What Ketosis Does To The Brain

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A Neurologist On Ketone Drinks & What The Ketogenic Diet Can (really) Do For Your Brain

Ilene Ruhoy, M.D., Ph.D. Deciding what to eat for optimal health can be confusing. There are so many different dietary approaches, and each is touted as the most beneficial to our health and waistlines, yet the actual nutrition advice often differs greatly or conflicts. It can be difficult to keep up with all the trends and fads, and sometimes it's hard to know who to trust. I'm often asked for nutritional guidance in my clinic, and recently I've been hearing a lot of questions about the ketogenic diet from my patients. Here's exactly what I tell them. Despite its current surge in popularity, the ketogenic diet has been around for a long time and is commonly used for refractory seizure disorders (epilepsy). In fact, evidence of its efficacy for epilepsy dates back as far as 1921. There are many different types of the ketogenic diet,including the classic version, the medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) diet, the modified Atkins diet, and the low-glycemic diet. Because fasting is a rapid method of achieving ketosis, intermittent fasting diets can also be ketogenic depending on how it's accomplished. But what is ketosis? Here are five simple scientific facts that I often give to my patien Continue reading >>

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  1. ufojoe

    Lots of assertions that need to be backed up.
    What does it even mean to say "the brain prefers ketones"?
    All the studies on healthy people that I'm aware of have shown ketosis doesn't improve brain function, and might impair some aspects. [1][2]
    Then saying the brain is 60% fat therefore it needs lots of fat is just bad unsupported logic. The thing you would want to know is how much much and what type of fat should be available for optimal maintenance of brain tissue. The answer usually isn't straight forward, given the body has feedback mechanisms that can turn up maintenance processes based on a lack of nutrient availability.

  2. snocorgurgl

    I agree about these kind of claims. They're ridiculously over-simplified.
    However, the cognitive effects of keto have been pretty real for me. I think the overwhelming enthusiasm for keto in terms of cognitive enhancement and mood is because of selection bias of 'unhealthy' people who cannot tolerate high carbohydrate diets. Definitely more trials on healthy samples are needed.

  3. [deleted]

    Yeah I have a feeling that there is a segment of the population that otherwise deals poorly with blood sugar spikes and troughs, keto probably positively impacts that, that's my theory as for why it works for me. Anecdotally I will never return to a carby diet; in terms of science simply saying "existing science says bad" isn't a strong backup either. There is a dearth of science re: keto because it's in its infancy for anything besides epilepsy and there aren't a lot of pharmaceutical or agricultural interests paying for keto studies like there are for drugs and carb diets.

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