Research: Is a ketogenic diet good for your brain?
What you eat has a huge impact on your brain health!
With your donation, you are supporting high-quality scientific research that will have an impact on people’s health and well-being. In our research we are addressing diet for ADHD, autism, depression and Alzheimer’s prevention within the scope of diet, we are focusing on keto. We define keto as ‘being in ketosis’, which means you have a certain amount of ketones (>0,5mM) in your blood.
How do you get these ketones in your blood?
This can be done in three ways: by following a ketogenic diet, by fasting and by using supplements (such as exogenous ketones or MCT oil).
What is our goal?
- Our primary goal is to contribute to scientific knowledge by conducting scientific research.
- We also want to bridge the gap between academia and society. Information that is discussed at scientific conferences does not always reach those who need it. We believe that everyone is entitled to information that will enable them to make their own choices.
Donate now and help us achieve these goals!
Four focus areas:
At present, no major studies have shown that a ketogenic diet helps with AD(H)D, but more and more people are sharing their positive personal experiences on social media. We know that in many cases ADHD is associated with impaired glucose metabolism in the frontal cortex. And there is usually a neurotransmitter imbalance, inflammation and oxidative stress. We also know that a ketogenic diet affects each of these factors. Now the task is to fit the puzzle pieces together by conducting specific research on keto and ADHD, so we can support these personal experiences with data and keto can be recognised as a possible therapy.
Current interventions in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), such as special education and behavioural therapy, can help patients but they do not solve the underlying neurological problems. Various small scientific studies have shown that a ketogenic diet can offer a solution. However, the effects of a ketogenic diet can vary widely among individuals, and the long-term effects are not yet known. More research is needed, with larger samples and long-term follow-up, to understand the effects and possible side effects of a ketogenic diet in children and adults with ASD.
Many preclinical studies have shown a marked improvement in depression and anxiety disorders after a keto intervention. Although we do not yet fully understand the underlying mechanisms, the current data are encouraging and warrant further research into the effects of keto on depression and anxiety disorders. As with ADHD, we’re seeing more and more personal experiences appear online, but well-designed studies and data are needed to really bring about change in the healthcare system.
Alzheimer’s is also called Type 3 Diabetes by neuroscientists because the glucose metabolism in the brain is impaired. This can be addressed with keto interventions. This is supported by numerous personal experiences and also by some slightly larger studies. It is not yet clear how and with whom this approach can best be used. Further research is therefore crucial.
In our research group, collaboration is key. No one person has to be good at everything. We work together to make as big an impact as possible!
Assistant Professor Dr Eline Dekeyster
As a young girl, I was curious and wanted to understand everything. My career as a scientist seemed almost predestined. I am also driven by a strong sense of justice and the desire to make a positive impact on people’s lives.
Born and raised in Waregem, Belgium, I then went to the University of Leuven. I stayed there for my PhD, a time I remember as if it were yesterday.
A wonderful career opportunity brought me to the Netherlands, and I soon felt at home at Janssen in Leiden. Seven years in the pharmaceutical industry taught me a lot, but I had that gnawing feeling. It’s hard to explain but it felt like I wasn’t quite where I should be. I quit my job, turned in my company car and iPhone, and sacrificed part of my salary to pursue my dream. I myself had experienced for years the positive effect keto has on my mood and wanted to research this and share the knowledge. I took a leap of faith and followed my heart back to university.
And now I am here: Assistant Professor Dekeyster.
In my role as professor and head of the research group, I combine my fascination with nutrition and neuroscience with my passion for human development and creating impact.
I am also the proud mum of my two darling sons, Jasper (2021) and Lucas (2023). I live in Oegstgeest with my family, not forgetting the cat and rabbit, and within cycling distance of the university. In the little free time I have, I like reading, doing boot camp to keep fit and cooking (ketogenic).
Using keto to improve people’s well-being feels like a calling. Will you help me answer my calling?
We collaborate not only within our team but also outside of it. Below are the logos of our partners.