Are There Any Mental Health Benefits of Being on Low Carb?

Are There Any Mental Health Benefits of Being on Low Carb?

Our nutrition can play a key role in our mental health. The connection between nutrition and mental health is emerging as an important discipline in the 21st century. The onset of any mental illness is often related to a biochemical link, but on the contrary, our nutrition is directly responsible for the severity of mental disorders. 

Diets such as low carb and keto yield promising results for many mental health conditions. Recent studies have proved that low-carb diets have tremendous potential for managing various psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, and dementia, among others. 

Without wasting much time, here is a list of benefits that low-carb diets can have on mental health

Five benefits of low-carb diets on mental health and wellbeing 

1. Promotes the "feel-good" effect and reduces stress

One crucial benefit of a low-carb high-fat diet (LCHF) is anxiety reduction. Poor functioning of neurotransmitters like GABA results in increased anxiety. The lower levels of neurotransmitters trigger impulsive and aggressive behaviour, which largely influences acts of suicide. 

Being on the state of low-carb diet reverses this phenomenon. It increases the generation of the GABA neurotransmitters in the brain, which boosts the feel-good effect and helps in achieving mental focus and reducing anxiety. 

2. Enhances brain function 

Studies have suggested that low-carb or ketogenic diets improve overall brain function and lower inflammation. Inflammation causes many psychiatric disorders. Less than 130 grams of carbohydrates a day helps to achieve good brain function. Lower carbs supply energy to a person's brain through the help of ketogenesis. Your body increases ketone production while you're on a low-carb diet. These ketones act like fuel for 75% of the brain. Diets on fewer carbs also reduce oxidative stress in the brain and contribute to enhanced brain functioning

3. Effective In Treating Depression

Low-carb diets are effective in treating depression. Researchers have concluded how high sugar consumption can contribute to depression; including high inflammation and insulin resistance, thus creating harmful negative effects on neurotransmitters and the kynurenine pathway.  

On the contrary, diets which emphasise the utilisation of foods like nuts and olive oil reduces symptoms of depression. Researchers also discuss that the lower the sugar consumption, the better is your psychological and mental health

The kynurenine pathway regulates levels of dopamine, serotonin, and GABA. Therefore, any disruptive effect on the brain pathway triggers the risk of depression and other mental health disorders.

4. Stabilises binge eating behaviours 

People who practice low-carb diets experience relief from eating disorders or bulimia. Low-carb diets suppress appetite and binge eating disorders. Through low-carb diets, one can control their symptoms of unending cravings or overeating. 

In a recently published case series of 3 obese patients with binge eating disorder, low-carb or keto diets demonstrated a reduction in binge eating and food addiction while also losing weight.

Although different people have their own trigger foods, studies have demonstrated the fact that consumption of high sugar, flour or fruit juices are the chief culprits in activating acts of overeating. High sugar diets also stimulate hormonal instability and contribute to sweating and shaking. 

5. Helps improve Alzheimer's disease

The neurological degenerative disease, Alzheimer's, is a silent epidemic that affects memory, behaviour, and decision-making. This disease slows down the brain and reduces brain function. Low-carb diets help prevent and treat Alzheimer's and stages of pre-Alzheimers ‌efficiently. 

A low-carb diet improves mental clarity and has a beneficial impact on memory function in older people. Low-carb diets improve thinking and quality of life in early Alzheimer's patients. 

The bottom line

A low-carb lifestyle undoubtedly contributes to psychological wellbeing. It is a gateway toward sound mental health. It's time to take a break from the unhealthy modern dietary pattern to unlock the magic of low carb. 

References:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/diagnosis-diet/201906/8-reasons-try-low-carb-mental-health

https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/mental-health

https://jeatdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40337-020-0278-7

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6988301/

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