Ketosis: A Natural Metabolic State That Can Improve Mental Health

Nutritional ketosis has been proven to improve metabolic and inflammatory markers, including lipids, HbA1c, high-sensitivity CRP, fasting insulin and glucose levels, and aid in weight management.

So in essence it helps to:

  • Therapeutic ketosis is being explored as a treatment for mental illness, but some believe ketosis itself is dangerous.
  • However, the concerns about ketosis come from a misunderstanding between nutritional ketosis and diabetic ketoacidosis.
  • Nutritional ketosis is a normal, safe metabolic state that can benefit mental health.

What is Ketosis?

Ketosis is a natural metabolic state where the body burns fat for fuel. Here are some key points about ketosis:

  • Our bodies can run on glucose or fat for energy, like a hybrid car can use gas or electricity.
  • When we burn fat for energy, our bodies produce ketones as a byproduct.
  • Our muscles and brains can then use these ketones for energy production.
  • Normal nutritional ketosis produces blood ketone levels of 0.5-4 mmol/L.
  • Ketosis allows us to go hours or days without dietary carbohydrates. Our livers can produce all the glucose we need from fat and protein.

The Dangers of Ketoacidosis

  • Ketoacidosis is a life-threatening diabetes complication that can be confused with nutritional ketosis.
  • In ketoacidosis, blood ketone levels are extremely high, around 10 mmol/L or more.
  • The blood also becomes acidic, which is very dangerous. This does NOT occur in nutritional ketosis.
  • Doctors learn about ketoacidosis in medical school but not about safe nutritional ketosis. This causes confusion.

Benefits of Ketosis for Mental Health

Emerging research suggests therapeutic ketosis can benefit several mental health conditions:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Major depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Anxiety
  • Dementia

Some key benefits include:

  • Improved metabolic health
  • More efficient energy production in the brain
  • Less dependence on glucose and insulin
  • Ability to treat symptoms and in some cases reverse illness

Ketosis Allows the Brain to Run More Efficiently

  • The brain can get up to 70% of its energy from ketones during ketosis.
  • The remaining 30% comes from glucose, not dietary carbs. The body makes all the glucose it needs.
  • For those with metabolic dysfunction, ketosis provides energy more efficiently than carbohydrates.

In Summary:

  • Nutritional ketosis is a normal, evolutionary metabolic state. It is not the same as potentially fatal ketoacidosis.
  • Ketosis provides all the energy the body and brain needs through ketones and gluconeogenesis.
  • Therapeutic ketosis is a promising intervention for certain mental health conditions.
  • Ketosis is safe and can improve metabolic factors involved in mental illness.

Consult your doctor before making major diet changes. But ketosis itself does not need to be feared. It is a natural metabolic state that can potentially help treat stubborn mental health conditions.

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