Posted on: January 30th, 2023

Psychiatric disorders are serious medical conditions that impair emotional, cognitive, social, and behavioral functions. The rates of many psychiatric disorders have been increasing over the past decade. Clinical treatment approaches to many of these conditions are limited or come with a number of challenging side effects. This has led many researchers to look at differing approaches for treatments, particularly those that have a nutritional basis, and may be better tolerated.

One area of recent investigation for psychiatric disorder treatment is inducing ketogenesis, either vis dietary changes (i.e., natural ketosis) or the use of supplements (i.e., endogenous ketone supplementation). Ketone diets and exogenous ketone supplementation look to achieve a state of natural ketosis (NK). During a state of NK, certain ketone bodies replace carbohydrates as fuel to the brain and other organs. 

Ketones & Psychiatric Help

Ketogenic diets feature high-fat, adequate-protein, and very low carbohydrate foods and beverages, and from historical accounts may have an alleviating effect on some psychiatric conditions. Research has suggested bioenergetics and ketosis may have effects on neuronal activity, neurotransmitter balance, and inflammatory processes.  

Unfortunately, strict patient compliance with ketogenic diets is necessary to achieve therapeutic ketosis. Adherence to these diets can be difficult or impossible for most people. Ketogenic diets typically need to be overseen by a medical professional, which can be unaffordable or even unavailable for some people.

Potential Psychiatric Benefits of Ketones

A ketogenic diet could potentially lead to numerous benefits for patients suffering from certain psychiatric disorders. The fact that an unmonitored keto diet would likely have low compliance makes it difficult to implement as a successful intervention, or to study in a larger-scale research setting. Strict adherence and oversight are required for a keto diet to succeed, something that can be very hard to achieve in clinical practice or the general population.

The potential for positive effects of a ketogenic diet on psychiatric disorders, however, has led to many smaller-scale studies. Different psychiatric conditions may react differently to ketogenic diets, which is why many modern studies focus on specific conditions.  Psychiatric disorders that are under investigation with ketogenic diets include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Major depressive disorder
  • ADHD
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia

Research at Biofortis

Biofortis is dedicated to protecting consumer health worldwide by delivering a wide range of testing and consultancy services to the food, supplement, and nutrition industries. Biofortis supports this mission in two ways—through clinical trials and sensory and consumer insights testing. We specialize in clinical research targeting foods, ingredients, and dietary supplements that affect body structures, function, and overall health. Contact us with any clinical trial or scientific consulting needs.

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