DO KETONES BOOST BRAIN FUNCTION?
Posted on March 27 2020
In a fast-paced world, everyone is looking for an edge both physically and mentally. Your brain is at the epicenter of it all. It controls your cognitive aptitude, so it stands to reason that if we can boost your brain function we can improve your overall performance. NASA and the DOD (Department of Defense) certainly seem to think so!!
Recently the Keto Diet has been examined by scientists, not just for aiding weight management and diabetes, but for mental enhancement, reducing cognitive decline and improving mental and physical performance and reducing inflammation. In fact, Exogenous (supplemental) Ketones like Beta Hydroxybutyrate (BHB) have been at the forefront of that research with NASA and Navy Seal teams.
What they have discovered may surprise you and have you racing out to your nearest supplement shop for a healthy dose of Exogenous Ketones.
UNDERSTANDING EXOGENOUS KETONES
Before we begin you need to understand what Exogenous Ketones are. Simply put they are Ketones that come from a supplement. The term 'Exogenous' is normally used scientifically to signify a compound that stems from outside the body.
Note: Ketones (like BHB) are not to be confused with Raspberry Ketones that do nothing for brain function, weight loss or performance.
Ketones act as an alternative energy source in the absence of carbohydrates. They signal different processes in your body to increase energy, particularly in your mitochondria. The mitochondria are found inside your cells and are where the magic happens. You create energy (from fat) for your cells to survive and even thrive inside the mitochondria. The more energy your mitochondria can produce, the healthier and longer your cells will live, and the more fat you will burn.
That’s right… healthy mitochondria create long lasting healthy cells which reduces the rate of age related decline. Ketones enhance mitochondrial biogenesis and mitochondrial efficiency. This means that Exogenous Ketones signal an increased number of mitochondria, and create an improved ability to burn fat for fuel.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FEEDING YOUR BRAIN PROPERLY
Like any other organ in your body, your brain requires energy to function. Your brain cells get this energy from the mitochondria. The more efficient your mitochondria are, the more energy your brain has available to complete its daily tasks.
From basic decision making to career-altering choices, these are all determined by the exact same thing - your brain. When your brain isn't efficiently fed due to lack of healthy mitochondria then everything suffers. Cognition declines, performance dwindles, and tiredness sets in.
So how do we keep our brain nourished and in peak performance? Well NASA seems to think Exogenous Ketones are part of the answer.
HOW WILL KETONES BOOST YOUR BRAIN?
For centuries, it was believed that your brain needed just glucose (sugar) to run optimally. However, findings now show that our brain, like our skeletal muscles, can become insulin resistant. In other words, your brain fails to utilise sugar (glucose) well and as a result can’t produce enough energy to support healthy cells. This can cause serious cognitive decline, in fact Alzheimer’s is now being referred to as Type 3 diabetes.
Ketones completely bypass this glucose transport system. They provide the mitochondria (of your brain cells) with an alternative and arguably preferred energy source that significantly enhances brain function, while reducing cognitive decline.
In addition to this, Exogenous Ketones increase BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor). BDNF has been shown to improve neurogenesis (neuron development) and neural plasticity (neuron communication). In short, you may be able to process information faster and retain it for longer. Cool huh!
A natural part of the aging process is neurodegeneration (loss of neuronal integrity or function). This makes the brain more prone to ailments such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, or just plain forgetfulness.
Recent research suggests that using an Exogenous Ketone supplements can considerably slow neurodegeneration and improve cognitive function.[i]
Oncologist Dr. Mary Newport has been leading research in this area. After dealing with a life-changing situation when her husband (Steve) was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Dr. Newport began to focus on Steve's nutrition as a means of improving his health.
She moved Steve’s diet to a higher fat plan (particularly from MCT’s which convert to Ketones) and reduced his carbohydrates. Steve began to display striking cognitive improvements. Dr Newport firmly believes that this was a result of a ketogenic diet plan and its intrinsic brain-enhancing advantages which she writes about in her book Alzheimer’s Disease – What if there was a Cure: the story of Ketones.
Thanks in part to her findings, studies are now growing on the impact of Exogenous Ketones as a supplement for preventing conditions like dementia, epilepsy, and Alzheimer's disease.
Even if you're not following a ketogenic diet plan, Exogenous Ketones are still a terrific brain-enhancing supplement which may reduce cognitive decline, improve brain power and reduce brain fog. Studies suggest utilising a minimum of 10 grams of BHB Ketones daily for maximum results.
KEY TAKE-HOME POINTS
- Your brain is your most complex and powerful organ; it needs specific nutrients (especially fats and Ketones) to function efficiently.
- Exogenous Ketones appear to improve cognitive function through a variety of mechanisms, including reduced inflammation, improved energy and enhanced mitochondrial function.
- Ketones may slow the aging process and minimize neurodegeneration, which in turn can lower the risk of developing conditions like Alzheimer's, Parkinson’s and dementia.
- Ketones alone or when teamed with a ketogenic or IF (Intermittent Feasting) diet plan makes for an outstanding brain-enhancing protocol.
Disclaimer: The above article is merely a guide and is in no way a recommendation or a treatment protocol for any health conditions or diseases. You should always consult with a qualified health care provider before changing your supplement, training or nutritional strategy. Supplementation should not be attempted by pregnant or breastfeeding women, anyone on prescription medication or children under the age of 15 unless advised by your qualified health care provider.
[i] Hertz, L., Chen, Y., & Waagepetersen, H. S. (2015). Effects of ketone bodies in Alzheimer's disease in relation to neural hypometabolism, β‐amyloid toxicity, and astrocyte function. Journal of neurochemistry, 134(1), 7-20.
[ii] Zhou, W., Mukherjee, P., Kiebish, M. A., Markis, W. T., Mantis, J. G., & Seyfried, T. N. (2007). The calorically restricted ketogenic diet, an effective alternative therapy for malignant brain cancer. Nutrition & metabolism, 4(1), 5.
[iii] Poff, A. M., Ari, C., Arnold, P., Seyfried, T. N., & D'Agostino, D. P. (2014). Ketone supplementation decreases tumor cell viability and prolongs survival of mice with metastatic cancer. International journal of cancer, 135(7), 1711-1720.