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While the ketogenic diet has a long history in neurology, scientists are now beginning to discover what the ketogenic diet can do for anxiety disorders.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States affecting 18.1 percent of the population,1 and there is speculation as to what role diet plays – if any – in the development and prevalence of anxiety disorders.

The Neurological Connection

The ketogenic diet is instrumental in treating symptoms associated with epilepsy, which makes some scientists interested in whether the ketogenic diet can have a positive effect on other neurological and mental illnesses. Anxiety is especially prevalent among people with epilepsy, and since the ketogenic diet can ameliorate symptoms of epilepsy, some scientists hypothesize it could also improve symptoms of anxiety. 

Ketones for Anxiety

A 2016 study performed by researchers at the University of South Florida at Tampa set out to study the link between the ketogenic diet and its impact on anxiety. For seven days they gave rats a ketone supplement along with their normal-carb diets. They found that the rats who were given a ketone supplement experienced a reduction in anxious behavior compared to their control group. This led the researchers to believe that nutritional ketosis can have alleviating effects on anxiety in humans.2

Another study performed in 2009 published in “Epilepsy & Behavior” found that rats who were fed low-calorie ketogenic diets displayed less anxiety than rats on a normal diet.3

This study was meant to explore whether the ketogenic diet could be beneficial for young girls with Rett syndrome, an autism-spectrum neurological disorder that affects the brain development of girls. If the ketonic diet reduced anxiety in rats, perhaps it can reduce anxiety in girls with Rett syndrome.

Prenatal Keto and Anxiety: Protecting the future of mental health

There may be reason to believe that pregnant women who follow the ketogenic diet might be giving their children a mental health advantage. A study found that mice who were exposed to the ketogenic diet in utero were less likely to exhibit anxiety and depression symptoms after birth.4 They also experienced elevated physical activity levels, which is no doubt a boon to mental and physical health. 

A mood-stabilizing diet?

Many people who are diagnosed with anxiety disorders end up taking a mood stabilizer, a psychiatric drug that helps reduce intense and sustained mood shifts in patients. Turns out, there may be a way to help stabilize mood without a medication, especially since medications can sometimes have negative side effects, such as weight gain, trouble breathing, and slurred speech. 

The ketogenic diet may have mood-stabilizing properties. The state of ketosis changes the brain on a cellular level that decreases “intracellular sodium concentrations”, which is a common property in all effective mood stabilizers.5

So whether you suffer from a severe anxiety disorder, or if you experience a general sense of anxiety on a regular basis, it might be time to talk to your mental health professional about starting a ketogenic diet. Health of the body means health of the mind, and there’s nothing like the ketogenic diet for a healthy mind. 



The content on this website should not be taken as medical advice and you should ALWAYS consult with your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program. We provide nutritional data for our recipes as a courtesy to our readers. We use Total Keto Diet app software to calculate the nutrition and we remove fiber and sugar alcohols, like erythritol, from the total carbohydrate count to get to the net carb count, as they do not affect your blood glucose levels. You should independently calculate nutritional information on your own and not rely on our data. The website or content herein is not intended to cure, prevent, diagnose or treat any disease. This website shall not be liable for adverse reactions or any other outcome resulting from the use of recipes or recommendations on the Website or actions you take as a result. Any action you take is strictly at your own risk.

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