July 18, 2024

Stanford Study Suggests Keto Diet Could Benefit Those with Severe Mental Disorders

The standard treatment for people living with serious mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder has been antipsychotic medications.

These drugs might help regular brain chemistry but they also cause metabolic side effects on the body like increasing body weight leading to obesity, and insulin resistance. This can be quite distressing for patients who then have to stop their medication.


The ketogenic (keto) diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate eating plan designed to induce a metabolic state called ketosis in the body. Ketosis occurs when the body burns fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates, leading to the production of ketones, which are used as an alternative energy source.

The drastic reduction in carbohydrates forces the body to switch from using glucose (sugar) as its primary fuel source to using fat, including both dietary fat and stored body fat.

Foods commonly consumed on a keto diet include meat, fish, eggs, high-fat dairy products, nuts, seeds, avocados, and low-carbohydrate vegetables. Foods to avoid or limit include grains, sugars, starchy vegetables, fruits, and most processed foods.


“It’s very promising and very encouraging that you can take back control of your illness in some way, aside from the usual standard of care,” said Shebani Sethi, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences and the first author of the new paper.

The study followed 21 adult participants diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, taking antipsychotic medications, and experiencing metabolic abnormalities.

Over four months, participants followed a ketogenic diet consisting of approximately 10% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 60% fat, without calorie counting.

“The focus of eating is on whole non-processed foods including protein and non-starchy vegetables, and not restricting fats,” said Sethi, who shared keto-friendly meal ideas with the participants. They were also given keto cookbooks and access to a health coach.

Results showed significant improvements in both metabolic and psychiatric parameters. Participants experienced weight loss, reduced waist circumference, lower blood pressure, triglycerides, blood sugar levels, and insulin resistance.

None of the participants met the criteria for metabolic syndrome post-trial.

Psychiatrically, participants demonstrated a 31% improvement on a clinical global impressions scale, with three-quarters showing clinically meaningful progress.

Source: https://www.indiatoday.in/