Keto Diet and Psychiatry

Dr. Weeks’ Comment: We know that all psychiatric ailments are made worse by inflammation. Inflammation amplifies the symptoms of all mental illnesses and we also know that seed nutrition is ketogenic (the seed is mostly oil) and we know that the ketogenic diet is… anti-inflammatory.

So if you or anyone you know suffers with depression or anxiety or ANY psychiatric disease, join the Revolution if Nutrition and Eat the Seed!

Can a Ketogenic Diet Benefit Patients With Mental Health Disorders?

A review of research reveals that a while ketogenic diet may hold some promise for individuals with mental health disorders, additional studies are necessary.

By Psychiatry Advisor Contributing Writer 

Publish Date August 30, 2019

For more than 50 years, researchers have examined the effect of a ketogenic diet on patients with behavioral health disorders.1 Despite this breadth of research, most of the studies have lacked depth, consisting mostly of case reports, animal studies, and small-sample open studies rather than controlled trials.1 Although researchers remain cautious, a review of research reveals that the popular diet may hold some promise for individuals with mental health disorders.

How Does the Ketogenic Diet Affect the Brain?

The ketogenic diet is an established option for treatment-resistant epilepsy, as evidenced by a range of studies, including controlled trials.1 The diet also has shown promise for managing other brain-based disorders, such as Parkinson disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, and chronic headaches as well as for metabolic disorders such as obesity, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.2

Unfortunately, it is unclear how ketogenic diets work to control seizures, let alone how they may improve psychiatric symptoms.2 It may pertain to the presence of ketones, reduction in blood sugar, reduction in insulin and other growth-promoting hormones, or the combination of all of these.2 Other theories include altered neurotransmitter levels, changes in electrolyte gradients (lower intracellular sodium and calcium), reduction in markers of inflammation, and improved mitochondrial function.2

“The general consensus is that the brain functions more cleanly and efficiently when a significant portion of its energy comes from ketones, calming overactive and overly reactive brain cells,” Georgia Ede, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist specializing in nutrition-focused counseling, explained in Psychology Today.2

What the Research Reveals

A review of the literature reveals the following about the ketogenic diet’s reaction with diseases1:

  • Anxiety: Exogenous ketone supplementation reduced anxiety-related behaviors in a rat model.
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: In a controlled trial of the ketogenic diet in dogs with comorbid epilepsy, both conditions significantly improved.
  • Autism-spectrum disorder: An open-label study in children reported no significant improvement, yet one case study reported “a pronounced and sustained response.” Further, in 4 controlled animal studies, the ketogenic diet significantly reduced autism-related behaviors in mice and rats.
  • Bipolar disorder: One case study reported a reduction in symptomatology whereas a second case study reported no improvement.
  • Depression: The ketogenic diet significantly reduced depression-like behaviors in rat and mice models in 2 controlled studies.
  • Schizophrenia: An open-label study in female patients found reduced symptoms after 2 weeks of the ketogenic diet whereas a single case study reported no improvement; however, 3 weeks of the ketogenic diet in a mouse study normalized pathological behaviors.

The Bostock review did not include studies regarding how the ketogenic diet affects dementia and Alzheimer disease. A 6-week study of a low-carbohydrate diet in persons with mild cognitive impairment saw improvement in verbal memory, with greater benefits for persons who achieved higher ketone levels.2 The cognition and function of a man with Alzheimer disease “significantly improved” with the use of ketone supplements during a 20-month case study.2

A review of the effect of the ketogenic diet on patients with epilepsy concluded that3:

  • Subjective assessment of patients found cognitive improvements with the ketogenic diet treatment, particularly in the domains of alertness, attention, and global cognition;
  • Studies that used objective neuropsychological tests, however, confirmed benefits in alertness but found no improvement in global cognition;
  • The duration of the ketogenic diet treatment appears to have a positive effect on the degree of cognitive improvement; and
  • Because patient compliance with the ketogenic diet is generally low, this may lead to a bias in the research….

…. SUMMARY Most researchers agree that low-carbohydrate diets can help stabilize brain chemistry, particularly for patients who are not responding to other treatments. Psychiatrists interested in recommending the ketogenic diet to a patient may benefit from consulting with a dietitian or primary care provider with expertise in ketogenic diets.2


  1. Bostock EC, Kirkby KC, Taylor BV. The current status of the ketogenic diet in psychiatryFront Psychiatry. 2017;8:43.
  2. Ede, G. (2017). Ketogenic diets for psychiatric disorders: a new 2017 reviewPsychology Today. [Accessed 9 Aug. 2019].
  3. van Berkel AA, Ijff DM, Verkuyl JM. Cognitive benefits of the ketogenic diet in patients with epilepsy: a systematic overviewEpilepsy Behav. 2018;87:69-77. 

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