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This diet may help repair damage from traumatic brain injury

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Manish Saini
Manish works as a Journalist and writer at Revyuh.com. He has studied Political Science and graduated from Delhi University. He is a Political engineer, fascinated by politics, and traditional businesses. He is also attached to many NGO's in the country and helping poor children to get the basic education. Email: Manish (at) revyuh (dot) com

There are currently no treatment options for those who have suffered such injuries, though the ketogenic diet has been used to treat children with epilepsy for nearly a century.

According to a new study by Tel Aviv University researchers, consuming a ketogenic diet may decrease the symptoms of brain damage in patients who have had Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI).

A ketogenic diet is one in which the bulk of calories are obtained from meals high in protein and fat. The diet contains very few carbs, which are normally converted down into glucose and used as the brain’s primary source of energy.

Consuming this type of food for an extended period of time simulates a state of fasting in the body, during which the liver utilizes both dietary fat and stored fat to make ketone bodies for energy and brain sustenance. The diet has become popular as a way to lose weight in recent years, but because it is so restrictive, it’s not recommended to start it without consulting a doctor first.

According to the university, TBI caused by events such as impact to the head from hard objects, accidents, and sports injuries is a primary cause of death and long-term impairment for millions of individuals globally each year.

TBI has the potential to harm regions of the brain that control physical, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional functioning, as well as raise the risk of neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Although the ketogenic diet has been used as a treatment for children with epilepsy for than 100 years, there are currently no treatment alternatives for those who have experienced such injuries.

Professor Chaim (Chagi) Pick and PhD student Meirav Har-Even Kerzher of TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine completed a peer-reviewed study on mice.

When compared to mice fed a standard diet, the study found, those fed a ketogenic diet showed benefits in spatial and visual memory, lower levels of brain inflammation and neuronal death, and lower rates of cellular aging.

Though some studies have suggested that the ketogenic diet has an antioxidant and metabolic effect on cell mitochondria, as well as reducing the production of free radicals and increasing Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a compound that provides energy to cells, the exact mechanism by which the ketogenic diet works on the brain has yet to be identified.

Professor Pick says the promise that these results may hold for future research, “The findings were unequivocal and showed that the ketogenic diet improves spatial memory and visual memory, lowers indices of inflammation in the brain and in addition, also slows the rate of cellular aging. These results may open the door to further research that will inspire hope for those suffering from traumatic brain injuries and their family members.”

Image Credit: Getty

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