Published November 2022 on YouTube

Dr. Chris Palmer: Diet & Nutrition for Mental Health | Huberman Lab Podcast #99

1. Nutrition and Mental Health

Dr. Chris explains how different forms of nutrition can be used to treat various psychiatric disorders, highlighting the critical roles that mitochondrial function and dysfunction play in mental health and mental illness. He also shares actionable measures that people can take in order to improve their mental health, including fasting and a modified ketogenic diet.+

2. Thesis, Eight Sleep, ROKA

Andrew emphasizes the separation between his podcast and his professional roles at Stanford, and thanks sponsors Thesis, Eight Sleep, and Roca for supporting free science information for the public. He discusses the benefits of Thesis' custom nootropics, Eight Sleep's smart mattress covers, and Roca's eyeglasses and sunglasses designed for performance and aesthetics.+

3. Nutrition & Mental Health

Nutrition and Mental Health:Chris shares his personal story of struggling with mental illness and how it led him to explore the intimate relationship between nutrition and mental health. He discusses the impact of long-term nutrition on our brain and body, and the miraculous findings of altering nutrition to find relief for mental health issues.+
Overcoming Metabolic Syndrome:Chris shares his struggle with metabolic syndrome and how he overcame it by trying a different diet. He talks about his skepticism towards the Atkins diet and how it ultimately helped him normalize his blood pressure and lipids.+
Overcoming Mental Health:Chris shares his journey of struggling with low grade depression and OCD, and how medications and psychotherapy didn't help him. He found a solution in switching to a new diet, which not only helped him lose weight but also improved his mental health.+
Overcoming Mental Health:Chris shares his experience with various psychotherapies and how they did nothing beneficial for him. He then talks about how a dietary change helped him get rid of metabolic syndrome and improved his mood, energy, concentration, and sleep. Andrew highlights the importance of tools to overcome mental health struggles.+

4. Nutrition's Antidepressant Effect

Nutrition's Antidepressant Effect:Chris, a physician, noticed a powerful antidepressant effect from a diet he tried. He then introduced it to some of his treatment-resistant mental illness patients who also experienced a remarkable improvement in their mood and energy.+
Ketogenic Diet Antidepressant:Chris Palmer discusses his experience with prescribing a ketogenic diet to his patients with depression and observing a powerful antidepressant effect once patients achieved ketosis. He also mentions the importance of monitoring ketones and tailoring the diet to individual patients.+

5. Schizoaffective Disorder Insights

Schizoaffective Disorder:Chris shares how he helped a patient with schizoaffective disorder lose weight and improve his symptoms, despite trying 17 different medications that didn't work. Andrew clarifies the difference between schizoaffective disorder and other related disorders like schizophrenia and schizotypal.+
Ketogenic Diet Effect:Chris Palmer shares how a patient with schizophrenia experienced dramatic improvements in his symptoms after trying the ketogenic diet. The patient lost weight, became more present, and even reported a decrease in his auditory hallucinations.+

6. AG1 (Athletic Greens)

Andrew emphasizes the importance of gut health and how Athletic Greens provides the optimal probiotics and adaptogens for microbiotic health. He also mentions how gut microbiota communicate with the brain and immune system to impact our overall health.+

7. Medication and Adherence

Medication and Adherence:Chris discusses the challenges of tapering off medication for a patient with schizoaffective disorder who has been on medication for decades. He also addresses the difficulties of adhering to a ketogenic diet for people with mental health disorders, emphasizing the importance of doing so with professional supervision.+
Medication Adherence:Chris and Andrew discuss the importance of medication adherence in psychiatric treatment, and the potential consequences of abruptly stopping medication. They also touch on the difficulties of maintaining adherence and the benefits of monitoring compliance through objective biomarkers.+

8. Ketones and Mental Health

Chris Palmer discusses the importance of measuring blood ketone levels for patients with mental health disorders, and how a ketogenic diet can be beneficial for those with chronic conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He also emphasizes the negative impact of highly processed foods on metabolic and mental health.+

9. Nutrition and Epilepsy

Nutrition for Mental Health:Andrew and Chris discuss the use of nutrition as a tool to treat mental illness and the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet in treating conditions of the nervous system. They emphasize the importance of considering nutrition as a major tool in the landscape of effective treatments.+
Fasting for Epilepsy:Chris and Andrew discuss the history of fasting as a therapeutic intervention for epilepsy. They explore how the ketogenic diet was developed to treat epilepsy and how fasting can cause beneficial shifts in metabolism.+
Ketogenic Diet for Epilepsy:Chris explains how the ketogenic diet was developed to mimic the fasting state and treat epilepsy. The diet was resurrected in the 1970s for treatment-resistant cases, and one-third of patients become seizure-free, while another third see a clinical benefit. The diet influences neurotransmitter levels, gene expression, brain inflammation, and gut microbiome, and improves insulin resistance.+

10. Ketogenic Diet Benefits

Chris explains how the ketogenic diet stimulates two processes related to mitochondria, mitophagy and mitochondrial biogenesis, which leads to healthier mitochondria in the body and brain. This is the reason why the diet is a powerful treatment for both epilepsy and chronic mental disorders.+

11. Brain Chemistry Tools

Nutrition and Mental Health:Chris discusses the potential benefits of nutrition changes, specifically the ketogenic diet, for various mental disorders such as chronic depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. While randomized controlled trials are still underway, case studies and pilot trials have shown promising results in improving symptoms and even achieving remission of illness.+
Epilepsy Treatments:Chris discusses the use of epilepsy treatments in mental health and how the Ketogenic diet is an established evidence-based treatment for epilepsy that can also be used for serious mental disorders. He mentions several medications that are used for seizures but are commonly used off-label in psychiatry due to the lack of effective FDA-approved treatments.+
Tools for Altering Brain Chemistry:Andrew and Carl discuss the tools available to psychiatrists and neuroscientists for dissecting the brain and altering brain chemistry. They touch on the use of drugs, nutrition, and observing behavior as tools for treating psychiatric disorders. The field is still in its infancy, but there is hope for change in the future.+

12. Mitochondria's Crucial Role

Mitochondria's Role:Andrew and Chris discuss how mitochondria are not just energy factories, but also play a crucial role in the production and regulation of neurotransmitters in neurons. Their primary function is to direct and allocate resources throughout a cell.+
Mitochondria's Role:Chris explains the importance of mitochondria in the production and release of neurotransmitters, as well as their role in regulating epigenetics and gene expression.+
Mitochondria and Mental Health:Chris explains how mitochondria play a crucial role in regulating key variables like neurotransmitters, hormones, epigenetic expression, and inflammation. Dysfunctional mitochondria can cause dysregulation of these variables, leading to mental disorders. Understanding the science of mitochondria can help connect the dots of the mental illness puzzle.+

13. InsideTracker

Andrew discusses the importance of regular blood work and introduces Inside Tracker, a personalized nutrition platform that analyzes data from your blood and DNA to help you better understand your body and reach your health goals.+

14. Mitochondrial Functions

Mitochondrial Functions:Andrew discusses the various functions of mitochondria and how they are not just responsible for energy production but also play a role in gene expression and neurotransmitter production. He also talks about mitophagy, the process of gobbling up mitochondria to replace them with healthier ones.+
Mitophagy and Aging:Chris and Andrew discuss the role of mitophagy in aging and how fasting and calorie restriction can stimulate the body to become lean and conservative in its allocation of resources. They also talk about mitochondrial dysfunction and how it is associated with all chronic mental disorders. Mitophagy is trying to address all of this by getting rid of old or defective mitochondria and replacing them with new ones, with calorie restriction being the most powerful tool we have right now.+

15. Mitochondrial Health

Mitochondrial Health:Chris and Andrew discuss the benefits of fasting and fasting mimicking diets in preventing aging and stimulating mitophagy. They also explore the impact of glucose levels in the brain on mental and physical health, and how various diets can positively impact mitochondrial function and biogenesis.+
Neurons and Glucose:Andrew and Chris discuss the relationship between neurons and glucose, questioning why neurons love glucose but can become sick with too much of it. Chris suggests that glucose may be a symptom of mitochondrial dysfunction, and that consuming junk food can cause dysregulation of glucose levels. Andrew shares his personal diet and exercise routine.+

16. Glucose and Obesity

Glucose and Mood:Andrew and Chris discuss the effects of glucose on mood and speculate whether people who eat moderate amounts of carbohydrates might feel better in a lower glucose state. They also touch on the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet as a treatment for depression and the importance of distinguishing between cause and treatment.+
Obesity Epidemic:Chris and Andrew discuss the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet in treating epilepsy in infants and the lack of understanding around the causes of the obesity epidemic in modern times. Despite the prevalence of junk food in the past, there has been a significant increase in obesity rates, suggesting that there may be other factors at play.+
Mitochondria and Obesity:Chris and Andrew discuss the role of mitochondria in the obesity epidemic and how environmental factors can impair mitochondrial function. They also note the rarity of individuals who can eat anything and not gain weight, suggesting that epigenetic factors in the womb environment may be predisposing children to obesity.+

17. Maternal DNA and THC

Maternal DNA and Mitochondria:Andrew and Chris discuss the inheritance of DNA and the role of maternal DNA in determining mitochondrial DNA. While mitochondria are inherited from the mother, the majority of proteins that make up mitochondria are encoded in the nuclear DNA and inherited from both parents. Mitochondrial dysfunction can be a primary driver of mental and metabolic illnesses, but it is not solely determined by maternal DNA.+
Harmful Effects of THC:Chris explains how THC impairs the function of mitochondria in the brain, causing premature aging and memory impairment. Although it may help people relax, chronic use of THC can harm overall mental and metabolic health. Andrew adds that high concentrations of THC in products like vaping and edibles can be problematic, especially for adolescents.+

18. Alcohol & Ketogenic Diet

Alcohol and Ketogenic Diet:Chris explains how alcohol can disrupt the way the brain uses fuels and how a ketogenic diet can help improve brain metabolism in alcoholics. Nora Volkov led a study that showed patients who got a ketogenic diet required fewer benzodiazepines for their detox, reported fewer cravings for alcohol, and showed reduced levels of neuroinflammation.+
Alcohol and Keto:Chris and Andrew discuss a research study that suggests correcting brain metabolic defects from chronic alcohol use may help people be sober. However, a caveat to the research is that those on a ketogenic diet had a five-fold increase in blood alcohol levels, meaning they drank more. The speakers joke that this makes them "cheap dates."+
Alcohol and Ketogenic Diet:Chris warns about the dangers of drinking alcohol while on a ketogenic diet, as it can lead to deadly consequences. Andrew adds to the discussion by explaining the importance of astrocytes in the brain and their role in disease prevention.+

19. Brain Metabolism Insights

Brain Metabolism:Andrew and Chris discuss how the hypothalamus plays a role in regulating basal functions like metabolism and cravings. They also explore neuroimaging studies that measure glucose metabolism and how ketone supplements can correct brain metabolism deficits.+
Ketone Esters and Cognitive Improvement:Andrew Huberman and Chris Palmer discuss the benefits of ketone esters and how they can improve cognitive function, even without following a strict ketogenic diet. Studies have shown that reducing carbohydrate consumption at breakfast and lunch can result in cognitive improvement in metabolically compromised brain cells.+

20. Liquid Ketones

Liquid Ketones:Andrew and Chris discuss the potential benefits of liquid ketones for people with mood disorders who are unable to adhere to a ketogenic diet. Chris shares his clinical experience and explains why he believes exogenous ketones are not as effective as the ketogenic diet. They also touch on the multifaceted benefits of the ketogenic diet beyond just ketones.+
Ketones and Metabolism:Chris and Andrew discuss the benefits of ketones in clinical use and how they can help the body process food into ketones to fuel the brain. They also touch on the potential use of exogenous ketones in alcohol use disorder treatment.+

21. Neuronal Damage, Ketones & Glucose

Chris explains that while the brain needs glucose to function, when ketones are available, metabolically compromised cells will preferentially use them to repair and maintain themselves.+

22. Ketogenic Diet for Alzheimer's

Ketogenic Diet and Alzheimer's:Andrew discusses the potential benefits of the ketogenic diet for Alzheimer's and age-related cognitive decline, and the lack of controlled clinical trials exploring this topic. He shares insights from a friend who is a chair of Cardiology, who is interested in the topic, and highlights the frustration of the community in the absence of clinical trials.+
Ketogenic Diet for Alzheimer's:Chris shares the results of small pilot clinical trials and animal models that show the potential of the ketogenic diet in improving biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease and cognitive function. However, challenges in recruiting participants for larger studies are discussed.+
Ketogenic Diet Controversy:Chris and Andrew discuss the controversy surrounding the ketogenic diet and its potential benefits for cognitive improvement. They address the challenges of getting people to adhere to the diet and the difficulty of securing research funding for such studies. Despite the controversy, they both agree that more intensive support and education could help make the diet more accessible and effective for patients.+
The Power of Ketogenic Diet:Chris Palmer discusses the benefits of a ketogenic diet for patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and how it can help with cognitive function in Alzheimer's patients. He also explains why his patients are more successful in sticking to the diet than others and the negative consequences of going off the diet. Andrew Huberman adds his perspective on the importance of clinical observation and the limitations of randomized clinical trials.+

23. Ketogenic Diet & Weight Loss

Ketogenic Diet Dosage:Andrew discusses how the ketogenic diet is not a one-size-fits-all approach and can be prescribed in different dosage ranges depending on the patient and their needs. While weight loss may be a side effect, the diet is primarily used as a medical intervention for epilepsy and can be tailored to treat obesity.+
Ketogenic Diet Strategy:Chris discusses his dietary strategy for inducing a state of ketosis, which is mimicking the fasting state, by not eating anything, by fasting or intermittent fasting, and you get your results. He recommends less than 20 grams of carbs a day for those people who are obese and want to lose weight.+
Healthy Fats:Chris Palmer discusses the benefits of healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, and nuts, and why he disagrees with the American Heart Association's stance on coconut oil. The conversation also touches on the different fat requirements for obese and thin individuals and alternative sources of protein for vegans.+
Mental Health Diet:Chris discusses the benefits of a ketogenic diet for mental health, including objective biomarkers for measuring ketosis and clinical benefits. While some people may benefit from simply restricting carbohydrates, those with serious mental disorders should work with a medical professional to ensure proper treatment and monitoring.+

24. Sleep and Nutrition

Fasting Benefits:Chris Palmer discusses the benefits of fasting in combination with the Ketogenic Diet for patients with type two diabetes and chronic depression. He shares how a three or four day water fast can help normalize blood sugars and even have rewarding properties. However, he also warns of the risks of hypomania in psychiatric patients who use the Keto Diet for weight loss.+
Sleep and Hypomania:Chris and Andrew discuss the differences between hypomania and mania, and how hypomania can be beneficial for creativity and productivity. They also explore the dangers of sleep deprivation and the importance of getting sufficient quality sleep, even for those on a low carbohydrate diet.+
Sleep and Nutrition:Andrew and Chris discuss the importance of sleep and how nutrition can affect it. They talk about the dangers of not getting enough sleep and the benefits of adjusting when you eat carbohydrates. They also offer behavioral measures to improve sleep, such as getting at least 6 hours of sleep a night.+
Sleep Solutions:Chris and Andrew discuss sleep solutions for those with serious mental illnesses, including the use of supplements, carbohydrates, and prescription sleeping medications. Chris recommends short-term use of benzodiazepines for three to seven days of decent sleep, followed by attempts to get off the medication.+

25. Hormones and Diets

Hormones and Diets:Chris and Andrew discuss the impact of low carbohydrate and ketogenic diets on hormones, particularly in relation to menstrual cycles and male fertility. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, they share observations and animal models that suggest potential impacts on hormones.+
Ketogenic Diet Effects:Chris and Andrew discuss the effects of the Ketogenic diet on fertility, particularly in women. While some women have seen positive changes, others have experienced difficulties getting pregnant. The speakers caution against using the diet as a reliable form of contraception.+

26. Obesity Epidemic, Semaglutide & GLP-1 Medications

GLP-1 Weight Loss:Andrew and Chris discuss the efficacy of semiglutide and other GLP-1 related compounds in treating obesity. While a shift in diet and exercise can produce similar weight loss, many people may not adhere to these lifestyle changes. They also touch on the history of weight loss drugs such as fenfen and amphetamines.+
Obesity Medications:Chris and Andrew discuss the effectiveness of GLP one medications for obesity and whether they address the root cause of metabolic derangement. Chris argues that lifestyle interventions, such as diet and exercise, are a better approach to controlling type two diabetes and obesity.+

27. Brain Treatments

Andrew discusses the various treatments available for psychiatric disorders with Dr. Chris Palmer, including those mentioned in his new book "Brain Energy". They also mention the benefits of supplements for enhancing sleep, focus, and hormone augmentation.+