Even before the coronavirus hit our shores, some 40 million adults in the U.S.—and countless kids and teens—struggled with an anxiety disorder.
And now, a full year into the pandemic, it’s safe to say that we’re hurtling toward a full-blown national mental health crisis. (I don’t have the exact statistics on hand, but I’m willing to wager that these numbers have at least doubled.)
Of course, there’s no shortage of anti-anxiety drugs out there. But they’re hardly risk-free—and most of my patients, at least, prefer natural alternatives.
The good news is that there are plenty. And it just so happens that a ketogenic diet may be one of the most effective approaches of all…
Repairing your “second brain”
Simply changing your nutrition offers a whole host of health benefits—and can do as much for your mood as Big Pharma drugs, without the nasty side effects.
I’ve been touting the benefits of a ketogenic diet since the beginning of my career—long before it was fashionable. And almost 30 years later, I still believe it to be the basis of good health.
Not only because it can help prevent, treat, and even reverse chronic disease… but because it can combat mood disorders, like anxiety, to boot.
Ketogenic dieting helps your body generate more nitric oxide (NO) and, in turn, boosts blood flow to the brain. But its effects on your gut—also known as your second brain—are just as important.
Your gut influences your central nervous system via short–chain fatty acids and neurotransmitters. It relies on bacteria—like Akkermansia muciniphila and Lactobacillus—to do this.
So it only makes sense that you nutrition could affect your mood through a number of potential pathways—most particularly, by interactions between your gut’s effect on neurotransmitter production, and the resulting psychological outcomes.
As I’ve mentioned here before, a majority of your body’s serotonin (one of our body’s “happy” chemicals”) is synthesized in the gut. Which is probably the most obvious way that a low-carb, high fat, ketogenic diet could protect your mood—namely, by protecting your gut.
But the anti-inflammatory effects—including its effects on stress hormones like cortisol and free radical levels—are just as important.
Ketogenic diets may also help to balance excess glutamate (which can overexcite the brain), while reversing deficiencies of GABA (which is a popular stress and anxiety relief supplement for a reason).
Take your probiotics every day
Naturally, there isn’t anything surprising behind the notion that you’ll see the best mood benefits if you’re eating nutrient-dense and minimally processed food. That’s just Nutrition 101.
But since a strong and well-functioning gut-brain axis is the linchpin here, repairing your microbiome is key. (I provide an ultimate guide to a complete microbiome makeover in the March and April 2019 issues of my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter.)
But to kick things off, my top recommendation is to add a great, high-quality probiotic to your ketogenic diet regimen. And remember, when it comes to probiotics, more isn’t necessarily better. The key is diversity of strains over quantity. So I advise finding a product that features different strains of friendly flora—along with prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics.
After all, these good bugs (probiotics) are in our bodies for a reason. And scientific evidence suggests that a lot of them have the ability to generate hormones and other neuroactive compounds… all of which play a complex role in curbing anxiety.
For additional ways to steel yourself against stress and ultimately boost your mood—and your mind—check out the January 2021 issue of my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter (“A new year with a new normal: Six resolutions to keep you thriving through the continued chaos of COVID-19”). Subscribers have access to this and all of my past content in the archives. So if you haven’t already, consider signing up today. Click here now!
P.S. I just have to say, it’s always exciting to me to see new research confirm what I have learned over the years. Just about everything I know, I learned from the low–carb guru himself, Dr. Robert Atkins. He may have become a superstar because of weight loss… but he knew this diet was the key to staying healthy, period. And now, I’m thrilled to see that science is finally catching up.
“Review Points to Evidence of Ketogenic Diet Being Helpful to Anxiety.” Nutraceuticals World, 12/21/2020. (nutraceuticalsworld.com/contents/view_breaking-news/2020-12-21/review-points-to-evidence-of-ketogenic-diet-being-helpful-to-anxiety/)