Fun Fact of Ketogenic Diet No. 1

This is a short series to discuss the benefits of a ketogenic diet (KD) (profiled in a previous post). In this post I want to talk about another anti-inflammatory benefit of a KD on a molecular level.

Background: In every nerve cell, an action potential is synonymous with a signal being sent down a nerve. Each one of these action potentials is due to ions (think sodium, calcium, and potassium) fluxing across the nerve cell membrane. This happens when a molecule binds a receptor on the outside of the nerve. These molecules are called neurotransmitters and can either promote action potentials (signals) or inhibit them. In many cases, too many action potential-promoting molecules called excitatory neurotransmitters (EN) can over stimulate the nerve cell, effectively killing it. In this study, kianic acid (KA) was used as this EN in order to promote nerve cell stress and subsequent death.

Here’s what happened: Upon exposing mouse brain tissue (hippocampal nerve cells) to KA and acetoacetate (a molecule increased during fasting and KD) inhibited inflammation. Jeong et al. write “The KD reduced hippocampal tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) levels and nuclear factor (NF)-κB translocation into the nucleus 2 h after KA treatment… KD inhibited cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 and microsomal prostaglandin E2 synthase-1 (mPGES-1) expression in the hippocampus 6 h after KA treatment.[1]” In other words, the KD inhibits 3 of the most prominent causes of inflammation in cells: prostaglandins (this is what ibuprofen stops), NF-κB, and TNF-α. Lastly Joeng et al state “AA treatment also protected against glutamate-induced cell death in HT22 cells. [1]” Remember the overstimulation I wrote about above? The resultant cell death is significantly protected against by exposure to acetoacetate (a molecule increased during fasting and KD).

Bottom line is, this data show that a KD diet and fasting will decrease neuroinflammation. I believe this was a crucial contributor to my recovery. I outline an example of this diet in another post. I hope this is interesting to a few of you.



  1. Jeong et al. . 2011. Ketogenic diet-induced peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ activation decreases neuroinflammation in the mouse hippocampus after kainic acid-induced seizures. Journal of Experitmental Neurology. 232 (2). Pgs. 195-202.