During my decades working at the Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine we treated many people suffering depression, anxiety and panic attacks with the Atkins low carb protocol, which is the foundation of the HEALcare program. And now we have research that supports our clinical experience that low-carb and ketogenic diets have value in managing brain disorders.
A paper published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in November 2018 reports that “Higher BMI [body mass index], with and without its adverse metabolic consequences, is likely to have a causal role in determining the likelihood of an individual developing depression.” That is, being overweight can cause depression even when the individual does not present metabolic conditions like type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.
“These genes were just as strongly associated with depression as those genes associated with higher BMI [body mass index] and diabetes. This suggests that being over weight causes depression both with and without related health issues-particularly in women”, summarizes a member of the research team.
The benefits to the brain from using ketones for fuel by following a ketogenic diet include decreased inflammation, less free radical production, a steady fuel source, and keeping insulin and blood glucose within normal ranges. It is also important to keep in mind that people with diabetes and obesity have a higher incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, and seizure disorders have been treated with a ketogenic modified diet for many years.
While the research on the effect of ketogenic diets on disorders like Parkinson’s disease, brain tumors, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) and Alzheimer’s disease continues, we already know that low-carb diets are safe and effective for other medical conditions. So the key question is, why wait? A smart way to keep the brain functioning optimally is by consuming minimally processed food that is low in carbohydrates.