Healthy food results in healthy bodies. With the rise of fast food, processed meats, and genetically-modified vegetables, is it any wonder why researchers keep reporting numerous diseases year after year? Mental health issues, like other physical health issues, are aggravated by bad diets. Doctors reveal that a ketogenic diet may significantly improve the conditions of people who suffer from mental disorders.
In 2015, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) urged people to lower the use of antipsychotic medication for elderly patients suffering from symptoms of dementia, because of the drug’s dangerous side effects. These antipsychotic drugs cause dull behaviors, sedation, and an increased risk of falling down. Bradley Williams, a geriatric pharmacist from the University of Southern California, states that the symptoms and effects of depression and anxiety can be controlled and decreased through proper dietary and other lifestyle changes.
Massachussetts psychiatrist and pharmacologist Dr Georgia Ede reports two interesting cases where low-carb diets helped improve conditions in patients who have been prescribed antipsychotic medications. Dr Chris Palmer, a psychiatrist from Harvard’s McLean Hospital in Belmont, states that the strongest antipsychotic and mood stabilizing medications don’t bring enough relief and have too many severe side effects. He then described experiences of two adults suffering from schizoaffective disorder, before and after practicing a ketogenic diet.
A schizoaffective disorder involves people who have to cope with psychosis, which includes paranoia, auditory and visual hallucinations, and disorganized thinking. This disorder also includes overlapping periods of severe mood symptoms like depression, euphoria, irritability, rage, and suicidal thoughts.
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The first case was of a 31-year old woman with a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder for eight years. She had tried 12 different medications, and underwent 23 rounds of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). After all these, she remained troubled by the symptoms. She decided to try the ketogenic diet in order to lose weight. After four weeks on the diet, the rate of delusions lessened, and she lost 10 pounds. After four months, she lost 30 pounds and her symptoms were cut in half.
The second case involved a 33-year old man with a 14-year diagnosis of the same disorder. After 17 different types of medications, there had been no significant improvement. He also tried the ketogenic diet for weight loss, and a dramatic reduction in auditory hallucinations and delusions were noted after three weeks. After a year, he lost 104 pounds, and results of tests showed a 75 percent decrease in symptoms. His daily function and quality of life improved, and he started living like a normal person.
In both cases reported, the negative side effects returned after abandoning the ketogenic diet, showing that this healthy lifestyle was powerful enough to treat and stabilize mental disorders.
A ketogenic diet or a low-carb diet, is a nutritional plan that prompts the body to produce ketone bodies in the liver to be used as energy. These ketone bodies, or ketones, are water-soluble molecules that are alternate sources of energy when carbohydrates are unavailable. This type of diet is safe, even for type-2 diabetics and individuals suffering from cardiovascular disease.
Here’s an example of what a ketogenic diet looks like:
Breakfast — No-flour cream cheese pancakes with butter and sugar free syrup; coffee with heavy cream; bacon or sugar-free breakfast sausage.
Snack — Two to three pieces of string cheese.
Lunch — Ham and cheese rolled in cream cheese pancakes, with mayonnaise and arugula or spinach.
Snack — Half an avocado with salt and pepper.
Dinner — Classic buffalo wings with sugar-free blue cheese dressing and celery sticks.
Dessert — one serving of chocolate mousse or chocolate truffles.
Even if a person does not suffer from any type of mental illness, a ketogenic diet can help them achieve wellness by eliminating unhealthy sugars from the body. To simplify what a keto diet is, it is simply removing carbohydrate intake (or limiting it to 20 grams per day) from the daily nutrition plan, which will then cause the liver to produce the ketones that serve as the body’s energy source.