Ketogenic Diet Improves Outcomes in Patients on Antipsychotic Medications, Study Shows

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A recent pilot study by Stanford Medicine researchers found that a ketogenic diet can restore metabolic health and improve psychiatric conditions in individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder who are taking antipsychotic medications. These medications, although helpful in regulating brain chemistry, often come with unpleasant side effects such as insulin resistance and obesity, which can lead some patients to discontinue their medication.

Keto diet could be beneficial for management of psychiatric conditions

Study author Shebani Sethi, highlighted the promising aspect of regaining control over one’s illness beyond conventional care methods. Sethi discovered this during medical school while working in an obesity clinic. She observed a patient with treatment-resistant schizophrenia whose auditory hallucinations ceased while on a ketogenic diet. This prompted her to investigate scientific literature, revealing few dated case reports on the diet’s connection to schizophrenia, but abundant evidence on its efficacy for epilepsy, the diet’s original purpose.

The author said that ketogenic diet has shown efficacy in treating treatment-resistant epileptic seizures through reduction of excitability of brain neurons. As a result researchers thought it worth exploring the treatment in psychiatric disorders.

The study examined 21 adults with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder and metabolic issues, prescribed antipsychotics, followed a ketogenic diet: 10% carbs, 30% protein, 60% fat, without calorie counting.

Sethi emphasized whole, unprocessed foods with a focus on protein and non-starchy vegetables, advocating against fat restriction. He offered recipes, cookbooks, and health coaching during a trial, monitoring participants’ adherence via weekly blood ketone measurements. 14 were fully compliant, six semi-adherent, and one not. Psychiatric and metabolic assessments were conducted.

Keto diet reduces metabolic syndrome

Initially, 29% met metabolic syndrome criteria, including abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, low HDL, high blood pressure, and elevated glucose. After four months on keto diet, none had metabolic syndrome. Average weight loss was 10%, waist circumference reduced by 11%, with lower blood pressure, BMI, triglycerides, blood sugar, and insulin resistance.

There was progress in treating obesity, metabolic syndrome, and insulin resistance, even among patients on antipsychotic medication. Additionally, mental health improved by 31% with notable enhancements in energy, sleep, mood, and quality of life.

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