In a new study from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, researchers found that people suffering from alcohol withdrawal experience less severe symptoms if they go on the ketogenic (keto) diet.
When alcoholics decide to cease drinking, they experience withdrawal symptoms—the severity differs depending on the person and the degree of dependence on alcohol.
Because the withdrawal symptoms are so unpleasant, many people seek assistance, such as checking into rehab.
Prior research has shown that when people become dependent on alcohol for a long enough period of time, their body begins to use less glucose for energy—instead, it begins to use acetate, which the body makes by metabolizing alcohol.
The lack of acetate in the body leads to the types of cravings associated with alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
The researchers also noted that when people go on a keto diet, their body has more ketone bodies to metabolize for use as an energy source.
Thus, it seemed possible that the diet could help people suffering from alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
In the study, the team tested their theory by asking 23 newly hospitalized alcoholics to go on the keto diet and used another 23 patients as a control group.
To assess the impact of the diet, the researchers measured ketone and acetate levels in the volunteers once a week.
They also looked for inflammation markers that are common in people in rehab and assessed the amount of medication needed to help the volunteers with their symptoms.
They found that the keto diet reduced withdrawal symptoms in the volunteers. The researchers conducted a similar experiment with test rats and found that the rats on the diet drank less alcohol than control rats.
The team says their results are encouraging, and note more research is required, particularly with outpatient volunteers.
If you care about alcohol and your health, please read studies about this vitamin deficiency may lead to alcohol-related dementia and findings of why some people have problems with alcohol.
For more information about alcohol and wellness, please see recent studies about a simple way to reduce irregular heart rhythm: No alcohol drinking and results showing a new way that may help treat alcohol use disorder and depression.
The study is published in Science Advances. One author of the study is Corinde E. Wiers.
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