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Why Going Keto is Good for Your Mental Health
When diets become buzzfeed, it is usually because either someone you know or a celebrity shares their before-and-after stories that have little to nothing to do at all with health, and everything to do with a physical body transformation. Now, there is nothing wrong with changing your eating habits to meet your aesthetic goals if that is something that you genuinely desire for yourself, however, shouldn’t the actual health benefits of a diet program count for something, also? Consider the myriad health benefits of the ketogenic diet, for instance. When you hear the word “keto,” I can almost guarantee the very first thing that comes to mind is shedding pounds or images of Kourtney Kardashian’s lean figure. While it is true the keto diet is primarily advertised for rapid weight loss, there is a great deal more to this way of eating than just the number on the scale.
Before we dive into all of the health benefits you can reap by changing over to a ketogenic diet, let us first identify what it actually means to go keto in the first place. Essentially, the ketogenic diet is a low carbohydrate, high fat and moderate protein diet in which, by eliminating carbohydrates from the bulk of your meals, your body is forced to find alternative sources of fuel. It does this by breaking down stored fats and converting them into energy.
Personally, I am a carbohydrate addict. So, I know for a fact that the ketogenic lifestyle is perfect for me. It is relatively simple to follow if you are able to get past giving up bread, pasta, pastries, and the like. The ketogenic diet is comprised of healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut avocado, nuts, and seeds, non-starchy veggies such as zucchini and leafy greens, and high-protein foods such as nuts, seeds, bacon, and steak.
All of these foods are ideal for your body as well as your mind. There are a plethora of health benefits to be found in the keto diet that has absolutely nothing to do with losing weight, and everything to do with protecting your mental health. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the positive changes you will likely notice in as you decide to go keto.
#1 Better Mental Focus
The problem with carbohydrates as an energy source is that they cause your insulin (blood sugar) levels to rise and fall. Because the energy source isn’t consistent it’s harder for your brain to stay focused for long periods of time.
When you’re in ketosis and your brain uses ketones as a fuel source, it has a consistent fuel source that it can rely on, which means you can focus for longer periods of time.
You will also experience less “brain fog”.
It’s really hard to explain the feeling, because when you’re eating carbohydrates you don’t realize that your mind isn’t functioning at 100%. However, once you are in ketosis you will begin to see and feel the difference. Especially if you spend a day or two eating carbs again.
#2 Better Brain Function
Aside from weight loss, a huge reason why so many people are raving about ketogenic diet programs is due to improved brain function, clarity of thought, memory recall, improved learning etc. etc.
And science backs up these claims. One study performed on rats found that a ketogenic diet leads to cognitive performance in aged rats. Another rat study showed that the ketogenic diet was protective against diet induced cognitive impairment (from eating a standard western diet).
A study performed on humans found that ketogenic diets, even during the short term, can improve memory function in older adults. Additionally, a ketogenic diet was found to increase atp concentrations and the number of hippocampal mitochondria in the brain of mice by up to fifty percent. The hippocampus is involved in memory, emotion and learning.
Discover more ways to benefit from enhanced brain function and ketosis. Be certain to listen to this podcast from Healthful Pursuit.
#3 Decreased Pain & Lowered Inflammation
Ketosis has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties while also assisting with pain relief. Reducing glucose metabolism influences pain, so this could be one potential mechanism of action. In the review The Nervous System and Metabolic Dysregulation: Emerging Evidence Converges on Ketogenic Diet Therapy the authors look at numerous ways that a ketogenic diet can assist with pain and inflammation.
#4 Better Sleep
Many people on a ketogenic diet report sleeping much deeper, says Pamela Ellgen, a personal trainer and author of Sheet Pan Ketogenic. However, during the adjustment period (the first three to five days after you start keto), you may experience insomnia or difficulty staying asleep. This will end once your body adjusts to ketosis and burning stored fat. Then, you may find you’re able to sleep longer, sleep deeper, and feel more relaxed and rested when you wake up. Here are 15 things you need to know before starting the keto diet.
#5 Anxiety and Depression Diminish
Preliminary findings in one study of mice, shows that the keto diet helped reduce anxiety. The research suggests this could be due to the protective brain benefits of intake of healthy fats and low levels of sugar. A follow-up study found that mice exposed to a ketogenic diet while in utero showed less susceptibility to anxiety and depression than mice born to mothers who were not on the keto diet. Here’s what it’s really like to follow the keto diet.
#6 Mood Stabilization (Bipolar, Schizophrenia etc.)
A quick Google search of bipolar & ketosis will bring up hundreds of thousands of articles where people share their tales of improving bipolar symptoms with a ketogenic diet. Why? Because it appears that ketosis is extremely effective for dealing with mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.Why Keto is a Gamechanger
One of the great things about keto that isn’t mentioned above is the variety of delicious recipes that you get to make. If I told you that you can add butter and cheese to what you want would you be disappointed?
The ketogenic diet is much more than a diet. It really becomes a lifestyle that you adapt to and I have found that it is completely changing my for the better.