How Ketosis Treats Mental Health Disorders
Ketosis is a natural metabolic state that allows your body to burn fat for fuel. During ketosis, your body produces ketones from your fat stores, which can be used for energy when there are no more carbohydrates left to burn. Although you always produce a small amount of ketones, you can dramatically increase your ketones (and the fat you burn) by reducing the calories you eat, fasting, reducing carbohydrates in your diet, or increasing your activity with exercise.
When practiced regularly, entering ketosis has countless benefits, including weight loss, decreased inflammation and improved mental clarity. Maintaining a state of ketosis can even help improve mental health.
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a neurotransmitter in the brain that has the primary role of improving mood, increasing relaxation, and alleviating pain. Low levels of GABA have been linked to anxiety and mood disorders. Research has shown that being in a state of ketosis may increase the production of GABA, therefore helping reduce symptoms of both anxiety and depression.
Another study found that maintaining ketosis for prolonged periods of time may reduce intracellular sodium and calcium levels, which is similar to how some mood-stabilizing treatments work for type II bipolar disorder.
The ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate acts as an antioxidant and protects against oxidative stress through direct and indirect mechanisms, which may reduce inflammation and oxidative stress associated with depression.
A 2018 study on Parkinson’s demonstrated that Parkinson’s patients on a ketogenic diet showed greater improvements in their non-motor symptoms than the high-carbohydrate diet group.
A 2019 study supported that a ketogenic diet may present a novel therapeutic approach to treating schizophrenia through restoring brain energy metabolism.