JUN 15, 2018 6:21 AM PDT

Can Going Keto Keep Your Brain in Shape Too?

Eating a healthy diet has many benefits. Weight management, cardiovascular health, stress reduction and a reduced risk of certain illnesses are all reasons to monitor food intake carefully and pick a way of eating that supports the body. But what about the brain? Are there diets that can protect and improve brain health? Many studies have shown that what you eat can have an effect on neurological conditions, so should the brain be part of whole body fitness when looking at food choices?

A popular diet now is the ketogenic diet or, "Keto" and the focus in this way of eating is to go extremely low on carbohydrates, usually less than 50g per day. One medium potato is about 50 carbs, so the amounts allowed on a keto diet are meager. When carbs are consumed, they convert to glucose, and this is what the body burns for energy. If there is too much glucose in the body, that's all it will burn. Carbs have to be reduced, and in some diets eliminated, to get the body to burn fat, which is necessary for weight loss. With less glucose available the body will break down fat into "ketone bodies" which are then used for energy, with the added benefit of weight loss. 

So what does keto have to do with the brain? It was initially a diet prescribed to patients who have epilepsy, going back 100 years. It was found to reduce seizure activity sometimes even better than medication. A 2006 study, published in Behavioral Pharmacology looked at the effect of a ketogenic diet on conditions like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's as well as epilepsy. In that study, which was a meta-analysis of research on the diet and neurological diseases, there was some evidence that the diet reduced seizure activity. The mechanism was not evident in these studies, and they were done using lab mice, but there does seem to be a connection between ketogenic diets and brain health. The authors of some of the studies did point out however that it's difficult to follow ketogenic diets for some and that can result in unintentional calorie restriction, which might also be a factor. 

While there is quite a bit of research on epilepsy and ketosis, there hasn't been much on how it impacts patients who have Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. Recent research into the role of glucose and Alzheimer's has led some to call Alzheimer's "Type 3 diabetes" since patients who have higher glucose levels progress faster into cognitive decline than those who limit carbs and sugar. It's believed that neurons become resistant to insulin and thus cannot use glucose for fuel. A 2009 study also showed that patients who had a diagnosis of mild Alzheimer's and who were given an oral ketogenic compound AC-1202 had better cognitive scores at the end of a 90-day study than those who did not take the compound. 

While these studies are not recent, they were the beginnings of research into how what we eat impacts, not just general health, but specifically brain health. Take a look at the video below to learn more. Would you give up carbs if it meant reducing the risk of cognitive decline? 

Sources: Cooking Light, Bodybuilding.com  

About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
DEC 23, 2020
Health & Medicine
Holiday Cheer: Americans Swap Alcohol for Cannabis this Christmas
DEC 23, 2020
Holiday Cheer: Americans Swap Alcohol for Cannabis this Christmas
Cannabis users polled by Glasshouse Group — a California-based cannabis and hemp company, which runs several dispe ...
DEC 28, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
How an Herbal Compound May Fight Pancreatic Cancer
DEC 28, 2020
How an Herbal Compound May Fight Pancreatic Cancer
For centuries, Chinese practitioners have used herbs to treat all kinds of ailments. New research has shown that one of ...
JAN 04, 2021
Microbiology
Some Microbes Could Help Treat Type 2 Diabetes
JAN 04, 2021
Some Microbes Could Help Treat Type 2 Diabetes
The microbial community in our gastrointestinal tract has been shown to have a significant impact on our health and well ...
JAN 10, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
A New Way to Defend Against Mosquito-Borne Viruses
JAN 10, 2021
A New Way to Defend Against Mosquito-Borne Viruses
Mosquitoes are killers; they are thought to be responsible for the deaths of millions of people every year because of th ...
JAN 17, 2021
Cell & Molecular Biology
How a Nutrient Can Aid in Infection Prevention
JAN 17, 2021
How a Nutrient Can Aid in Infection Prevention
Antibiotic-resistant microbes are considered to be a serious threat to public health, one of many reasons why it's impor ...
JAN 17, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
New Insights Into Kabuki Syndrome
JAN 17, 2021
New Insights Into Kabuki Syndrome
Kabuki syndrome is a rare multisystemic disorder that causes delays in growth, distinctive facial features, short statur ...
Loading Comments...