Concepts like Ketogenic Diet, Paleo Diet and LCHF (Low Carb High Fat) Diets have gained popularity over the last few years. Far from being fad diets, these are scientifically proven wholesome diets that offer a plethora of health benefits. One interesting area of research is the link between Ketogenic Diet and Depression alleviation. Scientific research scholarship points to a number of mechanisms through which mood disorders are mitigated. The following are 8 powerful reasons for people suffering from the blues to give Keto a serious try:
Ketones, which are the fatty acid derived fuel source for the body, burn much more cleanly and efficiently than glucose (the dominant fuel source in high carbohydrate diets). By leaving fewer byproducts, Ketone metabolism is less taxing on the nervous system over the long term. This in turn will have a benign effect on neurotransmitter systems which regulate mood.
A Wonderful Anti-inflammatory
There is consensus among mental healthcare practitioners that one of the causes of Depression is the inflammation of the central nervous system (CNS). By offering a clean and efficient fuel in the form of Ketones, a Ketogenic Diet drastically reduces inflammation, and in consequence, brightens mood.
In a Ketogenic Diet, the energy metabolism is significantly altered, eliminating the cyclical ‘sugar highs’ and ‘sugar lows’ of the traditional carbohydrate rich diet. So one gets a steady supply of energy throughout the day rather than getting a burst of it after a meal followed by deflation. Most people suffering from Depression also show symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Hence the reduction in fatigue seen in the Keto Diet will certainly alleviate their depressive symptoms.
Helps in Weight Loss
Many people who suffer from Depression also have issues with their body image. They are unreasonably critical of how they look and tend to exaggerate what little bodily imperfections they have. Ketogenic Diet’s reputation as a weight loss aid comes in handy. When practitioners lose weight and get in shape, their self-esteem and self-confidence gets a boost. So one can expect a general improvement in their mood.
It is a less acknowledged fact that the Keto diet resolves longstanding sleep disorders. Although the mechanism is somewhat unclear, it is speculated that the general neuroprotective effect, alongside its anti-inflammatory quality, aids the regulation of neurotransmitters responsible for maintaining the sleep-wake cycle. Since insomnia is a recurrent symptom among the bouquet of markers identifying Depression, any improvement in this area is bound to have a cascade effect on general health and wellbeing.
Curbs Food Cravings
When going through a bout of Depression, people tend to binge-eat sugary foods as a way of consoling themselves. Far from giving comfort these episodes of binge eating actually worsens Depression by creating dependencies and also contributing to weight gain. But under the Keto regimen, the steady supply of energy preempts sugar cravings and impulsive eating. The individual’s relationship with food changes from one of comfort-giver to that of fuel/energy supply. While the former relationship is tied to emotional deficiencies, the latter is a detached and respectful equation with food. It is easy to guess which of these two relationships lead to healthy psychological states.
People who’ve been on the Ketogenic Diet for several months will vouch for how it helps deal with chronic pain. A combination of its neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties is credited for this effect. And for an individual prone to Depression, chronic aches and pains can be a compounding factor, aggravating the already debilitating emotional pain that they are going through. By softening physical pain, Ketogenic Diet offers a breathing space to work on emotional issues and ultimately heal their Depression.
Ketogenic Diet, by virtue of supplying energy-efficient and healthier fuel Ketones to the brain, improves cognitive ability. For people suffering from Depression, ‘Brain Fog’ or muddled thinking is one of the telling symptoms. Enhanced cognition brings clarity of thought and helps pulling the depressed individual out of neurotic morbid thoughts that they are all too prone to manifest.
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The ketogenic diet affects the social behavior of young male rats.Kasprowska-Liśkiewicz D, Liśkiewicz AD, Nowacka-Chmielewska MM, Nowicka J, Małecki A, Barski JJ.Physiol Behav. 2017 Oct 1.
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