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Can a Ketogenic Diet Balance Your Mood?

Anyone who has ever dealt with a “sugar crash” or the feeling of drowsiness after a large meal knows that food can affect your mood. But despite that, it somehow seems like too abstract of an idea that with the right diet, our outlook could change dramatically. However, for anyone suffering from a serious mood disorder or depression, there’s nothing abstract or outside the realm of treatment. And food is definitely part of that.

A review in the journal Neuroscience and Behavioral Reviews has found that for reasons outside of epilepsy treatment or weight loss, the ketogenic diet may also help treat mood disorders that are resistant to conventional approaches.

That’s because the low carb diet changes the way that our body and mind chemistry act and react. In addition to stopping the ups and downs of blood sugar levels, stopping carbohydrates can reduce the additional physiological stress of inflammation and improve the efficiency of neural signals. Overall, that means more clear-mindedness and resilience that helps put things in perspective.

Certainly, more clinical work needs to be done to get a full picture of the efficacy of the ketogenic diet for mood. However, this review is good news to those with stubborn bipolar disorders or depression who are looking for an additional ally in their treatment plan.


Brietzke E, Mansur RB, Subramaniapillai M, et al. Ketogenic diet as a metabolic therapy for mood disorders: Evidence and developments. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2018;94:11–16.

Despite significant advances in pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments, mood disorders remain a significant source of mental capital loss, with high rates of treatment resistance, requiring a coordinated effort in investigation and development of efficient, tolerable and accessible novel interventions. Ketogenic diet (KD) is a low-carb diet that substantially changes the energetic matrix of the body including the brain. It has been established as an effective anticonvulsant treatment, and more recently, the role of KD for mental disorders has been explored. Ketogenic diet has profound effects in multiple targets implicated in the pathophysiology of mood disorders, including but not limited to, glutamate/GABA transmission, monoamine levels, mitochondrial function and biogenesis, neurotrophism, oxidative stress, insulin dysfunction and inflammation. Preclinical studies, case reports and case series have demonstrated antidepressant and mood stabilizing effects of KD, however, to date, no clinical trials for depression or bipolar disorder have been conducted. Because of its potential pleiotropic benefits, KD should be considered as a promising intervention in research in mood disorder therapeutics, especially in treatment resistant presentations.

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Terry is happy to provide his opinion on diet and nutrition, supplements and lifestyle choices. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the advice of your physician and is not to be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Should you have any concerns please contact your physician directly.
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