Nicholas G. Norwitz, Shebani Sethi Dalai, and Christopher M. Palmer
Purpose of review:
Ketogenic diets, which have been used to treat drug-refractory paediatric epilepsy for over 100 years, are becoming increasingly popular for the treatment of other neurological conditions, including mental illnesses. We aim to explain how ketogenic diets can improve mental illness biopathology and review the recent clinical literature.
Psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder and binge eating disorder, are neurometabolic diseases that share several common mechanistic biopathologies. These include glucose hypometabolism, neurotransmitter imbalances, oxidative stress and inflammation. There is strong evidence that ketogenic diets can address these four fundamental diseases, and now complementary clinical evidence that ketogenic diets can improve the patients’ symptoms.
It is important that researchers and clinicians are made aware of the trajectory of the evidence for the implementation of ketogenic diets in mental illnesses, as such a metabolic intervention provides not only a novel form of symptomatic treatment, but one that may be able to directly address the underlying disease mechanisms and, in so doing, also treat burdensome comorbidities (see Video, Supplementary Digital Content 1, http://links.lww.com/COE/A16, which summarizes the contents of this review).