Science

How Can the Carnivore Diet Help Depression and Anxiety

9 months ago
How Can the Carnivore Diet Help Depression and Anxiety

According to a report published by the WHO, global depression was more than 18% between 2005 to 2015. Depression has become the 4th major illness in the world. Anxiety disorders are often under-recognized or misdiagnosed, leading to poor quality of life and social ability. 

Balanced nutrition plays an essential role in our behavior and thinking. Our food intake affects cognition, memory capacity, and emotions. This article will help you understand the role of a carnivore diet to treat mental health conditions and how the ketones produced in the carnivore diet can stabilize your mood. Although there are a few positive results from the research, we still lack clinical studies investigating the role of the carnivore diet on mental health. 

How Does The Carnivore Diet Help in Depression and Anxiety? 

Carnivore diet appears to affect the brain in several positive ways, such as:

1. Helps in Boosting Your ‘Feel Good’ Neurotransmitters

Carnivore diet leads to ketosis, it has been observed, and even the research suggests that ketosis increases the production of a common neurotransmitter in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is a naturally present amino acid that functions as a neurotransmitter in your brain. GABA gets attached to a protein in your brain, and it is known as GABA receptor; this produces a soothing and calming effect. It also helps to reduce feelings of anxiety, stress, and fear. It helps to prevent the risk of seizures. 

A few studies suggest that using a carnivore diet and the keto diet has helped treat seizure disorder; it was observed that a right balance of GABA leads to better mental focus, reduced stress, and depression. 

2. Helps to Improve the Mitochondrial Function

We all have known and studied that glucose is the primary source of energy. Glucose is essential for brain functioning. But, in a carnivore diet, the process of ketosis produces fuel for the body. Ketone bodies are formed in a carnivore diet from the fat, in which beta-hydroxybutyrate is used as an alternate fuel for the brain. 

Ketone bodies can be a more efficient fuel for the brain when compared to glucose. As the studies indicate, ketone bodies help to increase the energy factories such as mitochondria in brain cells, which increases energy levels in those cells. 

The carnivore diet is the best source for ketosis in your body and for high-energy levels in the brain cells. Energy deficiency is the primary cause of several neural disorders. Hence carnivore diet significantly helps in preventing mental disorders.

3. Helps to Decrease Oxidative Stress

The carnivore diet reduces oxidative stress and inflammation in your brain. Studies suggest that reduced inflammation in the brain is due to the enhanced energy levels caused by increased ketone bodies.

A carnivore diet helps lose weight, providing all essential nutrients, which in turn reduces oxidative stress. Ketosis and ketone bodies enhance brain cell energy with antioxidant-rich red meat. 

Experts suggest that a carnivore diet may help to treat seizures because of increased antioxidant levels. Carnivore diet enhances the production of Glutathione; it is one of the essential antioxidants produced by our body, which protects us from oxidative stress. 

4. Helps to Regulate Insulin Function. 

Insulin is a hormone that helps to manage your blood glucose levels. It plays a significant role in depression and mood swings. 

In a plant-based diet, people tend to eat fruits that are high in sugar, carbs, and refined starch, which leads to insulin resistance. It is a condition where your body cells do not respond to insulinInsulin resistance has been linked to depression, weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

However, following a carnivore diet helps eliminate or limit sugar levels in your diet. This keeps your blood glucose levels stable, leading to improved insulin sensitivity.

5. Helps to Decrease Inflammation

Chronic inflammation has also been linked to depression and anxiety. The reduced immune response will make you susceptible to many other problems such as an increase in insulin resistance, increase in oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and also GABA suppression. 

The carnivore diet leading to ketosis has some anti-inflammatory properties and is also said to improve chronic inflammation. This is due to ketones, which are used as fuel sources in a carnivore diet. Ketones also generate fewer pro-inflammatory compounds known as reactive oxygen species that help to reduce inflammation

A high-carb diet or sugar-heavy diet is known to increase the inflammation in your body. Inflammation is linked to depression; here are few studies which support it:

  • Studies suggest that people experience symptoms of depression and anxiety when administered with proinflammatory cytokines.
  • A study suggested that chronic inflammation due to different medical illnesses have also been linked to higher rates of depression.
  • One of the studies suggests that neuro-inflammation has led to the development of depression.  

The carnivore diet is a zero carb diet; it has no sugar or glucose in it. This reduces the inflammation in your body and improves your mental health.

6. Helps to Reduce Seizures

Depression is one of the common disorders reported worldwide. Also, people with epilepsy are more likely to suffer from depression. Epilepsy is a brain disease with frequent seizures.

Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder; around 70 million people worldwide have been affected. People with epilepsy go for medications and treatment. However, the cure rate is low, and 30% of the people will continue to have symptoms of epilepsy. 

Some studies have shown that the keto diet and carnivore diet have reduced seizures. Research has shown benefits especially in children, as there was a significant reduction in seizures with the carnivore diet, and few have also stated that it was completely reduced. 

Sometimes Carnivore Diet may Cause Temporary Depression

When we shift our diet, we generally encounter some changes in our body; it is the same with the carnivore diet too. When you change from a carb diet to a zero carb diet, you will encounter many variations in your body.

Carnivore diet can be challenging to adjust in the initial days; you may experience some early keto flu symptoms, such as weakness, tiredness, nausea, headache, and bowel problems. All these symptoms will end within 1-2 weeks after you start this diet. Some people might also experience a specific vitamin deficiency. These symptoms can be resolved by excess intake of fluids and electrolytes. You can also consume some nutritional supplements after consulting your doctor. 

Bottom Line

The carnivore diet shows positive results on mental health, and also, research suggests that the diet would help to benefit several mental disorders like depression, anxiety, and seizures. Although the studies suggest the benefits of the carnivore diet on your mood, we still lack clinical data to prove its mental health benefits.

Following the carnivore diet can be a great way to improve your mental health. Eating healthy and staying fit, both physically and mentally, is possible with the carnivore diet. 

Dr. Rashmi Byakodi is a health and wellness writer who aims to spread awareness about health through her words. With her medical background and a passion for writing, she has been creating health content on various platforms. Dr. Rashmi believes that with the right knowledge and a healthy lifestyle, we can combat many health issues, and she strives to spread the same through her blog posts. 

Find her on LinkedIn, Quora, and Pinterest.

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