Neurological Function– A ketogenic diet may be neuroprotective since it increases energy production in the brain, limits the production of free radicals, limits neuronal excitability and increases production of GABA in the brain.27 28 Researchers have hypothesized that a ketogenic diet and, in particular, ketones might benefit neurological function in several conditions and situations, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Friedreich’s ataxia, autism and traumatic brain injury. 29 30 In Alzheimer’s disease, it appears that brain cells become unable to use glucose for energy production; a ketogenic diet can provide an alternative fuel for the brain. 31 Several studies have found that giving patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fat that is readily accessible for ketone formation, improves cognition, but the effects are more pronounced in those that do not carry the APOE e4 gene variant that is associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s.32 33 34 Research is just beginning to explore these conditions, and a better understanding of how effective the ketogenic diet is in treating certain neurological conditions will likely be available in the near future.
The authors defined a VLCKD as a diet lower in 50g of carbohydrates – lower than the daily recommended grams of carb consumption clinicians recommend to diabetics. They included 13 randomized controlled studies with a total of 1,415 subjects. All studies took place for at least a full year and all subjects included were over 18 years old and had a BMI of at least 27.5 kg/m2. In each of these studies, VLCKD diets were compared to low-fat diets.
Also, consider supplementing with the amino acid leucine, as it can be broken down directly into acetyl-CoA, making it one of the most important ketogenic amino acids in the body. While most other amino acids are converted into glucose, the acetyl-CoA formed from leucine can be used to make ketone bodies. It’s also present in keto friendly foods like eggs and cottage cheese.