I had the pleasure of hearing Dominic D’Agostino, NASA crew member, researcher and Associate Professor at the University of South Florida present on “KetoNutrition: From Science to Emerging Applications and Practical Implementation” at the 6th BioCeuticals Research Symposium in Melbourne last weekend. His presentation was based on decades of evidence that supports the anticonvulsant and neuroprotective properties of nutritional ketosis. It was one of my favorite presentations and I’m thrilled to share some of the highlights with you here.
Ketones are alternative fuels and neuroprotective signaling metabolites – increasing longevity, lowering inflammation, dampening oxidative stress, lowering glutamate and raising GABA.
In this slide he shared how the proven applications of nutritional ketosis are extensive – including epilepsy, type 2 diabetes, weight loss, NAFLD, mitochondrial disease and inflammation, GLUTID Syndrome, PDH Deficiency, Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, Dravet Syndrome and Rett Syndrome.
There is emerging evidence for acne, PCOS, exercise performance, wound healing, longevity, cancer, CNS Oxygen Toxicity, autism, Angelman’s Syndrome, ALS, MS, Neuropathies, Alzheimer’s disease, brain injury, neurodegeneration, anxiety, depression, bipolar and schizoaffective disorder.
Seizures, cancer and the ketogenic diet
In his TEDx talk from 2013 Dr. D’Agostino shares the benefits of a ketogenic diet for seizures and how while studying the effects of gasses on the brains of Navy Seal divers, he developed an approach for metabolically starving cancer cells through diet and compressed oxygen, replacing chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation.
He ends by saying this:
Future treatments and prevention of many diseases may fall back on the ancient wisdom of Hippocrates when he said “let food be thy medicine”
As you can see from the applications slide above, much more research has been done on the therapeutic benefits of a ketogenic diet since this 2013 TEDx talk. And food truly is medicine!
In one of his studies, the first paper above, ketone supplementation was found to have an anti-anxiety effect – Exogenous Ketone Supplements Reduce Anxiety-Related Behavior in Sprague-Dawley and Wistar Albino Glaxo/Rijswijk Rats:
We conclude that ketone supplementation may represent a promising anxiolytic strategy through a novel means of inducing nutritional ketosis.
Adenosine and the adenosinergic mechanism
He shared a number of studies that describe how the anti-anxiety and anti-convulsant effects of ketone supplementation are mediated, in part, through the adenosinergic mechanism. This was one of his papers – Anxiolytic Effect of Exogenous Ketone Supplementation Is Abolished by Adenosine A1 Receptor Inhibition in Wistar Albino Glaxo/Rijswijk Rats.
Adenosine is a neurochemical which many coffee-drinkers may be familiar with since: “Caffeine increases wakefulness [and often anxiety] by antagonizing adenosine receptors, and adenosine itself promotes sleepiness” and a feeling of calm.
Older research finds that there is the “involvement of adenosinergic receptor system in anxiety related behaviours.” More recent research describes adenosine as “a mediator with multisystemic effects”, and it is produced by almost all cells, playing a role in heart function, sleep, bone health, activation of the immune system and mediating the effect of various hormones. I expect we’ll be hearing a great deal more about adenosine in relation to ketogenic diets in the near future.
The microbiomes of astronauts sync up and so do their serotonin levels
This was one of my favorite presentations at the BioCeuticals Symposium and it was really great to meet Dominic afterwards and learn more about future anxiety research. He shared that his lab has planned research on the benefits of ketosis for both anxiety and improved cognitive function.
It was also fascinating learning from someone who has been in space and hearing how the microbiomes of the astronauts sync up when they are all in space together. And so do their serotonin levels.
If the ketogenic diet is new for you or you want to see the latest research, check out Dominic’s work at Keto Nutrition. And if you want to learn more from Dominic and other keto experts, the Keto Edge Summit runs all of next week.
I also write about two schizoaffective case studies here and share questions and concerns I have about the ketogenic diet. It’s not a panacea for everyone in all instances. But the therapeutic benefits are profound when someone needs to adopt this dietary approach.
Feel free to ask questions and share you experiences with a ketogenic diet – in the comments below.