High Fat, Low Carb Diet Could Treat Schizophrenia

CC BY-NC by malias

A new study claims that a diet rich in fat but low in carb could be effective in treating schizophrenia, a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder.

Often favoured by bodybuilders, the fat-rich but low-carb diet could alleviate the rare type of mental illness schizophrenia that affects nearly 1 percent of worldwide population.

Schizophrenia is a complex and often chronic medical condition which tends to be a lifelong mental illness, hence requires lifelong medication and psychotherapy.

People suffering from schizophrenia behave oddly, see things that aren’t there, experience delusions, and in severe cases unable to perform routine tasks normally, and tend to be at risk of developing illnesses such as weight gain and cardiovascular disease.

Unfortunately, there’s no cure and medications used to alleviate this chronic mental disorder. However, a new research now suggests that a ketogenic diet, which is high in fat and low in carbohydrates, could protect against Schizophrenia.

Ketogenic diet, including high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate, has long been recommended to control seizures in children with epilepsy, and more recently became a trend among obese or overweight people looking for quick and substantial weight loss, and among bodybuilders trying to gain a substantial amount of muscle mass.

In Australia, researchers carried out a trial on rodents to examine the effectiveness of ketogenic diet in treating the schizophrenia. The researchers fed the mice a ketogenic diet, loaded with fat but less carbohydrates (sugars), and observed that consuming this type of diet led the rodents to exhibiting fewer behaviours that are similar to schizophrenia. The mice on ketogenic diet also weighed less and had lower blood glucose levels than those on a normal diet.

The diet may work by forcing the body to break down fat for energy, instead of sugar and providing alternative energy sources, explains one of the researchers Zoltan Sarnyai from James Cook University in Queensland, Australia.

“Most of a person’s energy would come from fat. So the diet would consist of butter, cheese, salmon, etc. Initially it would be used in addition to medication in an in-patient setting where the patient’s diet could be controlled,” Sarnyai explained.

The findings were published online in the journal Schizophrenia Research