Adjunctive Ketogenic Diet Aids Outcomes With Serious Mental Illness

Benefits seen across anthropometric, metabolic, biomarker, and psychiatric outcomes
Adjunctive Ketogenic Diet Aids Outcomes With Serious Mental Illness
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Medically Reviewed By:
Meeta Shah, M.D.

THURSDAY, April 4, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- An adjunctive ketogenic dietary treatment may improve outcomes for individuals with serious mental illness and existing metabolic abnormalities, according to a pilot study published online March 27 in Psychiatry Research.

Shebani Sethi, M.D., from Stanford Medicine in California, and colleagues investigated the effects of a four-month ketogenic diet on individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder with existing metabolic abnormalities. The analysis included 23 participants in a single arm.

The researchers found improvements in metabolic health, with no participants meeting metabolic syndrome criteria by study conclusion. There were significant reductions in weight (12 percent), body mass index (12 percent), waist circumference (13 percent), and visceral adipose tissue (36 percent) among adherent individuals. There were also improvements in biomarkers, including a 27 percent decrease in homeostatic model assessment for insulin resistance and a 25 percent drop in triglyceride levels. Participants with schizophrenia showed a 32 percent reduction in Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale scores. Additionally, overall Clinical Global Impression (CGI) severity improved by an average of 31 percent and the proportion of participants who started with elevated symptomatology improved at least 1 point on the CGI (79 percent). Participants reported increased life satisfaction (17 percent) and enhanced sleep quality (19 percent).

"The ketogenic diet has been proven to be effective for treatment-resistant epileptic seizures by reducing the excitability of neurons in the brain," Sethi said in a statement. "We thought it would be worth exploring this treatment in psychiatric conditions."

Abstract/Full Text 

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