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  #1   ^
Old Mon, Jul-01-19, 00:52
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Demi Demi is offline
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Default 8 Reasons to Try Low-Carb for Mental Health

Quote:
From Psychology Today
June 30, 2019

8 Reasons to Try Low-Carb for Mental Health

Discover what improving your brain metabolism could do for you.

Georgia Ede MD


Interest in low-carbohydrate and ketogenic diets continues to rise as people discover their potential to help with stubborn physical health problems such as obesity and type two diabetes—but could this same strategy help with mental health problems as well?

Low-carbohydrate diets have tremendous potential in the prevention and management of psychiatric disorders. The field of nutritional psychiatry is admittedly in its infancy, and rigorous clinical trials exploring the effect of dietary changes on mental health are few and far between, but a tremendous amount of science already exists detailing how high-sugar diets jeopardize brain health and how low-carbohydrate diets support brain health.

For people with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD, psychotic disorders, PTSD, autism spectrum disorders and other psychiatric disorders who prefer not to take medication, don’t improve with medication, can’t tolerate or afford medication, only partially benefit from medication, or have bothersome side effects from medication, trying a simple low-carbohydrate diet (or even a stricter ketogenic diet, particularly in cases of more serious or stubborn chronic symptoms) is well worth trying, with very few exceptions. This statement is based on my study of the science in combination with my clinical experience with patients in the real world.

Low-carbohydrate diets are safe for almost everyone and can lead in many cases to significant improvements in psychiatric symptoms. In my professional opinion, their many potential benefits far outweigh their low risk of side effects. When side effects do occur, they are generally harmless and temporary, although there are clear exceptions.

People currently taking psychiatric medication (or medication of any kind) or who have a history of serious mental health symptoms such as suicidal ideation, mania, or psychosis, should not embark on a low-carbohydrate diet without additional information and professional support, as medication levels can be affected and some symptoms may temporarily worsen during the initial weeks of adaptation. If you take psychiatric medication and are considering a low-carbohydrate diet, please read my Psychology Today post "Ketogenic Diets and Psychiatric Medications" and consult with your prescribing clinician.

While dietary changes can’t always completely replace medications, they can improve overall health, and make good sense as a viable alternative to medication in some cases, or as a complement to conventional care in other cases.

Without further ado, here are eight reasons to try a low-carb or ketogenic diet for mental health:

1. Improve blood glucose control.

The higher your blood sugar, the higher your brain sugar . . . so every time your blood sugar spikes to unhealthy highs, you’re flooding your brain tissue with excess glucose. There are many ways that high glucose levels are toxic to brain cells, including the formation of sticky, dysfunctional proteins called “Advanced Glycation End products” or AGEs. Low-carbohydrate diets are very effective at lowering blood glucose levels. Protect your precious neurons from glucotoxicity.

2. Lower blood insulin levels.

Persistently or repeatedly high insulin levels can cause the insulin receptors on the surface of the blood-brain barrier to become insulin-resistant
, meaning they can become damaged, desensitized, and dwindle in number. With fewer healthy, responsive insulin receptors on the surface of the blood-brain barrier to escort insulin into the brain, insulin levels inside the brain will fall. Low brain insulin is dangerous because brain cells require insulin to process glucose and turn it into energy. This sluggish glucose processing problem is called “cerebral glucose hypometabolism”, and it is a major risk factor for neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Low-carbohydrate diets can be very helpful in lowering blood insulin levels. Protect your precious neurons from energy deficits.

3. Reduce inflammation.

High-sugar diets promote excessive, unnecessary inflammation inside the brain, triggering the release of various inflammatory cytokines—tiny SOS signals that recruit first-responder cells to the scene. Inflammation of this type is well established as a root cause of most psychiatric and neurological diseases. Low-carbohydrate diets have been shown to reduce markers of inflammation. Protect your precious neurons from overheating.

4. Boost antioxidant defenses.

High-sugar diets cause excessive, unnecessary oxidative damage. Flooding cells with too much glucose all at once leads to a spilling over of oxygen free radicals, which are normally mopped up by our own natural internal antioxidant molecules (such as glutathione). Left to run amok, these excess free radicals terrorize the cellular neighborhood, damaging proteins, lipids, DNA and other important cell components. They can even damage the blood-brain barrier, allowing risky, uninvited guests into the brain. Low-carbohydrate diets naturally help improve internal antioxidant capacity. Protect your precious neurons from internal attack.

5. Energize mitochondria.

High-sugar diets damage mitochondria, the energy-generating organelles inside brain cells. As a highly metabolically active, electrical organ, the brain is an energy hog, demanding about 20% of the body’s energy supply, despite representing only 2% of the body’s total weight. Mitochondria must be in tip-top shape at all times to supply cells with a steady supply of high-quality energy. Low-carbohydrate diets—particularly ketogenic diets—have been shown to improve the health and vitality of mitochondria. Protect your mighty mitochondria from power failures.

6. Stabilize stress hormones and appetite.

Refined carbohydrates like sugar, flour, fruit juice, and processed cereals place your hormones on an invisible internal roller coaster. Every time your blood sugar and insulin spike to unnaturally high levels, they soon crash back down, triggering the release of stress hormones, including adrenaline. Adrenaline surges, which can occur four to five hours after consuming too much sugar, can contribute to panicky “hypoglycemic” symptoms like anxiety, sweating, shaking, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and carbohydrate cravings. Low-carbohydrate diets help smooth out highs and lows in blood sugar that lead to hormonal instability in the first place. Protect your precious neurons from hormonal havoc.

7. Rebalance neurotransmitters.

It is a little-known fact that high-sugar diets can wreak havoc with neurotransmitter levels in a number of ways, including through disruptive effects on the kynurenine pathway. The kynurenine pathway helps regulate the activity of serotonin, melatonin, dopamine, GABA and glutamate—all important neurotransmitters in symptoms of psychiatric disorders. Diets too high in refined carbohydrate promote inflammation and oxidation (see above), which shifts the brain into emergency mode. The kynurenine pathway responds to the alarm by stealing tryptophan away from its serotonin and melatonin synthesis duties to help generate more glutamate instead. As a result, serotonin, melatonin and GABA activity go down, dopamine activity goes up, and glutamate levels can skyrocket to up to 100 times their baseline levels. You can think of glutamate as the brain’s gas pedal—keeping your foot on this gas pedal for too long too often can cause what is called “glutamate excitotoxicity” which is very damaging to the brain. Ketogenic diets have been shown to regulate neurotransmitter levels and reduce glutamate toxicity. Protect your precious neurons from glutamate overdrive.

More Information

If you are curious to learn more, I wrote a new fully-referenced guide to the science and practice of low-carbohydrate diets for mental health in collaboration with DietDoctor.com that is free for everyone. It is intended for patients and clinicians alike, and includes a review of the research, scientific explanations and case examples, information about safety concerns, and practical guidance about medications, ketone measurements, and more. It was released in four installments:

The Food-Mood Connection
How Sugar May Damage the Brain
Getting Started and Managing Medications
FAQ about Low-carb Diets and Mental Health

A low-carbohydrate diet is not the only nutritional strategy worth considering; improving overall dietary quality with a whole-foods pre-agricultural diet (aka "paleo"-style diet) or a whole-foods post-agricultural diet (aka "Mediterranean" diet) may be helpful for some, especially for those without a significant degree of insulin resistance. However, neither of these approaches typically lower insulin and blood glucose levels as reliably as low-carbohydrate diets do.

Bottom Line

Most of us have been feeding our brains improperly our entire lives and have no idea how much better we could feel if we ate differently. A whole foods low-carbohydrate diet is a safe and healthy option for most people that can help improve brain metabolism, mental health symptoms, and overall health.



https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/...b-mental-health
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  #2   ^
Old Mon, Jul-01-19, 04:58
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WereBear WereBear is online now
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I love Dr. Ede. She is one of the pillars of me going ketogenic.
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  #3   ^
Old Mon, Jul-01-19, 06:09
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cotonpal cotonpal is online now
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I am absolutely convinced that low carb eating is what allowed me to no longer suffer from depression. I weaned myself off of all medication over a decade ago and have had no need or desire to take any ever again. The weaning process was very slow but I needed no medical supervision to do it but that's me, if I feel I can do things without doctor supervision that's what I do. It is too bad that Dr Ede's message does not reach more people. I hope that is beginning to change.
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Old Mon, Jul-01-19, 10:11
CityGirl8 CityGirl8 is offline
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I have ADHD and I now tell people that I think a lower carb diet is the first line of defense. I'm also personally a big fan of medication, but for mild cases diet alone might be the main management tool someone needs. I think for some situations with ADHD that you don't need to go very low carb. Maybe to start. Then people might happily settle in at around 75–100g/day in combination with a Paleo/primal style diet. You want to avoid wheat and junk food.

I've also heard some excellent reports of people controlling bipolar disorder with very low carb diets.
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  #5   ^
Old Mon, Jul-01-19, 14:42
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Ms Arielle Ms Arielle is online now
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The seratonin modulating is a new to me affect. Up to now Dr Amen stressed caution reguardinv keto for those with low seratonin.

Has left me in a quandry for years.My son is particularly prone to fluctuating blood sugar such that low sugar makes him sensitive to insults and he becomes testy. After he eat, those symptoms completly disappear.

Maybe I should ditch Dr Amens recommendations and give Dr Eades view a test.
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  #6   ^
Old Tue, Jul-02-19, 06:25
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WereBear WereBear is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ms Arielle
The seratonin modulating is a new to me affect. Up to now Dr Amen stressed caution reguardinv keto for those with low seratonin.

Has left me in a quandry for years.My son is particularly prone to fluctuating blood sugar such that low sugar makes him sensitive to insults and he becomes testy. After he eat, those symptoms completly disappear.

Maybe I should ditch Dr Amens recommendations and give Dr Eades view a test.


I can tell you that, brain-wise, it was like turning my utterly serviceable four door sedan into a nitro-fueled funny car. This was already after therapeutic niacin had calmed my anxiety after medication failed, so I actually had a good baseline to work from, going ketogenic.

This seems like a good time to share my most important Helpful Keto Fact: Remember the shift from Standard American Diet to going on Atkins or some other low carb plan?

I think for most people moving from low carb to keto is a similarly large shift. I think most people only stayed on Atkins Induction during the week or two he advised the shift to take place. Then people would immediately begin climbing the Carb Ladder. Which might not have been a bad move in the 1970s, but people are sicker now, and more of them are that sick.

Someone who stuck with Induction, and there were some, discovered keto early, I guess.

But just as the SAD/Atkins shift made me build a whole new view of food; just as much keto did that, too.
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  #7   ^
Old Tue, Jul-02-19, 06:33
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WereBear WereBear is online now
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And to connect the above with Dr. Ede, she is the most knowledgeable and persuasive and academic of the voices explaining why, if I don't get along with many plants, I can guiltlessly eliminate them from my diet.

I read three excellent books about autoimmune and keto, including the Dr. Terry Wahls protocol. Then I took the parts which seemed to apply to me the most and plunged in. The reason Dr. Ede was so helpful was that almost every "keto for healing" diet emphasized vegetables. Dr. Wahls' must have had three chapters just about her choices in that category.

Except the more I experimented with vegetable elimination, the easier the diet became. Dr. Ede's work convinced me that any nutrition from vegetables is much more iffy than lab results suggest. So I could ditch them, as she has for years, and wouldn't keel over
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Old Tue, Jul-02-19, 07:27
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GRB5111 GRB5111 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WereBear
Except the more I experimented with vegetable elimination, the easier the diet became. Dr. Ede's work convinced me that any nutrition from vegetables is much more iffy than lab results suggest. So I could ditch them, as she has for years, and wouldn't keel over

This is my experience as well. I still eat vegetables, but it is a much smaller group that I eat. I may eat more in the summer during the fresh season for local veggies, but I have some meals with little or no vegetables, and it is much easier to manage. On days when I may have some salad and protein for my first meal, my last meal doesn't have to include a vegetable. Very easy to manage, and I've responded in a positive way.
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  #9   ^
Old Tue, Jul-02-19, 08:33
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deirdra deirdra is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GRB5111
This is my experience as well. I still eat vegetables, but it is a much smaller group that I eat. I may eat more in the summer during the fresh season for local veggies, but I have some meals with little or no vegetables, and it is much easier to manage. On days when I may have some salad and protein for my first meal, my last meal doesn't have to include a vegetable. Very easy to manage, and I've responded in a positive way.
Same here. I do best on 0-2 servings of vegs per day (<5g net carbs), usually in only one of my two meals/day. No nightshades, just a few colourful things to get in some interest, trace elements and vitamins.
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  #10   ^
Old Tue, Jul-02-19, 10:50
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Meme#1 Meme#1 is online now
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Same here, my veggie consumption is way down and I feel a whole lot better that way. If we cook some veggies, I now have a bite or two instead a cup.
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  #11   ^
Old Tue, Jul-02-19, 10:57
CityGirl8 CityGirl8 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ms Arielle
My son is particularly prone to fluctuating blood sugar such that low sugar makes him sensitive to insults and he becomes testy. After he eat, those symptoms completly disappear.
Which is why a low carb diet is perfect. It gets rid of the fluctuating blood sugar! He'll probably be a nightmare to live with for a week or two, but if you can all get past that point you'll see a significant improvement. If I recall correctly, your son also has ASD? There are plenty of people who have seen significant improvement in their ASD kids on low carb, as well. But getting through the change in diet routine can be brutal.

Have you seen The Magic Pill? One of the families they follow has a 5 year old kid with severe autism and seizures. At the start she's non-verbal, can't use a fork, and basically living on Goldfish crackers and mac and cheese. They switch the whole household's diet and the kid essentially refuses to eat for a few days. She has tantrums for days about the foods she wants. In the video from this stage, you can tell the dad is at the end of his rope and they probably wouldn't have kept going if they hadn't committed to doing it for 30 days as part of the film. Then the girl gets hungry enough to eat what's put in front of her and she starts eating everything! Within a few weeks she's using a fork to eat off of a plate and when she's offered food she doesn't want she says "no" instead of screaming or throwing it. They also interview another ASD kid who was in a formal study on keto diets.
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  #12   ^
Old Wed, Jul-03-19, 03:28
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WereBear WereBear is online now
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I think it's basically a case of making everybody's brain work better, considering the broad range of conditions it helps. And, as I now know, when the brain's not working, ain't nothing working.

The brain does considerable fine-tuning of our hormones and processes, so starving it has downstream effects on remote organs.
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