Are Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Eased by the Keto Diet?
Are Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Eased by the Keto Diet?
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The keto diet has been long used for its health benefits and for helping people lose weight. It has also been shown to help certain cancers, children with epilepsy, and reduce the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Recent research has found that the keto diet has more benefits to offer.
Many people drink alcohol, but alcohol abuse and addiction are troublesome problems for many. Breaking the habit is extremely difficult, and sometimes alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous. Recent studies have found that the keto diet may be able to reduce some of these symptoms.
What is Alcoholism?
Alcohol can affect people in different ways. Some people enjoy moderate amounts of alcohol and have no problems. According to the CDCA, drinking one alcoholic beverage per day for women and two or fewer per day for men is considered moderate drinking. Others may have trouble controlling their alcohol consumption, which can be a sign of a problem.
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism are two terms that refer to a person’s inability to control alcohol consumption. Alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (a diagnostic term used by medical professionals) is about more than just how much a person drinks.1 It is about how often a person drinks, what the effects are, and what happens when he or she tries to cut back.
According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly 15 million people aged 12 years and older had alcohol use disorder, with 9 million individuals being men and nearly 5.5 million being women.2
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse
For a person to be diagnosed with alcohol use disorder, he or she must experience several of the following symptoms in the past 12 months, according to the DSM-V:
Feeling incapable of cutting back on the amount of alcohol consumed.
Drinking more alcohol than intended or for a longer period than intended.
Becoming sick for a long time as a result of too much alcohol consumption.
Inability to hold down a job, care for a family, or perform in school.
Inability to concentrate due to cravings.
Continuing to drink despite problems caused with family or friends.
Finding oneself in harmful or dangerous situations as a result of drinking.
Decreased participation in activities that were once enjoyed or important.
Drinking more alcohol as a result of tolerance to it.
Continuing to drink despite its effect on the body, such as health problems, feeling anxious, or blacking out.
Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol withdrawal can occur when a person has consumed heavy amounts of alcohol for a prolonged period then consumption is either suddenly stopped or greatly reduced. Alcohol withdrawal can occur within several hours of stopping or as long as four to five days after.
Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may include:
Alcohol withdrawal can also lead to serious problems in relationships and performance at work and school.
What is the Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet was initially used for specific medical conditions such as diabetes and epilepsy in children, but it has grown to be one of the most popular diets in the United States. The keto diet low in carbohydrates and high in fats, with most of the daily calories coming from fat.3
Many popular keto diet foods include:
What is Ketosis?
The overall goal of this diet is to enter a state of ketosis by way of fat metabolism. When the body is in a ketogenic state, it uses fat primarily for energy rather than carbohydrates. When low amounts of carbs are consumed, fats can then be converted into ketones to fuel the body.
The keto diet has widely become used in many other settings, such as weight loss and the treatment of other health conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
Types of Keto Diets
The amount of protein or carbs a person consumes may vary based on the type of keto diet. The four most popular types include:
- The Traditional Ketogenic Diet, which is “on plan” if there are 4 grams of fat for every combined 1 gram of carb and protein.
- The Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD), which entails any very low carb keto diet with macros of 55-75% fat, 15-35% protein, and 0-10% carbs.
- The High-Protein Ketogenic Diet, which is another variety of SKD that entails bringing the protein consumption to the top of its range (30-35% of calories) and fat to its bottom range (50-60% of calories), while carbohydrates remain under 10%.
- The Cyclical Ketogenic Diet, which is the standard keto diet with a ramped-up carb consumption during certain periods, known as carb cycling.
Reported Health Benefits of Keto
The keto diet is known for many health benefits, including:
- Weight loss
- Reducing inflammation
- Decreasing bad cholesterol
- Blood sugar control
- Blood pressure control
- Improved heart health
- Acne control
- Better brain health
- Reduction in migraine symptoms
Can the Keto Diet Ease Alcohol Withdrawal?
Recent research has found the keto diet to be beneficial as an alcohol withdrawal therapeutic intervention.4
When alcohol is ingested, glucose metabolism is decreased and acetate, a metabolite of alcohol, is increased as energy sources. With chronic alcohol consumption, there is an increase in acetate and ketone bodies in the brain. Previous research showed that when people consume alcohol and are intoxicated, their ability to metabolize acetate goes up while their ability to metabolize glucose goes down. When a person goes into alcohol detoxification, they are in a state of deprivation because the brain’s new primary energy source is lacking, leading to the symptoms of withdrawal.
By putting the body into ketosis, the transition in the brain from acetate as the primary source of energy was eased.
Studies on the Keto Diet
One study on the effects of the keto diet involved 33 people seeking alcoholism treatment in a clinical setting. For three weeks, 19 patients were given a keto diet while 14 were fed a standard American diet. Patients on the keto diet reported lower cravings. Furthermore, only 26% of patients on the keto diet needed benzodiazepine drugs to help with alcohol withdrawal symptoms in comparison to 57% of patients on the standard American diet.
However, in this study, the patients reported their alcohol cravings on their own. Researchers used a rat model to get a better understanding. The rats also significantly decreased their alcohol intake, which suggests a potentially lasting effect on the drinking patterns that extend beyond the alcohol withdrawal period.
Treatment for Alcoholism
Recovery from alcohol abuse is a personal experience, and the journey can look different for everyone. Arrow Passage Recovery offers a variety of treatment types to ensure you or your loved one receives the necessary support to lead a life of recovery and fulfillment.
Several treatment programs and therapies are available at Arrow Passage Recovery. We offer residential treatment programs, outpatient programs, and intensive outpatient programs. Determining which program is best for you or your loved one is dependent on different factors, including finances and availability.
We also offer individualized therapy options, including dialectical-behavioral therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational therapy, and more. Medication-assisted treatments for detox and withdrawal symptoms are available as well. Medications may include drugs such as Antabuse, Naltrexone, and Campral.
If you or a loved one are ready to get on the path to recovery and fight against alcohol use disorder, reach out to us today to get started.