The best diet for preserving your brain

Brain inflammation. It’s a serious problem that contributes to pretty much every neurological disorder…

Epilepsy, dementia, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, depression, suicide — they’re all tied to an inflamed brain.

The question is, how do you prevent inflammation in what is arguably your body’s most important organ?

Well, if you’re serious about stopping brain inflammation before it turns into a life-threatening disease, then you have to get serious about your diet…

And there’s one particular diet that can keep your brain healthy and inflammation-free…

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Keto cuts brain inflammation

You’ve probably heard a lot about the ketogenic diet lately. It’s having a major moment, with celebrities like Halle Berry, Megan Fox and Mick Jagger swearing by its anti-aging, weight loss and health-giving powers.

And science shows the ketogenic diet does have a lot of benefits. But perhaps its best benefit is cooling disease-causing inflammation in your brain…

A recent study from the University of California- San Francisco found that the ketogenic diet switches off inflammatory genes and has an anti-inflammatory effect on your body and brain.

Previous studies show that the keto diet tames inflammation in rats, but this time around researchers figured out the exact mechanism that makes a keto diet so dang anti-inflammatory…

In case you don’t know, the keto diet requires that you significantly reduce carbs in your diet and replace them with fats. By doing this, you put your body into a metabolic state called ketosis, where it begins fueling itself on ketones (derived from fat) instead of glucose (derived from carbs).

Basically, by stopping your body from turning to glucose for energy, researchers in this latest study found that the keto diet activates a protein that suppresses inflammatory genes.

In the study, researchers tried to mimic the keto diet by activating this protein and suppressing these inflammatory genes using a compound they eventually hope to turn into a drug. They want to make it possible for people to experience the benefits of the keto diet without actually having to follow it… because the keto diet is hard…

The standard ketogenic diet consists of about 75 percent fat, 20 percent protein and 5 percent carbs. The typical “healthy” diet consists of about 45 to 65 percent carbs, 20 to 35 percent fat and 10 to 35 percent protein. So that’s a big difference…

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Should you go keto?

Now, the keto diet isn’t for everybody. It’s pretty dang restrictive, which means it’s also pretty dang difficult to follow. Once you try it, you may fall in love with how it makes you feel, which could make it easier to stick to.

But the truth is, most of us aren’t going to follow the keto diet in its full form. Luckily, there are different versions you can follow. One less extreme version is kind of similar to intermittent fasting…

It’s called the cyclical keto diet, and it involves following the ketogenic diet for five days and going high-carb for two days.

You can also try a more moderate high-fat, low-carb diet, the Atkins diet or a low-carb Mediterranean diet. My colleague Margaret Cantwell swears by her preferred diet — paleo — because it eschews the one food that makes you old in more ways than one.

You won’t necessarily switch into ketosis with these diets, which means you won’t experience the exact same benefits. But cutting carbs and eating lots of healthy fats has been shown time and time again to have so many benefits for your body and your brain, so it’s worth a try!

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  1. Amor, et al. “Inflammation in neurodegenerative diseases.” — Immunology. 2010 Feb; 129(2): 154–169.
  2. How ketogenic diets curb inflammation — MedicalXpress. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  3. Shen, et al. “Bioenergetic state regulates innate inflammatory responses through the transcriptional co-repressor CtBP.” — Nature Communications, 2017.
  4. The Ketogenic Diet 101: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide — Healthline. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
  5. Daily Amounts of Carbs, Fat, Fiber, Sodium & Protein — The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and