Is the Keto Diet the Secret to Better Brain Health?
The most common issues affecting brain health—dementia, memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease—all have slightly different symptoms and etiologies, yet are all the result of some type of reduced brain cell functioning or deterioration. Science hasn’t had much success to date in preventing or slowing brain conditions like these, but following a ketogenic diet is being suggested as a potential way to do this. Here, we explore if there’s any truth to it.
What Is the Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb (less than 50g daily), high-fat eating plan, and the goal of the diet is to put the body in a state of ketosis. Similar to what happens during fasting, a body in ketosis has little glucose to use for energy due to insufficient carbohydrate intake. This forces the body to break fat stores down into ketone bodies for energy. The brain normally relies only on glucose for fuel, but it can use ketone bodies as a substitute in this situation.
Can the Keto Diet Help with Certain Brain Conditions?
Although it has recently resurfaced as a trendy approach to weight loss, the ketogenic diet was actually developed to treat epilepsy almost 100 years ago, and it is still routinely prescribed to those with epilepsy to reduce seizure frequency, often working better than medication. In fact, one study with children indicated a “nearly complete (>90%) resolution” in seizures for half of the participants—effects that epilepsy medications haven’t been able to come close to replicating.
Scientists still don’t fully understand the diet’s exact mechanisms responsible for reducing seizures, but it appears that ketosis triggers a metabolic shift in fuel sources to influence neurotransmitter activity and improve or protect neuron functioning. Since most forms of brain disease and deterioration stem from deteriorating neuron functioning, the suggestion that the keto diet could have a positive effect on brain health (like we’ve seen in some epilepsy patients) seems relatively plausible.
Until 10 to 15 years ago, most research looking at the ketogenic diet’s effect on the brain was from an epilepsy perspective, so the research to-date on the diet’s effect on other brain disorders is still small (plus, not many human studies have been done). However, the results have been promising enough to trigger additional studies, particularly in regards to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases.
What Research Suggests About the Keto Diet’s Potential
Continue reading this article over on Cooking Light's blog : Is the Keto Diet the Secret to Better Brain Health? I will highlight what research suggests about the keto diet and it's effect on Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease and other Memory Disorders. You don't want to miss it!