Can keto help with anxiety?

Written by Molly Becker, Director of KetoBars on September 28th 2020

Keep reading to discover how the keto diet can help manage your anxiety. 👇

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Does food affect your mood?

Most of us have heard about the physical benefits of the keto diet: like weight loss, low blood pressure, and low cholesterol. But, studies have shown that the keto diet can also boost your mood and help to relieve stress and anxiety (in 2020, we all could use a little bit of help with that).

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US, affecting over 40 million adults, with only 36% of those people actually seeking treatment.

We have good news. New research has shown that diet is one of the most powerful tools for managing anxiety. You may be able to treat your anxiety simply by following the keto diet.

Lets get a bit technical.

As we know, the ketogenic diet has been extensively studied for its physical benefits, but what we’re learning is that it doesn’t stop there. If you’ve been following the research rolling out in more recent years, the amount of information we now know about keto and overall brain function is nothing short of astounding. Some of the psychological benefits that keto dieters are experiencing are: mental clarity, improved cognitive function, boosted mood, and more energy. If this is no surprise to you, what you might not know is that a neurotransmitter called GABA plays a significant role in why this happens.

What is GABA? GABA is a neurotransmitter that is especially known for its calming effects. In fact, it is called an inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning it calms the nervous system and has been found to combat anxiety. In contrast, glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter, and both work together to maintain balance and homeostasis in the body.

Studies show that a ketogenic diet can increase GABA levels by helping to facilitate the conversion from glutamate to GABA. By providing the brain with ketones versus glucose as an energy source, the conversion of glutamate to GABA becomes more efficient.

Sugar is not your friend. 

Lindsey Smith, Author of the forthcoming book Eat Your Feelings: The Food Mood Girl’s Guide To Transforming Your Emotional Eating states “Sugar is a culprit of many mood disorders and can be found in most everyday items, which can make it hard to stay away from. Additionally, when you are feeling stressed or anxious, your body tends to crave sugary foods because your body is looking for a quick, feel-good serotonin boost. However, sugar will only lead to a crash and can actually worsen anxiety symptoms over time”.

Two of the main reasons the keto diet can help to alleviate anxiety is due to the increase in healthy fats and decrease in sugar.

Additionally, with the increased consumption of healthy fats such as avocados or fish, the keto diet can help to boost brain function, promoting new cell growth, which can help to combat mood disorders like depression and anxiety.

Feel less anxious and more present. 

In conclusion, food definitely CAN affect your mood (in a positive way!). Making healthier choices is always good for you physically but now we know that it’s good for you mentally as well, which is just as important!

As you familiarize yourself and become comfortable with a ketogenic way of eating, we hope you continue to unfold and discover more and more amazing benefits of this way of living. Like a more calm, relaxed mind.

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