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Keto and Parkinson’s: Change Your Diet, Change Your Life

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  Published on December 3rd, 2019
  Reading time: 2 minutes
  Last modified January 11th, 2023
keto and parkinson's

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement. Medical experts have revealed promising results with subjects who go keto and Parkinson’s.


What is the Cause of Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is caused by the death of neurons in an area of the midbrain known as the substantia nigra. These are dopamine-secreting neurons, meaning that their death will lead to reduced dopamine production. Dopamine is a vital neurotransmitter responsible for motor movement and reward-motivated behavior pathways. A lack of dopamine causes rigid movement, tremors, and may progress to difficulty with movement.

A hallmark of Parkinson’s disease is the of Lewy bodies in the brain. Lewy bodies are clumps of a protein called alpha-synuclein that do not break down and instead clog up areas of the brain.


What are the Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?

The telltale sign of Parkinson’s disease is tremors, which typically first begin in one hand. As the disease progresses through the nervous system, symptoms become more severe and may spread to other limbs. The most common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue, restlessness, or drowsiness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Stiff muscles/muscle rigidity
  • Difficulty walking or standing
  • Slow shuffling gait
  • Difficulties with memory, or confusion
  • Difficulty understanding or thinking
  • Anxiety, mood changes, or apathy


Who is at Risk for Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is one of the more common neurodegenerative diseases, presenting in more than 200,000 US cases each year. Parkinson’s diseases typically begin to develop around the 6th decade of life. Risk factors include genetics and exposure to environmental toxins.

The genetic component of Parkinson’s disease has been heavily researched and with 18 key chromosomal loci being identified. Familial inheritance has been identified as an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance, meaning both parents have to have a PD gene for an individual to develop the disease.


Keto and Parkinson’s: Is the Ketogenic Diet Useful for Parkinson’s Disease?

Research suggests that damage to a specific mitochondrial complex may cause the death of dopaminergic neurons. This leads to impairments in energy production, causing neurons to starve. Since the uptake of ketone bodies utilize a completely different transport system, as compared to glucose, they may be able to provide neurons with an alternative fuel source.

Furthermore, research suggests ketones improve mitochondrial health and may help protect from further damage. Studies show that supplementation with exogenous ketones may also improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

For more information about the therapeutic benefits of a ketogenic diet for Parkinson’s disease, check out the Parkinson’s disease Doctors Guide in Keto Club. 

At ketogenic.com, we are committed to supporting, inspiring, and educating people on the benefits of living a ketogenic lifestyle. We do this by bringing together the top researchers, practitioners, and thought-leaders who provide resources, experience, and awareness associated around the Ketogenic diet. Utilizing the latest cutting-edge research along with practical experience, the team at ketogenic.com aims to foster awareness, understanding, and connectedness in helping others optimize their life on a ketogenic diet.


  1. Tracey says:

    Also for multiple sclerosis. Reversed my secondary progressive MS disability with a #ketodiet

    1. Amy Hayes says:

      Hi, Tracey! Thanks for sharing your story! Check out an article we recently published about new research on the ketogenic diet for M.S. https://ketogenic.com/multiple-sclerosis-and-keto/

  2. Carmen says:

    I was wondering if there is a way to do a ketogenic diet without causing weight loss. I would like to help my stepfather with his Parkinson’s symptoms, but he has already lost too much weight. He doesn’t need to lose anymore.

    1. Paul Hauser says:

      yes there is Carmen! You can alter this metric on our keto calculator to generate a more accurate caloric recommendation to suite your goals.

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