The ketogenic diet is high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbohydrates. Ketogenic diets cause the body to produce ketones, which are used as an alternative fuel when blood sugar levels are low. Ketones are produced in the liver from fat, making the ketogenic diet a popular approach to weight loss.
There is also evidence that the keto diet can help treat serious mental health conditions. A new clinical trial from James Cook University in Australia will undertake clinical trials to determine whether a high-fat, low-carb diet could be used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
“How ketogenic therapy works is to provide alternative energy sources in the form of so-called ketone bodies (products of fat breakdown) and by helping to bypass abnormally functioning cellular energy pathways in these mental disorders,”said Associate Professor Carlo Longhitano, chief of psychiatry at JCU and co-investigator of the study.
He added that only well-designed and controlled clinical trials such as those currently underway can draw conclusions that support evidence-based medicine. “Without them, it’s just anecdotes and hearsay,”said Dr. Longhitano.
Andy Welch, CEO of Keeto Life, which sells products to more than 250,000 consumers in 15 countries, pointed to the broader, positive effects of healthy eating on mental well-being, but remains excited about the potential of keto diets to address many diverse issues, including mental health.
“Generally, today’s Western diets lack many of the nutrients needed to nourish the body and take care of our precious organs – especially our brains,”he told FoodNavigator. “Introduce a keto diet, or a low carb lifestyle as I like to call it, and you essentially give up many of the highly processed carbs and sugars that dominate western life. An appreciation for healthy foods like leafy greens and the essential nutrients they offer, like superior brain health, is at the heart of keto thinking—how to help your body perform at its peak.
“In the case of leafy greens, your brain gets what it needs nutritiously, works better, and therefore, so do you. By maximizing your potential to enjoy even the smallest experience, you promote your mental well-being.
Another way to think about low-carb is to avoid “bloating,” he said, adding that a low-carb lifestyle avoids or minimizes access to these debilitating foods. “If you feel better about your body, your mind has an indirect drive to feel better too. And these are just generic benefits for the body – there are studies of Keto as a dietary intervention for rheumatoid arthritis providing anti-inflammatory benefits that allow patients to experience significantly reduced pain.The less pain you experience, the more likely you are to feel mentally robust.
EY Global Consumer Senior Analyst Jon Copestake, however, cautioned the food industry against throwing too much weight behind the keto movement.
“I have a challenge with popular diets as being considered trend setting. I still remember the excitement of the Atkins diet, the California beach diet and going back to other supplemental diets like slimfast »,he told FoodNavigator. “Diets like Keto and Paleo are likely to follow in the path of all the diets that have come before them, fading away when the next big thing comes along, but leaving a residual element of utility in the way consumers eat.”
But he added that consumers are increasingly aware of turning to food to improve their mood. “What diets indicate more broadly is an appetite to use diets not to define weight loss, which has always been the goal, but also to improve physical and mental well-being,”he told us. “Skin health, brain health, sleep and relaxation are becoming just as important drivers of diet as weight loss, reflecting a pretty fundamental shift in how consumers view their relationship with foods. diets.
He added that it’s a challenge for brands to respond to trends that can be “transitional and potentially contradictory”.
“The number of fasting programs continues to grow, which completely excludes brands from the mix. Some diets push people towards veganism, others focus on protein and iron resulting in a much more red meat-based consumption,”he explained.
“From a brand perspective, the answer is threefold. One is focused on reformulation. Increasing the turmeric, kale, beetroot, legumes, and omega-3 content in the ready meals they sell to tap into a trend without completely falling into a fad that could change tomorrow. A second is to launch supplements that specifically promote a trend – this is where the beverage industry is leading and the food industry is following – nootropics, adaptogens, CBD, microbiome, probiotics, fermented products Raw all started out as mood-enhancing drinks and bleed into food through supplements…which are increasingly being sold as gummies.
“More recently, the power of mushrooms seems to be getting more prominent with mushroom gummies being considered the new mood booster due to their high nootropic and adaptogenic qualities rather than due to their psychedelic properties.”
He recommended brands take a “general approach to health”. “Continuing on the same path of reducing unhealthy ingredients and increasing vegetable content, increasing legumes and green ingredients – these don’t cater to specific health fads, but cling to the longer-term underlying trend and point to the fact that most dietitians generally see a healthy and balanced diets for better physical and mental well-being.
He also suggested that food brands continue to take inspiration from evolving trends in the beverage industry.
“Generally, it’s much easier for beverage brands to be nimble here and they’ve done that,”he specified. “Mood-enhancing and mental well-being beverages have gone from virtually nowhere a decade ago to almost ubiquitous today. From a dietary perspective, it’s all about tapping into the right trend and Food companies are increasingly using AI to browse and analyze food trends via social media thanks to young consumers’ predilection for posting a photo of every meal they have. of what’s trending, you have a choice of incorporating emerging ingredients or food trends into your existing product formulation or creating new lines to fit them in. The really interesting thing I’ve noticed is that, while While beverage companies adapt their portfolio to all the food trends they can, food companies are much slower – they take a wait-and-see approach and o nt many food safety and other regulations to consider. If you look at the assortment of “diet” ready meals in any supermarket today, you will always find them dominated by calorie-controlled foods rather than foods that promote energy levels or brain power.
For more on Food and Mood, listen to the FoodNavigator podcast, available October 19
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