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Category: Science

The Ketogenic Diet fights Alzheimer's, epilepsy, and more, says the NIH

Ketogenic Diet Benefits

If you’re a part of our community on Facebook, you may remember seeing a study I recently posted regarding the long-term impacts of the ketogenic diet in a study of obese patients. The study, available thanks to the US National Library of Medicine and the NIH, had some very interesting findings on the impact of diet on brain and body health, and my post on the subject saw a lot of traction. Because of that, and because the findings have such importance, I wanted to share the research with you here. The study shows that the ketogenic diet has efficacy as a treatment for Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, depression, migraines, and many other illnesses that plague huge portions of our population. I encourage you to read this study and to learn more.

  • Lynn Dell

    I should title this episode “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the
    Doctor’s Office.” I set out to get a physical and my blood work done
    about a week ago, and a terrific snowstorm whipped up while I was en
    route – coming down so fast there was nothing you could do but crawl
    along, and visibility was greatly diminished. Multiple people were
    sliding, some off the road.

    By the time I arrived at the office, I was extremely anxious, and remained so for the rest of the appointment. The doctor was pleased that my weight was down, and I told her I’m trying a ketogenic diet and that I’m avoiding gluten. She explained to me that she too, avoids gluten. My blood was drawn shortly before I left the office, and the roads were still horrible, but I made it home fine, after passing by many accidents.

    My fasting glucose came back in at 53. 53!!?? I wasn’t faint, and besides that isn’t any where close to where my glucose monitor reads in the morning. My hemoglobin A1C was near the top of within normal limits. I was flummoxed when I read the report. I called them and they suggested I have repeat blood work done in 3 months, after which I will meet with my doctor again.

    I’m wondering if the anxiety had anything to do with these weird numbers. I don’t want to be THAT ketogenic. Oh well.

  • Karen

    I have been on a ketogenic diet for a few months now purely because I feel it is the healthy way to live and not because I am overweight (uk size 10) nor because of adverse blood results. I have in particular noticed how well I’ve been sleeping but more importantly I have, especially more recently, the most incredibly vivid and involving dreams. Sometimes I wake up feeling I’ve had a different life while asleep, almost to the point of feeling drained by it. I was wondering if anybody else has experienced this.

    • Lynn Dell

      Psychiatrist Dr. Georgia Ede put herself on a ketogenic diet and made detailed blog entries on the subject. Under the heading of week four, she mentions vivid dreams several times: http://diagnosisdiet.com/ketosis-week-4/

    • Hillary

      I just started the supplements recommended in Grain Brain and I had the exact same thing happen to me with exhausting dreams. I am only taking 1/2 the recommended dose. I think I need to cut back further. Does anyone know if these vivid dreams are good or bad? Does it mean my brain is healthier on the supplements or not?

  • J

    concerning the dreams I have been exp. the same and am so happy about it because I haven’t been remembering my dreams for years now, I see it as sign of a healthier brain!
    about the fasting glucose; being hypoglycemic I can tell you that stress most clearly affects your blood sugar levels! have you purchased the keytone test stripes? I found them at Walmart for $6. Dr. Perlmutter explained them in his book.

    • Lynn Dell

      Hi, J, thanks. I have not purchased the ketone test strips. I would rather get the blood testing kit on account for better accuracy, but I don’t want to pay for it. I am thinking of getting some urine test strips.

      The reason I haven’t yet is I assume if my fasting glucose is in the 70s or low 80s, if I am diligent about small meals, about eating very low carbs and very modest protein and high good fat, about drinking lots of water, and practicing fasting, then odds are I’m in some ketosis.

      The fact that I was able to function well driving in hazardous weather for over an hour (both ways combined) with a number of 53 means something, too. Normally that number carries with it some symptoms, but I had none of them. My body must have been getting the energy it needed from some other source is my tentative conclusion. But I’m st

  • Linda Hanley

    My anxiety has worsened since reducing my carbs. In fact for the first time in my life I have begun a course of medication for it. Carb reduction and going completely gluten free helped eliminate IBS and joint pain, but not my anxiety.

    • richardhg

      What helps me is getting more fat calories into my diet. I swear by short chain fats, the kind in coconut milk and coconut oil. I use coconut milk in no-sugar-added hot chocolate: 50/50 coconut milk and water. It gives my brain an instant energy boost, and I LOVE chocolate. 🙂

      • Kelly

        The product I’ve been sharing that I swear by has those short chain fatty acids in it.. Along with betahydroxybuterate and an AMINO ACID BLEND (L-Taurine, L-tyrosine, L-arginine, L-leucine) which helps protect and build muscle tissue.

        It puts you into ketosis with a single serving in an hour. Can be tested third party with urine or blood tests!

        • Elli

          What brand of amino acids are you buying?

  • Alph

    I try to follow close to a ketogenic diet for general health and have been very happy with the weight loss and how I feel.
    Today I saw an article that said a new supplement helped greatly with weight loss (especially visceral fat). the supplement contains the herbs purple mangosteen and globe thistle. I wonder if the herbs are having an effect similar to that of the ketogenic diet since the effect on body fat seems to be the same. I wonder if this supplement, called Meratrim, would be a good add to a ketogenic diet.

  • Trial Error

    Any long term diet (caloric restricted) will have a health benefit for obese individuals.

    • David Perlmutter

      There are a wealth of benefits to caloric restriction. Multiple studies on this site support that claim: http://www.drperlmutter.com/learn/studies/

      • Maryann

        Hi Dr. Perlmutter, I loved Grain Brain! I understand the fasting protocol you outlined as optimal; but do you believe that there are any benefits to shorter, weekly intermittent fasting periods of 12-16 hours? Thank you very much,

  • antoniobucci .

    Has anybody heard of the program SCD Lifestyle by Jordan Reasoner &
    Steven Wright ?

  • Laura

    I’m questioning the ability of a small female like myself to be able to sustain “ketosis”. I attempted ketoadaptation (per Volek & Phinney) but have found it very difficult to keep in ketosis. I’m 5’1″ and 115 after 1 month of low carbing. I’m on a low budget so have not done blood testing, but random urine testing has indicated 30-50 carbs a day is not low enough to sustain nutritional ketosis. I think the ketosis thing may be easier for higher metabolism males to sustain, but there is still benefit from lowering carbs. I’m wondering if the intermittent fasting may be a better option to access the keto benefits without having to sustain an unrealistically low level of daily carbs.

    • richardhg

      How are you measuring your ketones? If you are using urine strips, you should be aware that they measure a very narrow band of ketones, and only those ketones that contribute to ketoacidosis in diabetics.

      The bigger question is, how do you feel? Our brains love ketones. Our brains get anxious when they are energy-deprived.I like to use 50/50 coconut milk and water to make no-sugar-added hot chocolate to remedy low energy conditions for myself.

    • Kelly

      Have you heard of exogenous ketones? It will put you into ketosis in 1 hour with a single serving giving you al the therapeutic benefits of nutritional ketosis.

    • laughingwater

      Your size should not be a hindrance to your reaching ketosis. Speaking from personal experience, I am 5’1” and 105 pounds. I keep my carbs between 5 – 10 grams per day.
      I find it best for me not to go above 50 grams of protein per day. And I had to give up all dairy except butter. Once I made these adjustments, my progress was much faster. I’m not a technical sort, and I can’t give you numbers. I just go by how I feel, as well as my sleep patterns and circadian rhythms.

      As for intermittent fasting, I feel that any space between meals/snacks is an intermittent fast. I now try to go at least 4 hours between breakfast and my late lunch/early dinner. And I try to go at least 15 hours between my last meal and the next day’s breakfast.

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  • Steve Bergman

    “The study shows that the ketogenic diet has efficacy as a treatment for Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, depression, migraines, and many other illnesses that plague huge portions of our population”

    This is completely false. The study shows none of these things.

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  • Lee Powell

    Dr Perlmutter,
    What level of ketones do you need if you are eating this way to help Epilepsy control?

    • Kelly

      Research Keto/OS and it’s benefits for epilepsy and seizure control.

  • linda

    has anyone experienced brain fog and fatigue , fast pulse and thirsty. My blood sugar seems a little low 3.9 on my meter (canada) maybe this why?

  • linda

    i started the ketogenic diet a week ago and I though i’d feel more energy but perhaps my blood sugar is too low i’m not sure if this is normal

    • Kelly

      It could be that you never got into ketosis. Did you test? It typically takes some time to get into ketosis and you can easily get kicked out.

      I’ve been sharing a product that puts you into ketosis with a single serving in an hour, giving you all of the therapeutic benefits of nutritional ketosis.

  • linda

    I have a feeling i went overboard cutting out almost all carbs because I was following Jimmy Moore book and worried about not getting into Ketosis but now i just feel tired and a little foggy . I’ve been eating a lot of calories so I know this is not the problem. I just do not know what my blood sugar so be at and if his goes away after a while. I feel quite thirsty and there is a lot of salt in cheese, butter and sausages etc. so that is not the problem . Any experts on ketogenic diets

    • laughingwater

      Consider giving up all dairy except grass-fed butter. That’s what I recently did, and I’m noticing a positive difference.

      • Kelly

        Have you tried Keto/OS. It’s the first exogenous ketone that will get you into Ketosis with 1 serving in an hour. It’s still recommended that you follow a ketogenic lifestyle, but for the first time you can get into ketosis with glucose present.

        • laughingwater

          No, I haven’t tried the exogenous ketones. They might stimulate the production of ketones, but I question if they would make somebody a fat burner any faster.

          I recently realized I was eating too much protein, and I lowered it, to avoid gluconeogenesis. That has made a huge difference in me. I realize now I was experiencing blood sugar highs and lows from all that protein. In my effort to lower my carbs, I forgot about lowering my protein. Folks who feel tired a lot on the keto diet might be having too much protein. We really don’t need that much — about 50 grams for a small adult, and 75 grams for a large adult.

          • Kelly

            Keto/OS doesn’t actually stimulate ketones, it IS the ketones. Betahydroxybuterate, which is the main ingredient in the product, is the blood ketone that the liver produces through nutritional ketosis. Instead of having to wait days or weeks to get into ketosis (and feeling awful during that time), you only have to wait an hour, if that. It can be proven with a blood or urine test.
            The product will put you into ketosis for 2-6 hrs, giving you all of the therapeutic benefits w/o so strict of a diet. For those whose main goal is fat loss, we also recommend the diet side of things. Lowering protein is a suggestion I find myself making often when people are stalled! I’m so glad I Found this group b/c I have had hundreds of keto conversations where the person I was introducing to it didn’t know the first thing about ketosis.

          • laughingwater

            But does it enable the body to become a fat burner sooner? Or is it more of a crutch, so that one is only a fat burner when using it?

          • Kelly

            Yes.. Because achieving nutritional ketosis, as I’m sure you are well aware, is not easy and takes time.. On top of being easy to be kicked out of with minimal glucose/carbs.

            It’s not a clutch, it’s more of a bridge or a tool. You can burn fat the other hours of the day by following a ketogenic diet, but this helps big time by suppressing appetite, curbing cravings etc. and if you do get kicked out because of something you ate– you can be back into ketosis in 1 hr with a full serving..


          • laughingwater

            I can see where exogenous ketones would be very helpful for
            someone who doesn’t have the luxury of working from home and needs to be functional in a work setting. I went through a few weeks wondering if I’d ever get my energy back.

            Yet going through that rough time made me realize that:
            1. I had to give up all dairy (except butter), and
            2. I had to lower my protein.

            Had I been taking exogenous ketones, I might not have found that out, and I might still be doing the keto diet wrong.

            I am not particularly unique. I feel we must all learn what we naturally can and can’t tolerate.

            Now, if we’re traveling and our diet is thrown off or we’re quite stressed from time changes or whatever, I can see where a keto “bridge” would be helpful in rebalancing ourselves. And if one is working night shifts – maybe a keto bridge would help; I don’t really know.

            Also for those new to keto, a keto bridge would be helpful in getting started, although it’s not a substitute for a proper keto diet. As an analogy, let’s take learning to meditate as a goal. There are meditation aids that can intensify meditation and even psychic visions, the strongest being psychotropic drugs. I’ve never used them, because they’re illegal in this country. But from what I’ve read, they can be a bridge to help one reach the appropriate altered state(s) of consciousness. (I say “appropriate,” because there are many ASC, to include frenzied anger, which is inappropriate.) Some native shamans use psychotropic drug/plants to help their patients achieve ASC visions. But an authentic shaman does not need such drugs. They can reach ASC on their own.

            And so it is with ketosis. Some of us might need bridges at first.
            But with appropriate lifestyle adjustments, one can hopefully achieve and maintain nutritional ketosis on one’s own. And when there are unusually stressful conditions (be they stressful physically, mentally, emotionally, or chemically), a keto bridge might be appropriate, even for the keto “masters.”

            I am by no means a keto master, having been on the diet for a mere 2 months (actually 3, if you count the first month of eating cheese. And I dabbled on and off keto for 2 years prior). I am learning by trial and error, and by picking the brains of others.
            And yes, I do have opinions, but they aren’t written in stone.

            I too appreciate being able to have a good discussion on the
            keto lifestyle diet. I think I’m the only one in my city doing keto!

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  • Kelly

    I have found a great bridge to help get into ketosis and stay in ketosis — curbs cravings for carbs and sugars, etc. It gets you into ketosis in an hour with a single serving giving you all of the benefits of ketosis without the super duper strict diet. https://vimeo.com/157138164 I’d love to talk more about it and share the science behind it. JohnstoneK@msn.com

  • Cindy

    Can a ketogenic diet damage the liver or gal bladder

  • Graham Middleton

    I read the book, transferred to a Ketogenic diet and take all the daily supplements you recommend. My Cholesterol level has risen from 3 to 9, and my GP has put me back on Statins because I had a heart attack at 24 and had a recent procedure for Atrial Fibrillation. I am type 2 diabetic..I have ceased injecting Insulin, have stopped taking Warfarin and Bisoprolol…but my Doc. says I am in the 60% at risk bracket if I don’t take a Statin. Can you advise please? October 28th 2016

    • anon

      omg,. statins, … please read or listen to on CD, ‘the Great Cholesterol Myth’ writtenby 2 heart drs. … Cholesterol is not the enemy, inflammation is. Also, yes for some reason, cholesterol numbers do rise when on keto lifestyle about 6 months but will come down again… read the book, great explanation by cardiologists

  • Graham Middleton

    P.S The diet you prescribe is absolutely brilliant…the adipose is melting off me…I feel bouncier, my sugar levels are just bobbing above the acceptable level…but by comparison my GP is astonished! A mighty thank you, Sir.

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  • Paul Smith

    Have you had any benefits for ALS/MND patients? I have this and I’m following your advice hoping it helps. 😊

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