How Can A Ketogenic Diet Help Treat Brain Diseases?
There is quite a lot of information out there, including discussions, on how a Ketogenic diet, that is a low carb intake, can help with some brain disorders.
As we know physical exercise can also help in the treatment of Brain Diseases – so again we have the connection between Diet and Exercise………
Work was undertaken as far back as 1924 to look at the relationship between a low carb diet and epilepsy and produced some interesting results.
New Articles can be found that discuss the impact that the Keto Diet has on Moods in us people. For example, Popsugar has an article on the emotional benefits of the Ketogenic Diet.
So educate me, how does this work? How does Diet effect the brain……..positively.
Well Shelly Fan in the Scientific American Discusses Three likely reasons. The Guest Blog is a bit techy, but her explanations are interesting.
“One answer may be energy. Despite their superficial differences, many neurological diseases share one major problem – deficient energy production. During metabolic stress, ketones serve as an alternative energy source to maintain normal brain cell metabolism. In fact, BHB (a major ketone) may be an even more efficient fuel than glucose, providing more energy per unit of oxygen used. A ketogenic diet also increases the number of mitochondria, the so called “energy factories” in brain cells. A recent study found enhanced expression of genes encoding for mitochondrial enzymes and energy metabolism in the hippocampus, a part of the brain important for learning and memory. Hippocampal cells often degenerate in age-related brain diseases, leading to cognitive dysfunction and memory loss. With increased energy reserve, neurons may be able to ward off disease stressors that would usually exhaust and kill the cell.”
“A ketogenic diet may also DIRECTLY inhibit a major source of neuronal stress, by-well- acting like a blueberry. Reactive oxygen species, also known as Oxidants or Free Radicals are unfortunate byproducts of cellular metabolism. Unlike the gas Oxygen (O2), these “oxidants” have a single electron that makes them highly reactive, bombarding into proteins and membranes and wrecking their structure. Increased oxidants are a hallmark of aging, stroke and nerve degeneration.
Ketones directly inhibit the production of these violent molecules, and enhance their breakdown through increasing the activity of glutathione peroxidase, a part of our innate anti-oxidant system. The low intake of carbohydrates also directly reduces glucose oxidation (something called “glycolysis”). Using a glucose-like non-metabolized analogue, one studyfound that neurons activate stress proteins to lower oxidant levels and stabilize mitochondria.”
“Due to its high fat nature, a ketogenic diet increases poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs, such as DHA and EPA, both sold over-the-counter as “brain healthy” supplements), which in turn reduces oxidant production and inflammation. Inflammatory stress is another “root of all evil”, which PUFAs target by inhibiting the expression of genes encoding for pro-inflammatory factors.”
Boy that was a bit heavy! It slowed down my reading ……… but going over it slowly enough I think I got the idea of how the keto diet can have a positive impact on the function of the brain. Some doozy language in there but all very interesting.
Yes I did warn you that it was a bit techy, but by reading it slowly/carefully most of it can be understood…..um I think (-:
If you would like to read the whole article by Shelly Fan you will find it here:
I have to say it took me a while to read the article but I found it fascinating.