The Keto Diet and TBIs

Many of the big-name, headline-grabbing diets tend to burn up like a meteorite; they’re flashy and bright, and then fade away. However there are some diets that as they’re studied, manage to supersede the temporary nature of so-called “fad diets.” The ketogenic diet is one such diet. It began as a solution for children, and now it’s being explored for other benefits beyond weight loss.

The keto diet, as it’s abbreviated, is best known today for being a weight-loss diet. To put it simply, it triggers weight loss by decimating carbohydrate intake. The body uses glucose, or blood sugar, as the primary source of energy. However, during a process that is called ketosis, chemicals made in the liver called ketones are sent into the bloodstream for energy. This shifts the body’s energy from being dependent on sugar to being dependent on fat. 

Initially the keto diet was discovered and implemented as a way to curtail rampant seizures in children, which is how it’s largely been used for nearly 100 years. A 2012 Italian study first introduced the weight-loss effects of keto. Now, a 2021 study implies that the keto diet can be impactful for traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients as well. Though there’s still more to learn from the study, the professor who led it said that, “the findings were unequivocal and showed that the ketogenic diet improves spatial memory and visual memory, lowers indices of inflammation in the brain and in addition, also slows the rate of cellular aging.” Spatial memory refers to how the brain stores and retrieves information that’s required to do things such as directions and remembering the location of an object or where an event took place. It’s well-known that a TBI can impact a person’s memory, including spatial memory. 

As this study continues to unfold, it has the potential to significantly impact TBI care. There’s still much to learn about TBIs and how to treat them, due to their variety and widespread potential effects throughout the body. The keto diet might just be another piece of the puzzle.

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Posted on February 7 2022 in Blog

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