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Exploring the Potential of Ketogenic Diets for Depression and Anxiety: A Comprehensive Review

In her lecture in Nutrition Network’s latest course, Metabolism and the Mind, launching on 26 June, Dr Lori Calabrese provides a comprehensive review exploring the potential of ketogenic diets for depression and anxiety.

In recent years, there has been growing interest in the potential therapeutic effects of ketogenic diets for mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Research has delved into the mechanistic benefits of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), the primary ketone body produced during ketosis, in addressing neurometabolic aspects of these disorders.

Authoritative sources like Al-Onaizi et al. (2024) have highlighted the impact of BHB on reducing reactive oxygen species, increasing neurotransmitter production, and providing neuroprotective qualities. Studies, such as those by Danan et al. (2022) and Needham et al. (2023), have shown promising results in improving depressive symptoms with the implementation of a ketogenic diet, particularly in treatment-resistant cases.

Clinical trials, including “Keto Mood” and “KetoMDD,” are at the forefront of investigating the safety, feasibility, and potential efficacy of ketogenic diets in managing depression. These trials emphasize the importance of measuring key biomarkers like Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) and analyzing the diet’s impact on various outcomes, such as cytokines and metabolomics.

On the front of anxiety disorders, murine studies have indicated a potential reduction in anxiety behaviors with exogenous ketones, as discussed by scholars like Dom D’Agostino. Clinical reports and case studies, such as the work by Calabrese et al. (2022), have also suggested positive outcomes in anxiety symptoms across different disorders with the utilization of ketogenic diets.

While the research shows promising results, challenges remain. The field lacks standardized protocols, consistent ketone measurement, and large-scale randomized controlled trials. Current clinical trials, like the “DIME study” and the “KIND study,” aim to address these limitations by rigorously evaluating the impact of ketogenic diets on mental health conditions.

In summary, the emerging evidence underscores the potential of ketogenic diets as adjunctive or alternative treatments for depression and anxiety. Further well-designed studies are crucial to establish clear guidelines for the clinical application of these dietary interventions in mental health care.


  • Al-Onaizi et al. (2024)
  • Danan et al. (2022)
  • Needham et al. (2023)
  • Calabrese et al. (2022)

By delving deeper into the intersection of nutrition and mental health, researchers and clinicians strive to unlock the transformative potential of ketogenic diets in reshaping the landscape of mental health treatment.

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