The article is a subjective view on this topic written by writers specializing in medical writing.
It may reflect on a personal journey surrounding struggles with an illness or medical condition, involve product comparisons, diet considerations, or other health-related opinions.
Although the view is entirely that of the writer, it is based on academic experiences and scientific research they have conducted; it is fact-checked by a team of degreed medical experts, and validated by sources attached to the article.
The numbers in parenthesis (1,2,3) will take you to clickable links to related scientific papers.
Keto Diet For Brain Health 2023 – How Does Ketogenic Diet Boost Brain Health?
Have you ever come across the ketogenic diet? It’s a diet that requires you to take not more than 30 grams of carbohydrates (carbs) each day. It means your plate goes from having loads of carbs to having more fats.
This article teaches the benefits of the ketogenic diet for the brain and body. You will get to know some of the foods to eat to improve brain health and the side effects of the diet.
Keto Diet For Brain Health
There’s substantial research proving ketogenic diets are quite beneficial in tackling certain brain dysfunctions. The presence of ketone bodies has a neuroprotective effect on the brain. In addition, ketone bodies enhance the function of mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell, and reduce inflammatory chemicals in the blood, acting to maintain good brain function.
The brain disorders helped by the ketogenic diet are conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s Disease.
What Are Keto Diet Benefits For Brain Health?
Alzheimer’s Disease is a condition that affects brain health. This form of dementia causes the brain to develop tangles and plaques. As it progresses, you continue to experience memory loss. The brain becomes insulin resistant and can’t utilize glucose as before.
A study shows that increased energy metabolism benefits the brain by boosting cognitive functions and memory. The study which took three months included patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease. They went on the Ketogenic diet and also took an MCT oil supplement. The study group on the ketogenic diet gained 4.1 points on the Alzheimer’s Assessment scale during the diet but reverted back to normal after discontinuing the Ketogenic diet.
With continuous research on the health benefits of ketogenic diets, it’s evident that it helps older adults with Alzheimer’s Disease. They experience better memory, improved brain function, and in some cases, relief from migraine symptoms after reducing dietary carbohydrates. Plus, they shed body weight, which is quite healthy for most well-nourished adults.
Certain brain disorders can have devastating consequences on your well-being. Such illnesses include epilepsy which causes you to experience seizures. These seizures cause your body to experience uncontrollable jerking movements. One such form of epilepsy particularly responsive to ketogenic diets is drug-resistant epilepsy.
Here is where ketogenic diets come in handy. The most popular is the Classic Ketogenic Diet used in many epilepsy centers. This low-carb intake shows evidence of reduced seizures, especially among children.
In 2009, a study was conducted among children with epilepsy. The results were quite encouraging as 90% of the children experienced fewer seizures after they began the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet.
But, the Classic Ketogenic Diet needs to be administered under a doctor’s supervision. This is crucial even with the diet working to maintain better brain function.
Parkinson’s Disease (PD)
The ketogenic diet may play a role in the mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and neuroinflammation found in PD. A randomized, controlled 8-week study conducted where a ketogenic diet was provided to a group of PD patients showed decreased day-time fatigue and an increase in cognitive functioning compared to a group following a low-fat diet. While more research is needed, the role of ketone diets in PD is encouraging.
What Is A Ketogenic Diet?
The human body and brain require a source of energy to function. A popular belief is that the only energy source for the brain is glucose. However, with the ketogenic diets, it’s evident that ketone bodies are another source.
Ketone bodies come about when the body begins to digest the fatty acids you have. The body normally tends to store fat to use later in a high-calorie or high-carb diet. However, when you choose a low-carb intake such as found in the keto diet, the body uses the extra fat for fuel.
Many who turn to the diet do so because ketogenic diets affect weight loss. However, there are numerous other benefits that you can derive from such a low-carb diet.
The diet limits the number of carbs you take to less than 15-30 grams each day or 5-10% of total calories. A stricter form of the ketogenic diet is the zero-carb diet
The goal is to ensure the body goes through ketosis. Ketosis is an energy metabolism state during which your tissues have a higher level of ketone bodies. Ketogenic diets differ from the standard low-carb diet that requires the body to still rely on glucose for energy.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Keto Diet?
Apart from improving brain function, numerous other benefits come with Ketogenic diets. These include:
Perhaps the reason why keto diets are quite popular is because of weight loss. By reducing carb intake, you effectively enable the body to burn body fat. Low-carb diets work to reduce your water weight and fat levels.
Lower Insulin Levels
Having high glucose and insulin levels can be quite dangerous. Such situations cause the body to develop ailments like type 2 diabetes, heart problems, and obesity. That’s why it’s crucial to find a way to lower insulin levels in the body.
The keto diet is among the safest and most effective ways to achieve this goal. The keto diet is proving quite useful for people with diabetes or insulin resistance. By reducing the number of carbs you eat, you can lower insulin levels and maintain low blood sugar at the same time.
Combat PCOS Symptoms
Some women suffer from a hormonal imbalance condition known as PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). It means they have an excess of the male hormone and experience ovary dysfunction.
Getting a PCOS diagnosis is important for women who have these symptoms and aren’t sure of the cause. After the diagnosis, you can use a low-carb, high-fat diet to manage these symptoms.
A study done in 2005 showed how effective this diet can be for women with PCOS. Being on a Keto diet helped these women in many ways, including:
- Balanced hormones in the body
- Body fat reduction
- Better insulin levels
Better Heart Health
People with heart disease are cautious about the food they eat. Heart disease affects people with lots of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the body. However, good cholesterol is quite essential for certain body functions, such as building healthy cells.
However, when you have loads of LDL cholesterol in the body, you are at risk of developing heart disease. It so happens that the bad cholesterol that your body stores ends up in your blood vessels. As more fat accumulates in this area, it becomes hard for your heart to pump blood.
By relying on a keto diet, you can eat healthier foods. As a result, you get to lower the LDL in your blood vessels. You can work with your dietician and doctor to develop the best foods to eat to improve your heart health.
Improve Metabolic Syndrome
Adults with metabolic syndrome experience many health issues such as high blood pressure. Going on a keto diet improves their chances of experiencing better health and wellness. When you develop metabolic syndrome, it’s a sign of poor health.
As a result, you tend to gain weight and risk developing type 2 diabetes. But, when you lower carbs and increase fats, you can shed weight. You experience better health and reduce the chances of developing these chronic illnesses.
Foods To Eat On A Ketogenic Diet
A keto diet means you lower the number of carbs you take in and increase fats. There are certain foods you can eat that suit this change, including:
While vegetables are good for you, some contain lots of starch. It’s best to steer clear of them and eat foods high in veggies like bell peppers, zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms, spinach, and green beans.
A Keto diet is all about increasing healthy fats in your meals. Cheese is among the best options to improve the levels of fatty acids you take. It has loads of benefits, such as increasing calcium in your body. The downside is that it is also full of saturated fat.
Drizzle some healthy olive oil on salads or cook your keto meals with it. Olive oil is a wonderful source of healthy fats and contains loads of oleic acid. Oleic acid is quite effective in preventing heart disease. This is an example of increasing healthy fats in your Ketogenic diet so that saturated fats do not take over the diet.
There are many berries, including strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries. These berries are excellent because they’re fruits with fewer carbs. They suit a keto diet and help in controlling metabolic syndrome.
MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride)
You can use a fat supplement with medium-chain triglycerides to increase your intake of healthy fats. MCT oil is much better at producing ketones in your body.
Side Effects Of Ketogenic Diets
A Variety Of Diets
Nutritionally Balanced Meals
Food, Goal Setting, And Nutritional Education. All In One!
Trifecta helps you every step of the way with the food, goal setting, and nutritional education you need to transform your health inside & out.
The ketogenic diet affects the body in many ways. Some are positive, while others are negative. It’s always worth it to note the side effects of the keto diet.
One of the most common side effects of ketogenic diets is the keto flu. The moment your body enters a state of ketosis, you trigger the keto flu. This low-carb flu causes you to experience symptoms such as:
- Muscle aches
Only after the body learns to rely on the ketone body will you start to feel much better.
It’s quite normal for your mood to be all over the place when you take in fewer carbs. The brain requires carbohydrates to produce serotonin. This is a brain chemical responsible for being in a good mood and feeling happy.
Brace yourself for bouts of constipation, especially as your body adjusts to the keto diet. Carbs mean having loads of fiber in your meals which helps with regular bowel movements. But, the minute you lower the carb consumption, you also reduce the amount of fiber you eat per meal.
Foods with healthy fats are crucial for the ketogenic diet. The body requires the liver to produce lots of bile to break down the fat for fuel.
However, it would help if you got rid of all the extra bile, which works as a natural laxative resulting in diarrhea. Cooked leafy greens, lime/lemon juice, grapefruit, and aloe vera are excellent in flushing out the bile.
Yeah, there are moments when you’ll wish to switch out your mouth for another. When the body enters ketosis, it produces ketone bodies. These ketones get released from the body through breath which doesn’t smell so great. Some say it gives your breath a “fruity” smell.
Cutting carbs requires lots of self-control as you’ll tend to experience increased cravings. The body does need carbs for certain functions. That’s why reducing carb consumption is better than completely cutting it out of your normal diet.
Ketogenic diets are quite effective and can benefit the human body in many ways compared to a normal diet. Studies show that eating fewer carbs and more fats can help people with Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s, and epilepsy. The meals you eat help to improve memory and cognitive function. ‘
Apart from better brain health, a keto diet can have numerous other benefits to the body. You can shed excess weight leaving you lean and fit. In addition, the keto diet leads to lowered blood sugar and insulin levels in the body.
Other benefits include combating PCOS symptoms, better heart health, and tackling metabolic stress. However, there are some side effects worth noting as you contemplate starting the diet. It’s better to consult your physician before you begin going on keto.
+ 22 sources
Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here
- McDonald, T.J.W. and Cervenka, M.C. (2018). Ketogenic Diets for Adult Neurological Disorders. Neurotherapeutics, [online] 15(4), pp.1018–1031. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6277302/
- Nguyen, T.T., Ta, Q.T.H., Nguyen, T.K.O., Nguyen, T.T.D. and Van Giau, V. (2020). Type 3 Diabetes and Its Role Implications in Alzheimer’s Disease. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, [online] 21(9), p.3165. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7246646/
- Taylor, M.K., Sullivan, D.K., Mahnken, J.D., Burns, J.M. and Swerdlow, R.H. (2017). Feasibility and efficacy data from a ketogenic diet intervention in Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions, [online] 4(1), pp.28–36. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6021549/
- Krikorian, R., Shidler, M.D., Dangelo, K., Couch, S.C., Benoit, S.C. and Clegg, D.J. (2012). Dietary ketosis enhances memory in mild cognitive impairment. Neurobiology of Aging, [online] 33(2), pp.425.e19–425.e27. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3116949/
- Di Lorenzo, C., Coppola, G., Sirianni, G. and Pierelli, F. (2013). Short term improvement of migraine headaches during ketogenic diet: a prospective observational study in a dietician clinical setting. The Journal of Headache and Pain, [online] 14(Suppl 1), p.P219. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3620251/
- Nih.gov. (2018). The Epilepsies and Seizures: Hope Through Research | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. [online] Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Hope-Through-Research/Epilepsies-and-Seizures-Hope-Through
- Jackson, C.F., Makin, S.M., Marson, A.G. and Michael Patrick Kerr (2015). Non-pharmacological interventions for people with epilepsy and intellectual disabilities. The Cochrane library, [online] 2015(9). doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.cd005502.pub3.
- Misiewicz Runyon, A. and So, T.-Y. (2012). The Use of Ketogenic Diet in Pediatric Patients with Epilepsy. ISRN Pediatrics, [online] 2012, pp.1–10. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3434405/
- Kossoff, E.H. and Rho, J.M. (2009). Ketogenic diets: Evidence for short- and long-term efficacy. Neurotherapeutics, [online] 6(2), pp.406–414. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4071763/
- Pavón, S., Lázaro, E., Martínez, O., Amayra, I., López-Paz, J.F., Caballero, P., Al-Rashaida, M., Luna, P.M., García, M., Pérez, M., Berrocoso, S., Rodríguez, A.A. and Pérez-Núñez, P. (2020). Ketogenic diet and cognition in neurological diseases: a systematic review. Nutrition Reviews, [online] 79(7), pp.802–813. Available at: https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/79/7/802/6044704?login=true
- Oh, R., Gilani, B. and Uppaluri, K.R. (2021). Low Carbohydrate Diet. [online] Nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537084/
- Paoli, A. (2014). Ketogenic Diet for Obesity: Friend or Foe? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, [online] 11(2), pp.2092–2107. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3945587/
- Volek, J.S. and Westman, E.C. (2002). Very-low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets revisited. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, [online] 69(11), pp.849–849. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12430970/
- Alarim, R.A., Alasmre, F.A., Alotaibi, H.A., Alshehri, M.A. and Hussain, S.A. (2020). Effects of the Ketogenic Diet on Glycemic Control in Diabetic Patients: Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials. Cureus. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7641470/
- Mavropoulos, J.C., Yancy, W.S., Hepburn, J. and Westman, E.C. (2005). The effects of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet on the polycystic ovary syndrome: A pilot study. Nutrition & Metabolism, [online] 2(1). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1334192/
- Howard, B.V., Robbins, D.C., Sievers, M.L., Lee, E.T., Rhoades, D., Devereux, R.B., Cowan, L.D., Gray, R.S., Welty, T.K., Go, O.T. and Howard, Wm.J. (2000). LDL Cholesterol as a Strong Predictor of Coronary Heart Disease in Diabetic Individuals With Insulin Resistance and Low LDL. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, [online] 20(3), pp.830–835. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10712410/
- Kosinski, C. and Jornayvaz, F. (2017). Effects of Ketogenic Diets on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Evidence from Animal and Human Studies. Nutrients, [online] 9(5), p.517. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5452247/
- Gershuni, V.M., Yan, S.L. and Medici, V. (2018). Nutritional Ketosis for Weight Management and Reversal of Metabolic Syndrome. Current Nutrition Reports, [online] 7(3), pp.97–106. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6472268/
- Dokkum, W.V., De La Guéronnière, V., Schaafsma, G., Bouley, C., Luten, J. and Latgé, C. (1996). Bioavailability of calcium of fresh cheeses, enteral food and mineral water. A study with stable calcium isotopes in young adult women. British Journal of Nutrition, [online] 75(6), pp.893–903. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8774234/
- Perdomo, L., Beneit, N., Otero, Y.F., Escribano, Ó., Díaz-Castroverde, S., Gómez-Hernández, A. and Benito, M. (2015). Protective role of oleic acid against cardiovascular insulin resistance and in the early and late cellular atherosclerotic process. Cardiovascular Diabetology, [online] 14(1). Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26055507/
- Jeong, H.S., Hong, S.J., Lee, T.-B., Kwon, J.-W., Jeong, J.T., Joo, H.J., Park, J.H., Ahn, C.-M., Yu, C.W. and Lim, D.-S. (2014). Effects of Black Raspberry on Lipid Profiles and Vascular Endothelial Function in Patients with Metabolic Syndrome. Phytotherapy Research, [online] 28(10), pp.1492–1498. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24706588/
- Mohan, V. and Shilpa, J. (2018). Ketogenic diets: Boon or bane? Indian Journal of Medical Research, [online] 148(3), p.251. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6251269/