Low-Carb Diet and Mental Health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. While many are aware of the use of low-carbohydrate and ketogenic diets for weight loss and metabolic health, there is a growing body of evidence and resources suggesting that these diets can improve symptoms for those suffering with depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, alcohol cravings and more.

Dr. Georgia Ede, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist specializing in nutritional and metabolic psychiatry, has spoken widely about the powerful connection between a psychiatric or medical diagnosis and diet. Her practice focuses on utilizing a ketogenic diet approach because she believes that “what we eat is by far the single most important factor in our mental and physical health.”

Another noted psychiatrist, Dr. Christopher Palmer, spoke with Drs. Tro Kalayjian and Brian Lenzkes on the Low Carb MD Podcast about his experiences using a ketogenic diet for treatment-resistant depression in his practice.

At ROSETTE’S we get emails and social media messages daily from people letting us know how and why they have benefited from a no-sugar approach. Wrote one of our regular customers: “I had noticed my young kids would get grumpy and low-energy after eating sugary snacks after school, but when I started quietly subbing in some low-sugar treats (because I was on a low-carb diet to lose weight and didn’t want to keep sugary stuff in the house!), they started to have less lows. I slowly replaced everything in the house with the low-sugar stuff and now they complain they don’t feel great when they eat the ‘regular’ treats at birthday parties. But what really surprised me is how my own mood improved going low carb. I’ve always had low-level (sometimes more) depression and a few months into limiting carbs I realized I hadn’t had any serious lows in months. How come no one really talks about this?”

The use of diet and lifestyle interventions has often been called into question by evidence-based proponents, but there is data that using a ketogenic diet can reduce depression scores by about 20%. Another study confirms the adverse effect of sugar intake on long-term psychological health and suggests that lower intake of sugar may be associated with better mental health. And yet another study indicates that an almond-based low carbohydrate diet can improve depression symptoms.

While no diet can cure the impact of childhood trauma or take away your daily stressors, a well-formulated low-carbohydrate diet can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, setting you up for optimal well-being.  

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