How Might A Keto Diet Help With Depression ?
- 14 Aug, 2020
By now you have undoubtedly heard about the ability of keto to burn fat, and fast. The high-fat, low-carb diet has a moment. Celebrities like Halle Berry and Megan Fox swear by it as a strategy for weight loss. On keto and depression, however, less has been said. Helps or hurts your mood by giving up the carbs and sugar? Read on for a look at what is being said by science, and how to tweak keto if you feel down.
Depression and Keto: What it says in Science
The keto diet was long overdue. It was first used to treat patients with epilepsy in the 1920s. Researchers found that higher blood ketone levels resulted in fewer epileptic seizures in patients, suggesting that keto can influence and change brain chemistry. Since depression and brain are so closely related, researchers have been investigating the prospect of using keto as a depression treatment. The findings are positive.
In one study, rats on a keto diet moved more than a control group (low physical activity is considered a depression marker). Researchers concluded that rats on the keto diet, like antidepressant-treated rats, are less likely to show what they call "behavioral desperation". In another study, an 8-week-old mouse in the womb exposed to keto diet but once born a standard diet was less likely to be depressed or anxious and more physically active than a mouse fed a standard diet in utero and postnatally.
The mouse's brain volume that had been on keto also varied from that of the mouse eating a normal diet. The findings suggest that the keto diet can change the brain size, at least before birth. Other studies also reveal that keto affects brain structure. Keto increased the thickness of the blood vessels in the brain in one report. While another study showed that ketones protect brain cells from injury.
How can Keto help your Mood
1. Steady Energy Levels
If you are used to eating morning oatmeal and a lunch sandwich, then you are probably familiar with the highs and lows of electricity. High-carb diets cause rapid increases in blood sugar, which decreases just as rapidly. Energy crashes affect your mood and can cause you to feel anxious and depressed (for one reason it is called "hangry"). When the sugar in your blood begins to drop, your brain panics, thinking it will not get more fuel to work. This stress response can cause anxiety or depression. One research showed that diabetic patients with fluctuating blood sugar levels experienced higher depressive rates than patients with more stable levels of blood sugar.
Ketones provide your brain with an immediate source of energy since they are metabolized more quickly than glucose. Ketones have a longer-lasting, more reliable supply of energy and because your body understands that fuel will still enter your fat reserves, your brain does not worry, believing you are running out of calories.
2. Reduces inflammation.
You turn your back on inflammatory, processed foods such as bread, cereal, and pasta that damage the gut (unless you follow a dirty keto diet but more on that later). Instead, you fill your plate with healthy protein sources, nourishing fats and fresh vegetables that cure the gut and reduce the inflammation. In one study, middle-aged people who eat a diet rich in whole foods (defined as fish, vegetables and fruit) were less likely to be diagnosed with depression than those who consumed unhealthy foods (sweetened desserts, fried foods and refined grains).
"The keto diet lets you eat healthy food," says holistic doctor Ellen Vora, MD. "It motivates people to become more mindful of how they are sourcing, storing, and consuming their food and it needs a transition to a nutrient-dense, real-food diet." Consuming anti-inflammatory food would have a strong effect on your mood. Evidence indicates that inflammation and depression are related together:
Depressed people have elevated levels of proinflammatory cytokines molecules released by the body in response to inflammation. People with cancer or autoimmune diseases exhibit higher depression rates. While it is true that being sick can make one feel depressed, scientists say that the probable culprit is the connection between depression and inflammation.
3. Keto favors neurogenesis
The keto diet can boost your neurogenesis rate (how often you make new brain cells). Why is mood so important? A low neurogenesis level is associated with mood disorders like depression. In comparison, a low dose will improve emotional tolerance. Diet is a crucial player in deciding the neurogenesis rate. Some foods slow it down while others accelerate it. A high-sugar diet (i.e. the reverse of keto) reduces your neurogenesis process by spiking the levels of insulin in your blood. So much sugar degrades all your cells, the brain included. For one study, rats who eat a diet rich for sugar and oxidized (damaged) fats after only two months showed reduced cognitive function. The area of the brain most affected has been the hippocampus, where neurogenesis occurs.
4. Fat is fueling your brain
All the healthy fat you eat on the keto feeds your brain and keeps your moods stable. Your brain is made up of almost 60 percent fat and needs plenty of good fat to keep it running. Numerous studies show that omega-3 fatty acids found in wild fish, grass-fed beef and fish oils can potentially reduce depression. In one study, two types of omega-3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA have helped to secrete serotonin, the neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger) that helps to re-establish serotonin.
Why do you feel depressed?
1. You do not eat enough of nutrient-dense foods
Keto can be practiced, and also survive off fast food. It is known as "dirty keto." You follow the same breakdown as regular keto of fats, proteins, and carbs, but with one difference: it does not matter where those macronutrients originate. So lunch can be a bunless cheeseburger with bacon and diet soda. You will find out more about this disgusting keto here.
Consuming diets that are deficient in vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants does not make your mood favorite. Your body relies on nutrient-dense foods, especially high-quality protein and healthy fats, to produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which help stabilize mood. If you do not eat enough of these foods, your brain cells will not be able to communicate as effectively with each other and may send out the wrong signals. Your success suffers and you can feel discouraged and nervous. Inflammatory foods can also disturb the gut 's balance with both good and poor bacteria. Your stomach and brain interact continuously with each other (known as the gut-brain axis), and findings indicate that an imbalance in the stomach can lead to depression and a host of other diseases and conditions.
2. You have weak electrolyte counts
When you start keto for the first time, your kidneys start excreting more water while your body transfers energy from consuming glucose to ketones. This water flush accounts for the spectacular weight loss that people often experience when they first go on the diet. Yet there is a downside the body is missing essential electrolytes including magnesium, potassium and salt in the process. Depression has been related to low electrolyte levels. Hacking the electrolyte levels is fairly simple. Make sure you get 2 to 2 1⁄2 teaspoons of salt a day (preferably Himalayan pink salt), and consider adding potassium (200-800g/day) and magnesium. Read more on how to detect a magnesium shortage and the right magnesium sources here.
What to do if you feel down on your Keto
1. Get backing
Here's the number one thing you should remember about mental health. It is not an area you want to navigate by yourself. If you have started feeling depressed after a low-carb diet, it is important that you reach out for support. That may be in the form of a trusted member of the family or close friend or therapist. There is a lot that can induce stress, and it will encourage you to sift through potential triggers and work up a game plan or speak to someone.
2. Eat a variety of low toxin, anti-inflammatory foods
To improve your attitude you want to concentrate on high-quality foods, good fats and lots of vegetables.
3. Do a Cyclic Ketosis
Cyclical ketosis (aka carb cycling) involves one day of the week, carbo-loading. The remaining 6 days you stick to the standard low-carb keto diet plan. The addition of healthy carbs such as sweet potatoes and white rice once a week brings many benefits, including improved mood. Keto follow is easier when you can satisfy your carb cravings periodically and enjoy the occasional meal out. Some carbs, particularly resistant starch, feed your good bacteria and a balanced gut is the equivalent of a balanced mood. Here, find out all you need to know about carb cycling and how to do it.
4. Take supplements to boost mood
Consider taking supplements such as zinc, glutathione and l-tyrosine to boost mood. A highly potent 5-HTP(5-hydroxytryptophan) supplement improves serotonin production in the brain, which can help regulate the mood and boost sleep. Note, never quit taking the prescribed drug without consulting the doctor first.