On a global scale, people are becoming more aware of how common anxiety is among us as well as how anxiety is related to depression, bipolar disorder, autism, and many other neurological disorders.
Even if you have not been diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder, you may still experience the symptoms of anxiety of a regular basis.
Prescribed medications may help those who have been diagnosed by a doctor, but the rest of us have likely all struggled with finding at-home solutions to reduce anxiety. Drinking tea, practicing yoga, applying essential oils, deep breathing exercises - you may have tried them all!
Many studies have suggested that there is a link between the body and the mind, and taking care of your body can help reduce anxiety!
A keto diet anxiety connection is being uncovered, and new evidence suggests that a low carb, high-fat diet may be the key to altering brain energy patterns that are commonly associated with anxiety.
Ketones for Anxiety
It turns out ketones may help reduce anxiety! There are two studies that were performed on rats that have shown positive results for reducing anxiety-driven behaviors after implementing a nutritional ketosis diet.
In 2009, lab rats were separated into two groups; one group was fed a standard diet and the second group was subjected to a low calorie, low carb, high-fat diet.
After a series of tests, it was determined that the second group had improved its motor behavior and had less anxiety altogether (1). It is also believed that a low-calorie diet is particularly beneficial to women who want to reduce anxiety.
Another study was published in 2016. This study was to find the effects of a ketone-supplemented diet on rats who exhibit anxiety behaviors.
It turns out that by supplementing ketones in the rats’ diets, their anxiety greatly reduced when performing in physical tests (4). The rats’ blood BHB levels also increased, which is an important factor in a successful keto diet.
While there are still ongoing studies to find all the keto diet anxiety connections, there is a lot of promising evidence!
The ketogenic diet is designed to reduce the number of calories eaten on a daily basis and to regulate blood sugar while exchanging insulin responses to blood ketone production for energy. It seems like this combination may be the key to reducing anxiety, especially in women.
How to Reduce Anxiety on a Keto Diet
How can the average person reduce their anxiety while on the keto diet? The answer lies in putting your body into ketosis.
While not eating on a keto diet, your brain activity can be hyperactive, and blood sugar plays a role in that type of energy. This can lead to behaviors commonly seen with anxiety.
The keto diet can lower blood sugar, and your body learns to use ketones for energy instead of glucose. This reduction in blood glucose can improve your brain function while still having enough energy for daily activities and exercise.
Ketosis typically takes 1-2 weeks to start after implementing a ketogenic diet. First, your body has to learn to adjust to the changes in metabolism.
By reducing your daily caloric intake and replacing carbs with healthy fats and proteins, you may experience symptoms of “keto flu”.
After the first couple of weeks of your ketogenic diet, your body will learn to utilize ketones over blood glucose for regulating mood swings and feeling calm during times you would typically feel anxious.
Use Ketone Supplements
To avoid symptoms of the keto flu, you may try taking ketone supplements. our ketones give you the benefits of ketosis without requiring you to partake in an extreme keto diet.
Just like in the 2016 study described above, taking exogenous ketones can increase your blood BHB level and possibly reduce anxiety.
Including a ketone supplement in your diet will directly increase your ketone level, so you’re less likely to experience the keto flu as your body adjusts to a reduction in blood sugar.
For more info on how to use chocolate ketones on a keto diet, please read here.
Mood Stabilizing Keto Diet
Psychiatric drugs, called mood stabilizers, are often prescribed to patients diagnosed with anxiety disorder.
While many people with anxiety find their medications very useful in regulating their moods, these medications can come with negative side effects. Some side effects of mood stabilizers are dramatic changes in weight, difficulty breathing, or even slurred speech.
Recent studies are beginning to uncover a keto diet anxiety reduction that stabilizes moods without needing a medication.
This is based on three main discoveries (2):
- The many studies that have shown the positive effects of a nutritional keto diet and epileptic seizures has led scientists to believe that ketosis may stabilize moods of those with bipolar disorder.
- Those with depression or manic depression have experienced a change in brain energy patterns while on the ketogenic diet. Cerebral Hypometabolism is a global characteristic of these individuals, and the changes in cerebral hypometabolism caused by ketosis are beneficial.
- The keto diet reduces intracellular sodium concentrations, which is a common benefit of mood stabilizing medication. This is possibly the strongest evidence in showing the powers of the keto diet.
If you have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, or you experience regular anxiety for periods of time, it may be time to speak to your doctor about starting a ketogenic diet.
It’s very possible a low calorie and low carb diet can reduce your anxiety!
Ketogenic Diets and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
There has been a surge in research on how the ketogenic diet affects autism spectrum disorder patients. It is widely believed that gastrointestinal dysfunction and gut microbial disturbances play key roles in a gut-brain axis that affects the functions of autism spectrum disorder.
Another 2016 study on rats was executed to find the changes in gut microbial activity after a ketogenic diet was induced.
Samples showed that a keto diet created an antimicrobial effect by significantly reducing the number of bacteria in fecal matter. In fact, it seems the ketogenic diet even counteracted common types of bacteria that are specifically associated with ASD (3).
Not only is it likely that the ketogenic diet can trigger a reduction in gut microbes altogether, but it may even remodel the composition of the gastrointestinal system in those with autism spectrum disorder.
Based on the relationship believed to be had between the gut and brain, the ketogenic diet can possibly resolve some of the neurological symptoms that are associated with ASD!
For more info on how the keto diet can support ASD, check out our in-depth article here.
There is still plenty left to be discovered about ketones and how they can affect our cognitive functions.
While it has been proven that a nutritional ketogenic diet can reduce seizures in epileptic patients, there is much work to be done to understand the diet’s relation to anxiety.
As scientists further uncover the gut-brain connection to anxiety, you can start reducing your anxiety now by implementing your own keto diet.
To avoid exhausting symptoms of the keto flu, you can take chocolate ketones. These can increase your ketone level, making you less likely to experience dips in energy during the first weeks of your diet.
You don’t need to partake in an extreme ketogenic diet to experience its beneficial effects. Speak to your doctor about how a ketogenic diet may help you control your anxiety!