diet could not help.”
Similarly, neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter said restricting carbs and eating more unprocessed saturated fats (like those found in grass-fed beef, olive oil, pastured eggs, coconut oil) protects the brain and prevents dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
“Fat is your friend,” said Dr. Perlmutter, author of Brain Maker. “The brain thrives on a fat-rich, low-carbohydrate diet.”