New research from Tel Aviv University shows that a ketogenic diet may minimize the consequences of traumatic brain injury.
The diet improves spatial and visual memory, reduces brain inflammation, reduces neuronal death, and delays cellular aging, according to the study led by Prof. Chaim (Chagi) Pick, Director of the Sylvan Adams Sports Institute and member of the Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University, and Ph.D. student Meirav Har-Even Kerzhner, a licensed dietician and brain researcher.
The findings were reported in Scientific Reports, a syndicate journal from the publishers of Nature.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a prominent cause of death and long-term disability in developed countries. Every year, about 10 million people experience traumatic brain injuries caused by hard items, road accidents, blows, explosions, sports injuries, etc.
This type of trauma damages the brain and can increase the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Despite the high frequency of brain injuries, there is currently no proven effective treatment.
According to Ph.D. Har-Even Kerzhner, a ketogenic diet is based on high-fat percentages and mimics a condition of fasting. As part of the diet, high-carbohydrate foods such as bread, sugar, grains, legumes, snacks, pastries and even fruits, are prohibited while high-fat foods including meat, fish, eggs, avocado, and butter, are consumed. This is a long-term diet.
The diet increases the creation of ketone bodies in the liver, which provides energy. These ketone bodies are sent to the brain via the bloodstream, nourishing it. The ketogenic diet has recently become trendy among individuals looking to lose weight. Due to the severe dietary limitations, it is advised to see a doctor or qualified nutritionist.
According to a study on model animals, the ketogenic diet enhances brain function in patients. The researchers used advanced methodologies like behavioral-cognitive assessments, biochemical tests, and immunohistochemistry cell labeling (a technique in biology for the detection and placement of proteins in a cross-section of tissue).
The ketogenic diet appears to have an antioxidant and metabolic effect on mitochondria (essential organelles in the cell whose primary function is energy production and respiration), lowering free radical production and raising ATP (a major molecule in cellular biochemical channels).
Prof. Pick: “The results were unequivocal and demonstrated that the ketogenic diet improves spatial and visual memory, reduces brain inflammation, and delays cellular aging.”