This Reddit User Swears The Ketogenic Diet Made Him Less Depressed—but Is That Possible?
People swear by the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet for plenty of reasons—they say it can help lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease, and help you lose weight. But now one Reddit user says the ketogenic diet helped fight his depression, too. Under the title “Depression is gone,” Redditor willilikeit writes, “Six months on keto. Have lost 40 pounds. But the best result is how I feel. I've gone from waking up with dread and fighting suicidal thoughts off and on most days, to feeling energetic, positive, and only a rare, passing, suicidal thought. It is night and day! Omg. Thank you for all of your posts and support!" Several other people said in the comments that they experienced similar results with ketogenic diets. “So true, I sleep less, wake up ready for the day instead of dreading it. I have energy and want to actually do things now. So glad you feel it too!” Sea_Hag wrote. “I’m right there with you,” writes EffectedCat. “I don’t constantly think of how much I suck or constantly ask what I’m going to screw up today. …Anger and sudden emotional outbursts have dramatically decreased and everyone around me can notice the difference in my mood. This diet has changed my life.” Does the Keto Diet Really Fight Depression? It actually might, says women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, M.D. “Your diet can absolutely have an effect on your mood,” she says. “Many studies have shown a clear link between diet and a person's state of mind.” The keto diet in particular may cause certain bodily processes that can help fight depression, she says. I Tried It: Keto Diet Here’s how it works: For some reason, when you're on a ketogenic diet, your body produces more GABA, a major neurotransmitter that helps the brain function Continue reading >>
Is Tingling, Depression And Rage Caused By Low-carb?
One of my blog friends named Debi Gerbino brought up an interesting subject regarding the low-carb lifestyle the other day in an e-mail that I haven’t personally experienced nor have I heard anything about it previously. She said when she has tried the Atkins diet, her tongue started having a tingling sensation. Has anyone else either experienced or heard about this before? It was news to me. She went to see her doctor about it who referred her to a neurologist to have an MRI taken. But the doctors couldn’t find anything that would cause this odd physical reaction to occur. “When I got off Atkins 6 months ago, the tingling sensation went away (but I never thought anything of it) – until now. As you know, I started Atkins again one week ago today. About two days ago, the tingling sensation returned … it’s awful. I make a connection (I think) and wondered if it could have anything to do with my ‘diet’ and the huge metabolic change that occurs.” I’ll throw the door wide open on this one. Does anyone have any insight they would like to share with Debi about her condition? Is this something you too have experienced and were able to overcome with your low-carb lifestyle? Click on the comments section below and please share your thoughts with us. Debi also mentioned that she suffers with depression and referenced this article from April 2004 printed in Psychology Today. Debi said she had a co-worker who told her that people who are depressed should avoid livin’ la vida low-carb because it allegedly lowers serotonin levels in the brain which can lead to depression. I admit that I do not suffer from depression and never have. However, my wife Christine does and I have seen the way she is when she doesn’t take her Paxil and Wellbutrin. In other words, I am Continue reading >>
Low-carb Diet = Depression??? Not So Fast!
I’ve noticed a few blogs on the internet recently and posts within our Community from people asking about the effects of Atkins on their sleep or whether doing Atkins would increase their risk of depression. I’ve addressed this topic before, but I thought it would be a great time to revisit it. One study that was well publicized in the past followed a group of adults who were separated into two weight-loss groups: a very low-carb plan and a restricted-calorie, moderately high-carb plan. Both groups lost about the same amount of weight over a year—30 pounds. But, according to the researchers, the low-carb group reported higher levels of anger, depression and confusion vs. the higher-carb group. The researchers suggested a link to better serotonin (a neurotransmitter involved in mood) synthesis with the higher-carb group while the low-carb group had lower levels of serotonin. Concluding that higher carbohydrate intake can increase serotonin concentrations in the brain, while fat and protein reduce concentrations. But it’s just not that simple. Even the researchers suggest that more studies need to be done to support this theory. Let’s start with this indisputable fact: The body needs tryptophan to make serotonin. No one denies this—tryptophan is an essential amino acid, and we need it for all sorts of things, including making serotonin. Tryptophan is a good guy. But no one knows just how much is needed; nor does anyone know exactly how much serotonin we need to make in order to “not be depressed”. What we do know: Depression is a function of an Internet-like maze of interrelationships between serotonin, dopamine, beta-endorphins and other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and epinephrine. The making of any of these chemical messengers can be influenced Continue reading >>
Is The Ketosis Diet The Most Powerful Aid For Depression?
The western world is in the grip of a terrible malaise. Depression has been earmarked by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the fastest growing health problem right now and expects it to be that way for many years to come. But why? What gives? Do they know something we don’t? Or is it, in fact, that people just don’t really understand Depression and are blithely wandering into its clutches because they just can’t see it coming? Well, I obviously don’t have all the answers, but I’m going to tell you what I’ve learned over the years with my research into food and health matters. The first piece of information worth considering is the old quote “You are what you eat”. Or the version attributed to the “Father” of Western medicine “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food”. Now, I remember my A-Level chemistry, and I was pretty good at it, and I remember that the bottom line is that you can’t make certain compounds if the ingredients for those compounds are not present in the reaction vessel. Your body is the reaction vessel in this instance, and therefore it stands to reason that if you don’t get enough, say, Iron in your diet, you will find your body exhibiting symptoms which are caused by a lack of Iron. Pretty simple stuff, right? Right. Except that during the whole time that Depression has been becoming the world’s number one disease, the ‘official line’ on dietary recommendations has stressed the importance of not eating too much fat. Low-fat carbs have been the order of the day, and we have probably all seen one version or another of that Special K woman on our screens literally thousands of times. She seems to be doing alright on it… what’s the problem? Well, my money is on the fats. It takes a bit of hea Continue reading >>
Atkins Diet 'causes Mood Swings And Depression'
Quick Links: Join our private community forum Join our facebook community Follow us on twitter Listen to Judy on NPR-affiliate WHDD-FM (click "Food for Mood") Subscribe to our Blog Read our Author Blog Sign up to receive our FREE one day meal Plan and Recipe of the Month (and receive a free one-day PDF sample of the diet when you sign up) Sign up for telephone consultation sessions Schedule a weight loss workshop for your community or organization The Serotonin Power Diet Health Correspondent, PA News Low carbohydrate regimes like the Atkins diet could lead to mood swings and depression and leave slimmers feeling like "an emotional zombie", researchers have claimed. The controversial high-protein, low-carb Atkins diet has prompted criticism from many doctors who fear it could increase the risk of long-term health problems such as kidney damage, high cholesterol and diabetes. More research in America has now suggested it could also affect mental health, leaving dieters feeling grumpy, tired, apathetic and restless. Dr Judith Wurtman and her colleagues, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) clinical research centre, found that when you stop eating carbohydrates, your brain stops regulating serotonin. This chemical elevates mood and suppresses appetite, and eating carbohydrates naturally stimulates its production. Antidepressant drugs make serotonin more active in the brain and help regulate mood. But carbohydrates raise serotonin levels naturally, acting as a natural tranquilliser. The MIT research looked at serotonin levels in the brains of 100 volunteers who ate different diets, either with a lot of meat and other high-protein foods, or with more carbohydrates, found in breads and cereals. They found that the brain only made serotonin after a person ate Continue reading >>
Ketosis & Depression
According to the British National Health Service, or NHS, ketosis results when too many ketones build up in your blood. Ketones are chemicals that your body produces as a byproduct of burning fat for fuel. Ketosis is a goal of some very-low-carb diets. Some people may experience increased symptoms of depression during ketosis because their bodies may have a hard time producing the mood-elevating chemical called serotonin. Video of the Day Carbs are your body's fuel of choice. When your body has very little carbohydrate available -- as it would after a week or so on a very-low-carb diet -- it is forced to start breaking down and using fat for energy. This process is called fat metabolism. The byproducts of fat metabolism include ketones, which are acidic chemicals that exit your body through urine and breath. Depressed people typically have a persistent feeling of sadness, worthlessness and emptiness. There are many possible reasons for depression; in some cases, depression results from a lack of the brain chemical serotonin, a compound that makes people feel naturally happy. According to MayoClinic.com, having too little serotonin can disrupt communication between your brain cells, making depression worse. Your body has to make serotonin; you can't get it from the food you eat. MedlinePlus explains that your body uses tryptophan, a type of protein, to make serotonin. You can find tryptophan in protein-rich foods like turkey, eggs and fish -- all foods that are allowed on a low-carb diet. So it would seem that people on low-carb diets should have all the tryptophan they need to make serotonin in excess, but that's not the end of the story. There is a tiny amount of tryptophan available compared to all the other kinds of protein in eggs. Since only so much protein can cro Continue reading >>
5 Compelling Reasons To Stick With A Ketogenic Diet
Chances are if you’re like me, you can come up with a million reasons not to do something healthy. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could come up with a million reasons to change your life for the better? Well, it won't be a million. It’ll be five, and it’ll be about the ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet is helping people all over the world lose weight, get healthy and feel better. However, like with any lifestyle change, you’re going to experience some resistance. If you’re only armed with one reason to do something, you could get overwhelmed by the horde of self-sabotage that lurks in the corners of our brains. That’s why, for me, it’s important to come up with a smorgasbord of good reasons to keep doing something healthy. If the only positive I was getting from the ketogenic diet was simply weight loss, I think I could talk myself out of it just to indulge in the fleeting pleasures of an afternoon muffin. But armed with multiple, interesting and cool benefits of the ketogenic diet, I can keep those harlot muffins where they belong: in apocalypse-proof plastic wrapping, next to the rack of children’s sunglasses near my drugstore checkout line. Smile, Baby! The ketogenic diet is low-carb and very, very low in sugar. Sugar and refined carbs are the main culprits behind tooth decay, causing certain bacteria in your mouth to overfeed and release excess acid, which causes cavities. The absence of sugar and carbs keeps these bacteria from going bananas, and as a result, you have a much slimmer chance of developing cavities and gum disease. You might think that not getting cavities is not really that great of a reason, but have you paid for a cavity as an adult? It costs more than taking an entire family to Disneyland. I’d personally prefer to go on Space Moun Continue reading >>
Can What You Eat Affect Your Mental Health? New Research Links Diet And The Mind.
Jodi Corbitt had been battling depression for decades and by 2010 had resigned herself to taking antidepressant medication for the rest of her life. Then she decided to start a dietary experiment. To lose weight, the 47-year-old Catonsville, Md., mother stopped eating gluten, a protein found in wheat and related grains. Within a month she had shed several pounds — and her lifelong depression. “It was like a veil lifted and I could see life more clearly,” she recalled. “It changed everything.” Corbitt had stumbled into an area that scientists have recently begun to investigate: whether food can have as powerful an impact on the mind as it does on the body. Research exploring the link between diet and mental health “is a very new field; the first papers only came out a few years ago,” said Michael Berk, a professor of psychiatry at the Deakin University School of Medicine in Australia. “But the results are unusually consistent, and they show a link between diet quality and mental health.” “Diet quality” refers to the kinds of foods that people eat, how often they eat them and how much of them they eat. In several studies, including a 2011 analysis of more than 5,000 Norwegians, Berk and his collaborators have found lower rates of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder among those who consumed a traditional diet of meat and vegetables than among people who followed a modern Western diet heavy with processed and fast foods or even a health-food diet of tofu and salads. “Traditional diets — the kinds of foods your grandmother would have recognized — have been associated with a lower risk of mental health issues,” Berk said. Interestingly, that traditional diet may vary widely across cultures, including wheat for some people but not for others; Continue reading >>
How The Ketogenic Lifestyle Reversed My Depression
I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I had to. I had to go to work, which, for me, on this particular day, meant walking 10 feet to my desk and opening up my laptop. The alarm on my phone had just gone off, so I knew it was 5 AM. By sheer force of will, I got out of bed and started my day. The previous day was the same as the one before it and the one before it and so on. But the tedium wasn’t the worst of it, the worst of it was that I had spent all of the previous day (and countless ones before it) angry, sad, and frustrated. And I knew that this day was going to be the same. I didn’t enjoy life. I didn’t enjoy anything. I didn’t know it at that moment, but in a little while, I would realize that I was depressed. And I had been depressed for a while. My job wasn’t particularly stressful, but it was unchallenging enough to make me dread it. I was also coming off a failed business start, one that I had spent way too many hours on over the past 10 months, so I was feeling like a particularly huge failure. I don’t know what was different about that day, but a couple of hours after I started work, I came to an emotional crossroads. Sitting there, I decided I had two choices, I could either give up or I could change something. I couldn’t give up, because I had a family to support. So I really only had one choice, and that was to change something. Sitting there, at my desk, with my head resting in my hands, I decided…and this may sound odd to someone who can’t relate, but I decided to change the most immediate and fundamental thing I could. I was going to change what I eat, and I was going to get back to being ketogenic. I had tried the ketogenic lifestyle before, but without any real determination or discipline. I decided that day that I was going to go Continue reading >>
Does Anyone Else Get Depressed/anxious On Low Carb?
When I was first starting out with Paleo, I tried to it low-carb. Everything seemed to be well, but after about a month and a half, I started getting*very anxious and stressed out*. What ends up happening is your body must break down protein for glucose needs, and it releases a lot of cortisol to make this happen, leaving you feeling anxious, and stressed, which inevitably leads to depression. Do some carb refeeds. Around 250 grams twice or three times a week. Make your first one today. You'll still be "fat-adapted" with infrequent carb refeeds, but you won't suffer from low glycogen stores. I go through phases, during a low-carb streak... At first: I'm tired, a little depressed, a little cloudy, just sort of feeling overall like I'm missing something. I do get a little anxious after the tiredness passes, I feel that I have more energy than I know what to do with; I usually don't sleep more than five hours a night during this phase. This lasts the first couple days. After that: I break through a wall (low-carb flu) and start feeling really, REALLY good. I'm elated, I'm giddy, I'm clearer than I've been in a long time, I feel like I've figured it all out. A fatty meal makes me feel like I'm flying on several illegal substances. Still sleeping five - six hours a night, but could care less because I have energy. I mean I have ENERGY! This lasts another three or four days. At this point I'm seven - ten days in, and I start noticing that I'm snapping at people here and there. Irritability sets in; I'm not seeking trouble per se, but if anyone shows any sign of weakness or stupidity at all around me, I have ZERO patience and I pounce like a starving lion aiming to rip the throat out. If I continue in this phase, I feel like I might lose my job; it requires both patience and t Continue reading >>
7 Things Everyone Should Know About Low-carb Diets
Last week, my staff nutritionist Laura Schoenfeld wrote a guest post for my blog called “Is a Low-Carb Diet Ruining Your Health”. Perhaps not surprisingly, it has caused quite a stir. For reasons I don’t fully understand, some people identify so strongly with how many carbohydrates they eat that they take offense when a suggestion is made that low-carb diets may not be appropriate for everyone, in all circumstances. In these circles low-carb diets have become dogma (i.e. a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true). Followers of this strange religious sect insist that everyone should be on low-carb or even ketogenic diets; that all carbohydrates, regardless of their source, are “toxic”; that most traditional hunter-gatherer (e.g. Paleolithic) societies followed a low-carb diet; and, similarly, that nutritional ketosis—which is only achievable with a very high-fat, low-carb, and low-protein diet—is our default and optimal physiological state. Cut through the confusion and hype and learn what research can tell us about low-carb diets. On the other hand, I’ve also observed somewhat of a backlash against low-carb diets occurring in the blogosphere of late. While I agree with many of the potential issues that have been raised about low-carb diets, and think it’s important to discuss them, I also feel it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that low-carb diets can be very effective therapeutic tools for certain conditions and in certain situations. With this in mind, here are 7 things I think everyone should know about low-carb diets. #1: Paleo does not equal low-carb, and very low-carb/ketogenic diets are not our “default” nutritional state, as some have claimed. Some low-carb advocates have claimed that mo Continue reading >>
Does A Ketogenic Diet Cause Anxiety?
Ordinarily no. However there’s some caveats which means “maybe” in some cases: Some of the side-effects can be really unpleasant and may cause some level of discomfort and (perhaps therefore) secondary anxiousness. Furthermore (agreeing with Doug here) if you push too hard for too long this might also cause a further stress response increasing cortisol etc which will feel fairly close to being anxious I suppose. One of my friends who originally joined me on my journey had a very rough time at one stage (including feeling anxiety), such that he basically eventually gave up the diet. Subsequently having learnt more and looking back with hindsight, we both agree and came to the conclusion that he was perhaps pushing too hard too fast for too long and that what he experienced was caused by this and likely a case of stress response, further exacerbated perhaps by real anxiety due to lingering doubts in the back of his head about the diet (he suspects). Bottom line, a ketogenic diet properly followed does not cause anxiety directly, but there may be some symptoms that either feel like you’re anxious, or cause you to feel perhaps secondary anxiety due to their presence in the beginning (first several weeks perhaps). Or you’re experiencing stress that’s close enough to feel like anxiety. (Perhaps the difference is moot.) Anyway, mostly these are due to loss of minerals and can be resolved by taking mineral supplements to compensate (bouillon mix highly recommended in the beginning, as well as possibly potassium and magnesium supplements, off the top of my head) and perhaps backing of slightly. I’m not really in favour of cyclical keto (cheating periodically), however if you run into trouble sustaining a really low carb level for too long, then there’s no shame i Continue reading >>
The Current Status Of The Ketogenic Diet In Psychiatry
Go to: Abstract Background The ketogenic diet (KD) has been used in treatment-resistant epilepsy since the 1920s. It has been researched in a variety of neurological conditions in both animal models and human trials. The aim of this review is to clarify the potential role of KD in psychiatry. Results The search yielded 15 studies that related the use of KD in mental disorders including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These studies comprised nine animal models, four case studies, and two open-label studies in humans. In anxiety, exogenous ketone supplementation reduced anxiety-related behaviors in a rat model. In depression, KD significantly reduced depression-like behaviors in rat and mice models in two controlled studies. In bipolar disorder, one case study reported a reduction in symptomatology, while a second case study reported no improvement. In schizophrenia, an open-label study in female patients (n = 10) reported reduced symptoms after 2 weeks of KD, a single case study reported no improvement. In a brief report, 3 weeks of KD in a mouse model normalized pathological behaviors. In ASD, an open-label study in children (n = 30) reported no significant improvement; one case study reported a pronounced and sustained response to KD. In ASD, in four controlled animal studies, KD significantly reduced ASD-related behaviors in mice and rats. In ADHD, in one controlled trial of KD in dogs with comorbid epilepsy, both conditions significantly improved. Conclusion Despite its long history in neurology, the role of KD in mental disorders is unclear. Half of the published studies are based on animal models of mental disorders with limited generalizability to the analog Continue reading >>
Serotonin And The Connection
According to doctors Olfson and Marcus of Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons (Department of Psychiatry), "Antidepressants have recently become the most commonly prescribed class of medication in the United States" (August 2009 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry). By far, the most popular of this class of drugs are the SSRI's (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). To see how these drugs work, go HERE. Not too long ago, I wrote a post about the relationship between OBESITY, DEPRESSION, AND LOSS OF LIBIDO. As typical, I suggested a LOW CARB OR PALEO DIET as part of the solution to this problem. Not surprisingly, I had a few people email me links to the research by Dr. Richard Wurtman of MIT who has produced forty years worth of studies on sleep, mood, nutrition, and their relationship to neurotransmitters. He has studies showing that Serotonin (the 'feel-good' neurotransmitter whose lack is thought to be a huge factor in developing Depression), is released due to the ingestion of dietary carbohydrates. His wife is Dr. Judith Wurtman (also of MIT) who has published a book on the topic called The Serotonin Power Diet. As you might imagine, she advocates a higher carb / low fat, lower protein approach to eating in order to boost mood. There are many similar books on the market. We have Potatoes Not Prozac and Natural Prozac by Dr. Joel C. Robertson (he advocates a higher carb approach). But there are also books advocating a low carb approach such as Dr. Michael J. Norden's (Psychiatrist) Beyond Prozac. What is the truth? Our goal today is to sift the evidence and see what we find. One of the big reasons that I am such an advocate of Paleo-type eating is that it is a highly non-reactive diet (HERE). This is critical for those dealing with things Continue reading >>
Keep Yourself In Ketosis
When talking about a Grain Brain lifestyle, and the very similar ketogenic diet, it’s frequently mentioned that we are aiming to keep our bodies in ketosis. However, if you’re new to my work, it may be that you’re not exactly sure what ketosis is, or why we should be worrying about getting our body into this state. Allow me to explain. Ketones are a special type of fat that can stimulate the pathways that enhance the growth of new neural networks in the brain. A ketogenic diet is one that is high in fats, and this diet has been a tool of researchers for years, used notably in a 2005 study on Parkinson’s patients finding an improvement in symptoms after just 28 days. The improvements were on par with those made possible via medication and brain surgery. Other research has shown the ketogenic diet to be remarkably effective in treating some forms of epilepsy, and even brain tumors. Ketones do more than just that though. They increase glutathione, a powerful, brain-protective antioxidant. Ketones facilitate the production of mitochondria, one of the most important actors in the coordinated production that is the human body. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Our bodies are said to enter ketosis at the point when blood sugar levels are low and liver glycogen are no longer available to produce glucose as a fuel for cellular energy production. At this point, not only is the body doing the natural thing, and burning off fat, it’s also powering up the brain with a super efficient fuel. We can jump start ourselves into ketosis with a brief fast, allowing our body to quickly burn through the carbs that are in our system, and turn to fat for fuel. A ketogenic diet is one that derives around 80% or more of of its calories from fat, and the rest from carbs and prote Continue reading >>