Metabolic Health

Less Depression & Anxiety on Keto Diet, Study Finds

by Mike Mutzel


Recent research has uncovered compelling evidence suggesting that adopting a low-carb ketogenic diet may lead to significant reductions in symptoms of depression and anxiety. Explore how making dietary changes could positively impact not just our physical health, but also our mental well-being.

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Antonio, J., Newmire, D. E., Stout, J. R., Antonio, B., Gibbons, M., Lowery, L. M., … Arent, S. M. (2024). Common questions and misconceptions about caffeine supplementation: what does the scientific evidence really show? Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition21(1).

Show Transcript:

As always for being here on a Monday. We're starting a little bit earlier than normal. We're going to talk about a recently published paper finding that a low carb ketogenic diet improves mental health and mental wellness symptoms in people who are prone to anxiety or depression. Let's look at these study that was recently published about a week and a half ago. The title of this paper is Ketogenic Diet has a Positive Association with Mental and Emotional Wellbeing in the general Population. So that's what we're going to dive into today. I think this is really fascinating amid a mental health crisis. We know that suicides drug overdoses, we know that prescriptions for mental issues such as psychiatric medications and anti-anxiety medications are at an all time high. Even in adolescence, it's estimated that about 50% of women over 50 are taking more than one psychiatric medication.

So it's time that we focus on solutions. So we're going to talk about this paper right here, dive into it. If you're enjoying the content, you know what to do, hit that like button. Let me know where you're viewing this from. We're starting a little bit earlier today because we have some other things going on this afternoon, but hopefully you can hear me okay and the sound is good. Please let me know in the chat section if everything is going well and dandy and let's get into it. So here is the paper right here. You can download this for free right on the interwebs. I'm going to zoom in a little bit more for those of you watching this on YouTube. So this was published by some folks, some investigators in the uk. And here's the highlights, A ketogenic diet, improved mood, I'm sorry, lemme start over.

Ketogenic diet, improved mood including calmness, contentness alertness. Compared to other diet controls, individuals on ketogenic diet are less anxious and depressed compared to other diet controls. Cognitive and emotional stress is lower in individuals on ketogenic diet. Compared to other diet controls, participants following a ketogenic diet are less lonely compared to other diet controls. Okay, so really fascinating stuff here by folks at North Umbr University outside of the uk. I think this is just an incredible analysis to help us better understand nutritional strategies that can improve mental health. As I mentioned, I don't need to tell you there is a crisis particularly among children, adolescents, teens, a lot of mental illness and people are unwell. So that is where we are going. Let's dive into it. A ketogenic diet is a high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate diet, and it's been used for the better part of a hundred years now for the treatment of refractory epilepsy.

It does make sense then that individuals who are prone to anxiety or depression might experience some cognitive benefit. Now, part of this is because of the mechanisms in which the metabolic approach, the metabolic signatures that the body has to adapt to as a result of a low carb nutrition status. The ketones improve the GABA synthesis in the brain. GABA, of course, is a inhibitory neurotransmitter, a calming neurotransmitter, and so there's a lot of good evidence to suggest that mechanistically a ketogenic diet might improve mental health and mental health related issues. But in this analysis, they tracked over 230 some odd different people for several months and found that those who self-reported eating and low carb ketogenic style diet, they had improvements in anxiety and depression. And there's some more statistics here if you're interested. About 7% of the world's population is experiencing anxiety and depression.

This is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is the number one cause of premature mortality throughout the world. And so we need solutions for this, not just antidepressants and things like that. There's a lot of good evidence to suggest that metabolic approaches to improving mental health is not just a pie in the sky idea. It may be even more effective than different medications that are commonly being prescribed for individuals with anxiety and depression. So essentially what you have here is participants were recruited as part of an investigation in the exclusion criteria applied to individuals with preexisting or clinically diagnosed mood anxiety disorders to developmental and neurodegenerative conditions. Individuals following a ketogenic diet had had to adhere to this lifestyle for at least one week, and participants were recruited for cohort one between the years February, 2021 and October, 2022, and for cohort two between January, 2022 and July of 2022.

Okay, so all in total, as I mentioned, it's about 200 different participants that were in this analysis. And essentially what they found is that individuals who self-reported being on a ketogenic diet had less symptoms of loneliness, improvements in mental contentness and calmness and reductions in anxiety and depression compared to individuals eating a different dietary approach. Now we can get into the analysis here and look at some of the facts and figures and so forth. Some of this dense stuff and these different modeling we don't really need to go into, but I think this is incredibly fasting. So here's again, the different controls, other dietary approaches, people eating a plant-based diet or Mediterranean style diets or a vegan diet, et cetera. We're part of these other dietary approaches and they're trying to disentangle specifically what effect a ketogenic diet has on mood and mental health. Now, I think that's important because not too many people eating a vegan or vegetarian diet are going to be in a state of ketosis because the higher carb content of those particular diets.


So let's look at the demographic information and also look at the materials statistics here. This is table one, the demographic. So these are young individuals. The median age was in folks in their forties, subjective health ratings and so forth. Healthy mix between male and female, a little bit more heavily weighted towards the female side of things. And here's where things get quite interesting when we start to look at the effects that the ketogenic diet might have. So again, folks, if you're here now live, hit that like button. As always, I appreciate you all for being here. Let's go into the analysis of the two different cohorts. The investigators say, we found that individuals on a ketogenic diet significantly less frequently consumed food items considered non suitable for keto diet. So they're not having cookies, crackers, ice cream, candy and things like that. These foods that by the way, I think it's important to just acknowledge how might a ketogenic diet, in addition to increasing levels of GABA in the brain impact cognitive wellbeing, what turns out that when your blood sugar fluctuates, your mood fluctuates as a result of the concomitant increase in stress related hormones.

I shared on my Instagram last week, and we can check that out if you would like, there is a correlation with high glucose levels in aberrant glucose control and violent criminality. And so I think that's important for us to acknowledge that our blood sugar levels impact impulsiveness and decision making. So when you eat in a low carb style diet, whether it's carnivore or keto, low carb, even paleo, your blood sugar is not fluctuating erratically throughout the day. In contrast to if you're eating a standard American diet that is enriched in hyper palatable processed foods and seed oils and sugars and things, your blood sugar is going to have these peaks and troughs and there's going to be an associated reaction with your neurochemistry, adrenaline, noradrenaline and different neuro molecules that would impact your mental wellbeing. And so that is mechanistically why this makes sense that when you eat a lower carb diet, you're going to have a much more stable even mood.

So they say individuals on ketogenic diet followed the keto diet for about 23 months. Overall health benefits improved, weight loss and so forth were the main reasons. And the individuals found these investigators found that there was a statistical association with mood related issues in individuals who are adhering to a ketogenic diet, more mental calmness, less anxiety, less depression. So here's some of these tables and statistics as you can sort of see here. Now, I think as we continue to go down, I think this is kind of interesting, a lot of people are now identifying as eating a carnivore diet or some sort of intermittent fasting and so forth. But here is the association with mood and a ketogenic diet. So you can see here a much tighter correlation with better mood in individuals who adhere to a ketogenic diet compared to individuals who eat a different style diet.

And this might be vegan, this might be Mediterranean, this might be pescatarian, this might be vegetarian. And so what you see here is just a stronger correlation with better mood scores. So I think that is quite interesting. These are standardized scales that assess mood and mental wellness and so forth, stress related scores and much more. So I think the take home here can be sort of visualized quite eloquently right here, the level of anxiety and depression. And so this is, again, if you're going to read this, this is figure six on page 31 of this 48 page analysis. You can see here anxiety and depression are much lower in individuals who adhere to a ketogenic low carb style diet compared to individuals who are eating higher levels of carbs and likely more processed foods. Now of course, you can eat a junk food keto diet.

Not all ketogenic diets are, I would consider equal. There's a lot of junk food, keto and keto crackers and keto treats and garbage, which I generally don't recommend. So eating a whole foods low carb style diet is associated with lower depression scores, lower anxiety scores, and more evenness of emotions. And this likely has to do with the fact that blood sugar levels are not oscillating because again, what happens when your blood glucose goes really high and it drops your adrenal glands and your brain need to release adrenaline and nor adrenaline. And these are stimulatory hormones that are associated with anxiety and increase hyper perception to stress. And so if you are one that is prone to anxiety, depression, and overwhelmed by life stressors, as you can see with these figures, it makes sense that you might want to eat a lower carb style diet because it turns out that your evenness of mood, your mood and emotions will be more stable.

So I think that is really, really interesting about that. So let's get into the discussion. The presence study aimed to investigate the differences between people in a general population currently participating in a ketogenic diet to those who were not on calmness, contentness alertness, cognitive and emotional stress, depression, anxiety and loneliness. We hypothesized that people following ketogenic diet would have a more positive profile on all outcome variables based on findings demonstrated in clinical populations. We found that people following a ketogenic diet had significantly better psychological wellbeing, including calmness, contentness, alertness, stress, depression, anxiety, and loneliness in a general population. These differences for all measurements except for loneliness. When we controlled for identified group differences with any small subpopulation, we identified the length of ketogenic diet relates to mood and stress, whereas levels of ketosis did not have a significant relationship to the previous dependent scores. Control participants were following various diets.

So no one diet received overrepresentation amongst comparison participants. Alright, so again, incredibly fascinating stuff here. And just anecdotally, the clients that I've worked with over the years that are adhering to a low carb style diet, eating primarily whole foods, they feel better, they have a better outlook on life. They have more even moods and less volatility in their emotions and their mental health. And I was very disappointed and also quite surprised that there has been zero mainstream media coverage of this analysis. This is not a conspiracy theory journal, nor are these investigators part of some Q Anon Conspiracy Club. This is a well-recognized academic institution that is reporting that a low carb style diet improves mental health. Yet the media and health experts at large all recognize that mental health throughout the world, especially in developed countries here such as the US and Canada, the UK, are experiencing a mental health crisis, particularly in children.

Why isn't this getting more attention? Again, the study that we're talking about is featured right here, how a ketogenic style diet improves mental calmness and decreases symptoms of anxiety and depression. I want to get to your questions and just see what sort of information you all have to offer. PHI says, I feel so much better doing keto. Another comment comes along here, if I have a ton of coffee and alcohol when I'm tired and hungry, I get stressed and go insane. So yeah, there's really good evidence and just especially the anecdotal reports from individuals who used to suffer with anxiety, depression and things like that, that experience a lot of benefits when they start removing processed carbs in particular in sugar and refined carbs from their diet. So that is interesting. Just want to offer a quick solution for some of you that are listening live.

If you have a hard time getting into ketosis, if you want to kick some food cravings for say ice cream crackers, sweets in the evening, try the novel Bering Fasting Accelerator by Myo Science. You can test your ketones and other metabolic parameters after taking this formulation. It actually works. It increases ketones and a lot of people have reported more control over their cravings, especially for processed junk food. You can save by going to mayo Use the code podcast at checkout. Berberine has been used for the better part of 3000 years. It affects gut hormones, it affects metabolic health. It's a great tool to help kickstart your lifestyle changes. So friends, I just wanted to hop on relatively quickly here. We've only been streaming now for about 15 minutes. Ample evidence to suggest that if you suffer or you know someone who suffers from anxiety, depression and hyper percept to stress and is constantly overwhelmed with life stressors, they may benefit or you may benefit from cutting out carbs or reducing the amount of carbs that you have in your diet.

Prioritizing protein and healthy fats. That's the take home. Here. We can overanalyze all the statistics and look at all the materials and methods of this particular study. But the take home here is that metabolic health impacts the brain. I have a doctor friend named Norm Schwartz who's a family physician. And when he was going through his residency, he told me this story about a patient in the hospital who was just violent and had to be strapped down to the hospital bed. This individual's glucose was over 250 milligrams per deciliter. And he thought, well, this is really strange. Why is this person behaving so aberly? Their behavior is uncharacteristic? I mean, this is not normal human behavior. And the teaching resident told him, we see this all the time in people who have hyperglycemia, is their moods are incredibly unstable and they are hard to control.

And so again, when we look at the dossier of evidence to suggest that violent criminals have higher levels of glucose and more symptoms and blood work suggestive of reactive hypoglycemia, that that is contributing to their mental health issues and their aberrant moods. So again, the take home here is amid a mental health crisis, we should be encouraging people to consume less sugar, processed carbs and industrial seed oils and all the rest that are deranging their metabolism and contributing to their worsening mental health. So that's it for today, friends, if you enjoyed this content, hit that like button. I know we went live a little bit earlier than normal, but hopefully you got some value from this conversation and we'll catch you on a future live session down the road. Just got a super chat here from Eves Eve, says Mom 85 with dementia is sugar addicted.

I'm doing my best to keep her on pro and fats, protein fats, but can't leave any fruits or carbs out. She gobbles it up. How long until she experiences cravings, how long until the cravings subside? I would give it two to four weeks and some fruits are going to be okay, but try to have some lower glycemic index fruits, maybe berries, raspberries, blueberries. I would stay away from say bananas and melons and some of these things eaves. But yeah, it's going to be hard with a sugar addicted dementia patient because we know that patients with dementia have a lot of mood related issues, can be very impulsive and angry and reactive. And part of that, of course is their neurochemistry, but it most probably could be related to their

Metabolic physiology as well. So great question there, but I would say give it time. You might want to sneak some berberine in there, put some MCT oil in there that could be helpful. Maybe even some exogenous ketones, making sure she's doing a little exercise or walking, especially if she has carbohydrate rich meals, things like that. But essentially what you want to do is get your mother off processed food. I have a lot of friends that work in healthcare and most of their dementia patients are eating Uncrustables and a bunch of snacky junk foods and things like that. So you want to get rid of the sugar and the junk foods. So that would be my advice, but you should see some benefits after two to four weeks. So that's what I would suggest there. So friends, again, appreciate you tuning in live. If you enjoy this content, hit the like button. Thank you for sharing this episode, and we'll catch you on a future show down the road.


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