How the Ketogenic Diet Affects Mental Health

A keto diet probably can’t cause depression. However, there is a chance a low-carb diet can have an impact on your overall mental health.

“Going keto” seems to get trendier each year, but the low carb, high fat life isn’t without its controversies. For instance, some say ketosis can trigger depression. Others claim the ketogenic diet boosts mental health.

So, is keto depression a thing? How does swapping carbs for fat actually affect mental health?

Let’s dig into the research on keto and depression. 🤓

Short answer? If anything, keto might help alleviate rather than cause depression.

A few things to know:

More research is needed to fully understand the link between keto and depression.

It seems like keto diets might help manage depression symptoms. But there are also anecdotal reports of keto depression — basically, feeling low while on the ketogenic diet.

It’s no secret that what you eat can influence everything from hormones to mood. Research indicates that eating keto can relieve epilepsy symptoms, but studies on other benefits for the brain are ongoing.

Here’s what we know so far about how keto affects mental health.

Increases GABA production

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter (a brain-messaging chemical) that affects how your brain experiences stress and anxiety.

A 2011 research review suggests that low GABA levels can cause or worsen depression. More recently, a small 2020 study indicated that stimulating GABA production might relieve depression symptoms.

So, what stimulates GABA production? Yoga, apparently. But also ketosis.

Scientists are actively investigating whether a ketogenic diet could help the 30 percent of folks with major depressive disorder whose condition is resistant to drug-based therapies. Kinda cool, right?

Might improve mitochondrial functions

“Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.” — every high school biology teacher ever

As you can imagine, your cells’ power source is kinda important. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been linked to many health probs, including depression.

But a keto diet seems to have a positive impact on folks with mitochondrial diseases. And if the keto diet turns out to be…

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