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A Diet that Calms the Schizophrenic Mind

Credit: tankist276/adobe

The ketogenic diet is preferred by bodybuilders who need a high energy intake that doesn’t promote the conversion of fat from excess carbohydrates. Credit: tankist276/adobe

By Zoltán Sarnyai

The ketogenic diet favoured by bodybuilders also normalises schizophrenia-like behaviours.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Schizophrenia has long been treated, with limited success, with drugs that block the brain neurotransmitter dopamine. Pharmaceutical companies have spent billions of dollars developing yet another drug with a slightly different mechanism of action to also block dopamine transmission.

Is it possible that a dietary intervention can help people suffering from this devastating mental illness, or is this idea no better than the fad diets promoted in the pages of celebrity gossip magazines?

Our research found that the ketogenic diet, which is very high in fat and extremely low in carbohydrates, effectively normalised a wide range of schizophrenia-like behaviours in a well-established mouse model of the disorder.

What does this diet do that makes the symptoms disappear? Is this approach safely translatable to humans?

I think it is translatable, and there is some fascinating new science behind it as well.

Beyond Dopamine

I was in the middle of my psychiatry rotation in the last year of medical school when my brother told me of the strange, highly disturbing behaviour of his classmate. “He locks himself in his room, closes the curtains and the shutters on the window. He does not talk to his mother and has not been taking much food for a week in the fear of being poisoned. When he does talk he is talking nonsense about some voices he...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.