How Your Keto Diet is Making You Depressed

Ketogenic diets have become increasingly popular these days, thanks to seemingly endless claims that it will help you lose weight. Before you jump on the bandwagon to eat the low carb and high fat diet, you might want to weigh in on the most recent research about eating high amounts of palmitic acid, which is a key component in keto diets.

In a new animal study published in the medical journal Translational Psychiatry, researchers found that a high fat diet, which is common in ketogenic diets as well as the Standard American Diet (SAD), caused depression. Upon further exploration, the researchers found that excessive amounts of palmitic acid in the diet can cause depression and reduce mental health.

Palmitic acid is a type of saturated fat primarily found in palm oil, palm kernel oil, butter, cheese, milk, margarine and meat, all of which are common in most people’s diets. It may actually be wrecking your mental health, not just your waistline. Palmitic acid is also found in most packaged and prepared foods, as well as fast foods and most restaurant food.

The researchers found that the fat actually accumulated in the brains of people who eat high levels of palmitic acid. They found that it congregated in the hypothalamus region, a part of the brain that regulates the release of brain hormones into the bloodstream, affecting mood and mental health.

While the study focused on the effects of the fat on the brain, the fat may also be throwing off the gut’s delicate microbial balance. According to another study in the field of the gut-brain axis and its role in depression, published in the medical journal, Nature Microbiology, certain bacteria and the substances they produce in the gut, are to blame for depression. And, it is well-established that meat and dairy products increase the gut’s inflammatory bacteria.

In addition to reducing your consumption of foods containing palm oil, palm kernel oil, butter, cheese, milk and meat, you’ll also want to ramp up your consumption of healthy fats that help reduce inflammation in the body and brain and help heal depression.

Essential fatty acids known as Omega 3s, or Omega 3 fatty acids, are necessary to treat depression as they are required to create healthy brain cells and are also involved in regulating neurotransmitters—the brain hormones that balance mood. While there are many hormones linked to regulating mood, essential fatty acids are needed for two of the main mood-regulating hormones: serotonin and oxytocin.

Ground flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, hempseeds and hempseed oil, walnuts and walnut oil are good source of essential fatty acids. Two tablespoons daily of flax oil or hempseed or walnut oil daily can be helpful if you’re suffering from depression. You can drizzle this oil over baked sweet potatoes or vegetables, organic popcorn or blend some into smoothies.

Vitamin D, which is a fat-soluble vitamin that more closely resembles a hormone, is also an important addition to your diet if you suffer from depression or mental health issue. While small amounts of vitamin D can be obtained from the sun, it is also valuable to get more foods rich in this vitamin.

Wild salmon, as well as other fatty fish like mackerel and tuna (although the latter is often contaminated with mercury) are excellent sources. A typical 3.5 ounce (100 grams) serving of wild salmon contains 988 IU of vitamin D. Fatty fish has been recently found to play a role in the number of depressive symptoms experienced. Typically, the lower the levels of vitamin D, the more likely people are to experience symptoms of depression.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM shares her food growing, cooking, preserving, and other food self-sufficiency adventures at She is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life. Follow her work.



Paul Lundbohm
Paul Lundbohm10 days ago

The first study was on genetically altered obese mice fed rat chow high in sugar showing NO causation against healthy humans eating human food and practicing a keto lifestyle. The second study had nothing to do with ketogenics AT ALL,

Ganaisha Calvin
Ganaisha Calvin11 days ago

Every restrictive diet has its drawbacks which should be weighed heavily before getting into

Leopold Marek
Leopold Marek12 days ago


Leopold Marek
Leopold Marek12 days ago


hELEN hEARFIELD12 days ago


Lizzy O
Lizzy Q12 days ago

many thanks.

Leo C
Leo Custer12 days ago

Thank you for posting!

no M
no M12 days ago

Flaxseed and walnuts contain ALA which the body very poorly converts to Omega-3. Consider algae as a vegetarian source of Omega-3 (although problems can exist with contamination). As always, do your homework.

Since evolution has engineered human beings to be vegetarians (our teeth and intestines prove this beyond any shadow of a doubt), a vegetarian diet is recommended for weight loss and health.

Teresa W
Teresa W12 days ago

thank you

Christine Stewart

Ketones are your body's way of feeding your brain before you die of untreated diabetes! So I think anyone on a veto diet is looking for trouble, if they are not very careful...