The Keto Diet and the Brain
If followed correctly, the keto diet can provide a range of health benefits. One of the advantages of implementing a keto diet is its positive impact on our brain. When the body is in a keto state, enough ketones are produced to fuel the brain's energy level. Ketones are burned using different enzymes that improve the health of the brain.
While you are in this stage of the ketogenic diet, the ketones play a vital role in the body. They act as neuroprotective antioxidants that can help prevent harmful radicals from damaging brain cells.
Ketones are a safer and more efficient energy source than sugar. The beta-hydroxybutyrate, or the ketone body, fuels more energy to the brain than glucose and burning ketones can help improve brain health. As the brain ages, it needs to burn ketones to sustain proper function.
Ketones are also responsible for increasing the production of mitochondrial genes that play an essential role in metabolism. The keto diet enhances the performance of the brain, while these genes help protect it against stroke and many neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Diseases.
Ketones improve function by increasing the GABAergic tone while decreasing the glutamatergic tone. GABA is the inhibitory neurotransmitter of the brain. Glutamate is the excitatory neurotransmitter. The latter is responsible for memory function, neural communication, and learning. However, it can become damaged if the glutamate has excessive stimulation, leading to various conditions like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). People who follow a keto diet may be at a lower risk for these conditions because ketones help prevent increases in glutamate.
Ketones also enhance the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). It is a kind of protein that supports or preserves existing neurons while helping new neurons as they grow. Ketones can also improve the function of different areas of the brain like the cortex, basal forebrain, and hippocampus. These parts are responsible for various functions of the brain such as memory, learning, and thinking.
A keto diet is often recommended for people who have Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Keto is a safe approach for these kinds of diseases because of its benefits for the brain. If a keto diet is introduced during the early stages of these diseases, or at the first sign of symptoms, it may be possible to delay progression or reduce the severity of the symptoms.
Despite the potential for significant health benefits, it is always best to consult a physician or health professional before starting any diet—even a ketogenic diet—as a way to treat any disease or illness.
Yours in health and wellness,
Paige Koeberle, Clean Slate Essentials