Yesterday I posted about some of the other reasons why a keto lifestyle is a good choice for many people, besides just to lose weight. But, I wanted to talk a little bit about a part of medicine that has become very sloppy. Not sloppy, because practitioners aren’t doing a good job, but sloppy in that availability of services is not all it should be, nor are coverages adequate. I am talking about mental health.
So, there are a large number of overweight people, for which, a contributing factor and vicious cycle is anxiety and depression. Those of us who suffer from either or both of these ailments, often self medicate with food. Why food? Because, we call them “comfort” foods for a reason. Foods can release endorphins and other hormones, that improve our mood. Well, at least temporarily. Then the self-recriminations start because most comfort foods are carb loaded, which may lead to more weight gain, worse self image, more anxiety, and increased depression. So, then when we feel badly enough we again self-medicate and get that temporary “high” from the carbs. The cycle is extremely difficult to break with only willpower on your side.
I have not heard of many programs in the mental health field that begin by addressing nutrition. They may advise you not to turn to food, and suggest alternative ways to avoid that pitfall. But, learning about how food affects our mental health is typically not part of the conversation.
Did you know that there is evidence that supports the fact that a ketogenic lifestyle can help with both depression and anxiety (okay, more disclaimers time: don’t ever stop a mental health medication, without the advice and guidance of a healthcare professional. Some, when stopped suddenly, can even cause people to become suicidal, and must be weaned off). So, why does keto help with anxiety and depression, you ask?
Our brain function is influenced by a neurotransmitter called GABA. People with low levels of GABA often experience increased anxiety and depression. I am not going to delve deeply into the neuroscience of how the GABA mechanism in the brain works, because even if I did, the studies haven’t been done that have nailed down the mechanism of exactly how ketogenic diets affect the GABA mechanisms in the brain. But, what we do know, is that GABA levels in the brain and spinal fluid are often increased with a ketogenic lifestyle. This is a nueroprotective state that allows the brain to stabilize (also part of the mechanism for seizure control with keto diet).
The point I am getting at, is that the digestive system and the nutrients absorbed, discarded, or stored affect every other system in the body, including our brains. So, doesn’t just make sense to start with the things you can change, such as what you put into the digestive system? Even if a keto lifestyle doesn’t “cure” your anxiety or depression, why not put your body in the best state possible, to help the medications you may need to take, work to the best advantage? Good health is more than the body not being in a diseased state. Good health is also a sense of well-being. So, even the most fit body out there, needs to be in a state of wellness physically and mentally, to be in truly “good” health.
I hope that if you struggle with anxiety and depression or any other mental health condition (as long as you don’t have a physical reason why you shouldn’t) you will give keto a chance. I have seen what anxiety and depression can do to individuals and those who care about them, so if this post helps even one person, it was worth the time it took me to share, my little bit of knowledge.
My take away from over 20 years in the healthcare industry is that we need to take control and responsibility for our own health. This means gathering as much information as you can, then making the best decision you can for yourself. Maybe, keto is the right choice for you.
As I step gingerly off my soapbox (sorry, sometimes just can’t help myself. I am very passionate about helping others). I will post the Sloppy Joe recipe that I use. I use the Keto Hamburger Bun recipe also on this site, but you can use any type of keto bread that you wanted to.
Keto Sloppy Joe's
- 1 lbs ground beef
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 1/4 cup sweet peppers chopped
- 1 Tbsp garlic minced
- 1/2 Tbsp thyme fresh or dried
- 1 Tbsp oregano fresh or dried
- 1 Tbsp basil fresh or dried
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 cup fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 Tbsp brown mustard
- 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- salt and pepper to taste
In a skillet brown, ground beef, onions, garlic and peppers.
Once meat is mostly browned add fresh or dried herbs and spices.
Once meat is completely browned add tomatoes, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, and water and bring up to a simmer.
Sprinkle xanthan gum on top and then mix in and allow to simmer until slightly thickened. Serve over favorite keto bread, or keto hamburger buns
Total macros include 1 whole keto hamburger bun.
total fat 50.4 g
net carbs 8.8 g
protein 28.6 g
Keto Hamburger Buns
Based on recipe found in the cookbook: Everyday Ketogenic Kitchen
- 4 ounces of cream cheese
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 Tablespoon club soda or carbonated water
- 2/3 cup whey protein powder
- 1/3 nut or sunflower seed flour
- 1 scoop MCT powder optional
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion or garlic powder
- 2 eggs
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 3 English muffin rings on a cookie sheet covered with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
Heat butter and cream cheese in a microwave safe dish, in the microwave until well softened but not liquid (between 15-30 seconds).
Add in all the other ingredients adding eggs last.
Mix well until consistency of thick pancake batter
Divide batter equally between the 3 English muffin rings. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top (if you are using).
Bake 15-18 mins. or until golden and slightly springy in the center.
Let cool about 5 mins before slicing
Total fat (grams) 30.4
Net carbs (grams) 5.3
protein (grams) 21.3