Ketogenic Diet: An Aid for Alcoholism?

Alcohol and the Ketogenic Diet

Nora Volkov’s research has revealed that the reward pathways in the brains of alcoholics are metabolically compromised, meaning they aren’t getting enough fuel from glucose.

When people drink alcohol, the liver converts it into acetate, which travels to the brain and fuels certain brain cells, particularly those in the reward pathways. Chronic alcoholics experience a chronic deprivation of energy in these cells.

To investigate whether changing this brain metabolic problem could affect clinical symptoms of alcoholism, Volkov and her team conducted a pilot randomized controlled trial.

They admitted alcoholics to a detox unit and divided them into two groups: one receiving a ketogenic diet and the other receiving a standard American diet.

The patients on the ketogenic diet required fewer benzodiazepines for detox, experienced fewer withdrawal symptoms, and reported reduced cravings for alcohol. Brain scans also showed improved brain metabolism and reduced neuroinflammation in key areas.

This study suggests that correcting brain metabolic defects caused by chronic alcohol use could potentially help people maintain sobriety. However, the guest cautioned that while the ketogenic diet may be beneficial for alcoholics, it could also lead to unintended consequences.

In a separate animal study, rats on a ketogenic diet exposed to the same amount of alcohol as rats on a standard diet experienced a five-fold increase in blood alcohol levels.

This finding highlights the importance of understanding how the ketogenic diet can alter alcohol metabolism.

Alcoholics who attempt to use the ketogenic diet as a tool for sobriety must be aware that if they relapse, they may be more sensitive to the effects of alcohol and should adjust their consumption accordingly.

The podcast also touched on the potential implications for non-alcoholics following a ketogenic diet.

While some may see the increased sensitivity to alcohol as a benefit, allowing them to consume less for the same effect, it is crucial to recognize the potential dangers.

Driving under the influence of alcohol while on a ketogenic diet could be particularly hazardous, as blood alcohol levels may be significantly higher than expected.

Other Posts from this Episode

Dr. Chris Palmer Links

Leave a Comment