A new study published by Psychiatry Research found individuals experiencing metabolic issues related to the treatment of their mental health disorder showed improvements after adopting a keto diet.

The small study involved 23 participants with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. The treatment plans for these mental illnesses can cause metabolic side effects that are difficult to reverse.`

According to the study, participants followed a keto diet, which included:

  • Not counting calories.
  • Macronutrient proportions of 10% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 60% fat.
  • Reduction of carbohydrate intake to 20 grams, unless it is fiber.
  • Eat one cup of vegetables per day.
  • Eat two cups of salad per day.
  • Drink eight glasses of water a day.

Researchers found that 79% of the participants showed improvement in psychiatric symptoms, which was believed to stem from stabilizing metabolic issues.

Furthermore, 19% of patients reported enhanced sleep quality and 17% reported increased life satisfaction, according to the study.

Researchers noted the limitations of the study, including the small sample size and short duration of the trial. They still believe the research will lead to new opportunities to discuss and research the relationship between mental health and metabolic health, the study said.

A comprehensive look at the keto diet rules with food lists and recipes

Does mental illness affect physical health?

According to WebMD, having poor mental health increases individuals’ risk of certain physical health conditions.

  • Depression has been linked to diabetes, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease and arthritis.
  • Schizophrenia has been linked to heart and respiratory diseases.
  • Mental health problems can lead to insomnia and sleep apnea.

Does improving physical health improve mental health?

Per a study published last year, exercising or being physically active is associated with:

  • Improvement of self-concept and body image.
  • Improvement of sleep.
  • A better mood.
  • Management of cravings for substances.
  • Improvement of psychiatric disorders.

The Mental Health Foundation notes that you don’t have to go to the gym to enjoy these benefits of exercise. You could also:

  • Do household chores.
  • Walk.
  • Bike.
  • Climb up stairs.
  • Carry heavy bags to another location.

How does diet affect mental illness?

According to Healthline, gut health is closely connected to brain health. As we eat certain foods, our gut bacteria can be affected positively or negatively, ultimately affecting our brain positively or negatively.

Per the American Society for Nutrition, improvement in diet, such as eating enough vitamins, minerals, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats, reduces inflammation and alters neurotransmitters that would affect mental health.

9 superfoods with physical and mental health benefits to incorporate in your 2024 diet