This Is What Happens To Your Brain When You Cut Out Carbohydrates

Mental and physical health are linked — here’s how.

Treatment for mental health conditions is not always effective. Sometimes the meds work, sometimes they don’t. When they don’t, science has to look beyond the usual parameters for the solutions needed.

That’s why, between 2019 and 2020, French psychiatrists carried out an experiment on adults with “severe, persistent mental illness”. These various illnesses included major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizoaffective disorder. Their symptoms had responded poorly to intensive drug treatment.

Twenty-eight adults (thirty-one originally, but three dropped out for personal reasons) were admitted to a psychiatric hospital and put on a very low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet for between two and eleven weeks. They ate no more than 20 grams of carbohydrate a day, sourced from vegetables, nuts, dark chocolate and lemon juice.

Protein made up 15%-20% of daily calories, and fat the rest.

The scientists monitored the participants’ mental health using standard clinical rating scores. They also applied consummate joined-up thinking to the study by simultaneously assessing measures of metabolic health. These were measures of obesity, high blood sugar, and high blood fats, all “commonplace” in people with severe mental ill-health.

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