Dr. Chris Palmer: Diet & Nutrition for Mental Health | Huberman Lab Podcast #99


My guest this episode is Chris Palmer, M.D., a board-certified psychiatrist and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He explains the important connection between nutrition, metabolism and mental health and his pioneering work using the ketogenic diet to successfully treat patients with various mental illnesses, including depression and schizophrenia. Dr. Palmer explains how the ketogenic diet is an evidenced-based treatment for epilepsy, mimics the fasted state and can offset the cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s. He describes the key roles of mitochondria in mental health, how certain conditions likely arise from mitochondrial dysfunction, and how low-carbohydrate diets increase mitochondrial turnover to improve mental health. He also explains how low-carbohydrate diets positively impact the gut microbiome and weight loss, important risk factors for mitochondrial health such as marijuana and alcohol, and the best way to increase circulating ketones depending on individual needs. We also cover how a ketogenic diet impacts mood, sleep, and fertility. Dr. Palmer’s work stands as a revolutionary approach to mental health and disease that, given the prevalence of mental health challenges, should be of interest to people of all backgrounds and ages.

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Dr. Chris Palmer
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Brain Energy: A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Understanding Mental Health–and Improving Treatment for Anxiety, Depression, OCD, PTSD, and More:
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00:00:00 Dr. Chris Palmer, Mental Health & Metabolic Disorders
00:03:25 Thesis, Eight Sleep, ROKA
00:07:18 Nutrition & Mental Health
00:20:43 Low-Carb Diets & Anti-Depression, Fasting, Ketosis
00:27:52 Schizophrenia, Depression & Ketogenic Diet
00:34:32 AG1 (Athletic Greens)
00:35:38 Psychiatric Mediations, Diet Adherence
00:42:35 Highly Processed Foods, Ketones & Mental Health Benefits
00:46:51 Ketogenic Diet & Epilepsy Treatment
00:56:10 Ketogenic Diet & Mitochondria Health
00:57:05 Nutrition & Benefits for Neurologic/Psychiatric Disorders
01:05:44 Mitochondrial Function & Mental Health
01:15:12 InsideTracker
01:16:23 Mitophagy, Mitochondrial Dysfunction, Aging & Diet
01:25:09 Neurons, Mitochondria & Blood Glucose
01:31:54 Obesity, Ketogenic Diet & Mitochondria
01:40:00 Mitochondrial Function: Inheritance, Risk Factors, Marijuana
01:46:34 Alcohol & Ketogenic Diet
01:55:21 Brain Imaging, Alzheimer’s Disease & Ketones
02:01:05 Exogenous (Liquid) Ketones vs. Ketogenic Diet
02:06:27 Neuronal Damage, Ketones & Glucose
02:10:16 Alzheimer’s Disease, Age-Related Cognitive Decline & Ketogenic Diet
02:23:45 Ketogenic Diet & Weight Loss
02:35:47 Ketogenic Diet & Fasting, Hypomania, Sleep
02:46:37 Low Carbohydrate Diets, Menstrual Cycles, Fertility
02:52:23 Obesity Epidemic, Semaglutide & GLP-1 Medications
03:01:01 Zero-Cost Support, YouTube Feedback, Spotify & Apple Reviews, Sponsors, Momentous Supplements, Neural Network Newsletter, Social Media

Huberman Lab is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute the practice of medicine, nursing or other professional health care services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor/patient relationship is formed. The use of information on this podcast or materials linked from this podcast is at the user’s own risk. The content of this podcast is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard or delay in obtaining medical advice for any medical condition they may have and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions.

Title Card Photo Credit: Mike Blabac –

Date: November 21, 2022

42 thoughts on “Dr. Chris Palmer: Diet & Nutrition for Mental Health | Huberman Lab Podcast #99

  1. These two truly want to help society. Chemicals made to look like food (ie Doritos, twinkies, fruit loops) are killing the masses. I just hope more people listen to these educated people and change their ways.

  2. Do a whole episode on endocrine disrupters in our environment please! Plastics, atrazine, chemicals in our food and home. There are studies about how exposure to EMFs and synthetic estrogens in the womb affect mothers. Males exposed to more phlylates in the womb have more feminized reproductive tracts. Super interesting stuff. So much of it is likely environment.

  3. Hi Dr. Andrew, I would like to get your insights on dairy consumption in moderation (inclusive of all dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, cheese, any other forms). I acknowledge how each persons body reacts differently, but in general, for a healthy human being, are there any reasons to be avoiding dairy altogether? Thanks in advance.

  4. one patient with schizophrenia lost hallucinations. maybe he metabolized his psych meds better after losing weight. in any case, it is not safe to suggest that weight loss alone is enough to solve mental illness. it really is not. my 40 yo brother is schizophrenic and went on a ketogenic diet last year — he lost an enormous amount of weight. he then went on to enter a psychotic, destructive episode which turned our lives (again) upside down.

  5. I am a 36 yo F with 2 children. I was put on my first diet at age 8 by my mom and therein began my journey of lifelong yo-yo dieting. I have been on and off a diet my entire life, losing 5, 10, 20, 50, and 75 lbs at a stretch, and always in every case I have regained the weight.

    I think my metabolic profile is insanely distorted. I don't feel full when I eat. I can eat whenever. I get sugar and food cravings every single night (almost Pavlovian/stress relief but even when not stressed, I always want to eat at night.) I also have been in eating disorder therapy for B. E. D.

    I am obese, prediabetic, my lipids are high, and I have a big stomach. My family history is of cardiovascular disease even in thin, active individuals.

    IMO I have no other choice but to take Ozempic. It is the only thing that has made me feel "normal" – not wanting food all the time, and being able to feel actually full and push my plate away. I have never experienced this in my entire life. It sucks, I do not want to be on a drug like this to achieve that. But I want to live. I don't want to have a heart attack. I don't want to die at age 50 or 60. I keep trying and trying to lose weight, and sometimes I am successful, but I always regain it… and I am at the point where I can't even get started anymore, because at this point after 30 years of failing, I have emotionally and psychologically given up BEFORE even starting.

  6. Our residential MH facility "Earth House," in NJ has been spearheading the connection between nutrition gut-health and mental health / neuronal allergies as a treatment and cause of Schizophrenia since the 1970's. I would encourage anyone interested or struggling with chronic Mental Illness to look up our program.

  7. I would love to know if one can do weight traning during keto. Ive read so much and find out different answers every where therefor I dont know if there are som real studys on this, does anybody know?

  8. Fantastic discussion. I have ordered the book and listened to grand rounds presentation for more data. I work as head of strategy for a community mental health agency in Texas that serves 50K people a year, most with chronic persistent mental illness. I am hopeful we can influence treatment and want to do research on minimally effective dosages for dietary and activity changes (influenced by Attia).

  9. On the comments about the Alzheimer research low uptake on participants negatively influencing future research opportunities, I am not at all surprised by the low numbers. I believe it is short-sighted to write-off this population from future studies. From my own personal experience with my mother's Alzheimers and talking to others, I am not surprised by the low numbers of compliance or interest in the diet. If I remember right from the podcast, these subjects were in memory care facilities. Intuitively you would think it would be easy to comply because the food is controllable, but that perspective does not take into account the amount of resistance and unusual behavior patterns that Alz patients adopt at the more severe end of the disease progression. By the time they are at a memory care unit, their families have done all they can with them, and it is the non-compliance, agitation, and aggression that lands them in the unit to start with, not the ability to self-care. My mom would have starved before she ate that diet and she was quite "with-it" enough to choose to do so – and be aggressive about her resistance. Food (especially sweets) is a powerful motivator in memory care units with staff to get compliance with ADLs like bathing or participating in activities. Rather, why not do research when patients are initially diagnosed, and the crisis of the diagnosis is compelling enough to induce compliance while patients have not progressed into the more difficult behavioral aspects of the disease? Plus if you haven't, Dr. H, you should interview Bredeson. He will say it is not only the diet, which makes RC studies difficult. But he can identify which patients will fare better with keto diet and has thousands of patients as examples, just like Palmer does.

  10. After 40 years of debilitating chronic pain due to arthritis I went on a Ketogenic Diet in 2018 and within 3 weeks I was no longer in pain. Perhaps I am lucky to have an immediate relapse into pain if I have a cheat day. It is a great negative reminder to why this way of eating is going to be a part of my life always. Nothing is sweeter than being pain free day and night.

  11. I donno whom to believe anymore. It’ s not that anyone is lying, though… But… two friends of mine who are very well educated told me that they are not for keto for women because of what it can do to hormones. The other friend told me she was on keto few months and it did nothing to her mental health. If it helps some people mental health, maybe it’ s not about keto, maybe it’s because some particular nutrient they started eating more since they are on keto… maybe it’ s not keto that helped some peiple… maybe only avoiding some food, dicreased inflamation… I am really confused altogether.

  12. This part about how we used to eat junk food back in 70’ s and wearen’
    t obese… well… people couldn’ t afford as much as we can afford now. Maybe that’ s the reason….

  13. This episode got my husband who suffers from schizophrenia to start keto with me and lose 50 lbs in 6 months and he's feeling great. Thank you so much for sharing this information! Love these podcasts 💕

  14. How does Iodine and the lack of it in our food affect obesity? I just read “The Iodine Crisis” and would like to hear your take on the removal of iodine from our bread in 1972 and how that may be affecting obesity here in the US as opposed to Japan.

  15. I have been an intense sleep walker for as long as I know. I scream, jump around and have even ran into the wall at night. It happens almost every night. At one point I did a strict ketogenic diet for three weeks, and during that time my wife reported that I had zero sleep walking episodes! So it clearly affects the brain in some way.

  16. Much of this sounds like a hammer looking for a nail. Keto is a religion at this point.

    Since Huberman says single cases should be valued and are of significant research value….

    My father was diagnosed with Alzheimers at 65. It was caught early and one of his first steps (along with pharma) was strict adherence to keto. My stepmom was dedicated to preparation of keto meals. They were extremely compliant and stayed on it for over a year. It had no impact. They had read Wheat Belly and other popular literature and were extremely hopeful/optimistic at the outset but it had absolute zero observable impact so after a year,they gave up. (Also the clinical indicators of the progression of the disease did not improve or decelerate).

    Upon resuming a traditional diet, still no change/notable worsening.

    So at the end of the day, they chose quality of life and finding moments of joy in consuming enjoyable meals. He passed at 73.

    These kinds of unsupported speculation cost them a lot of money, time and gave them s lot of unrealized hope.

  17. AND BTW, I am a regular viewer and LOVE the podcast but I dont like when the conversation devolves into dogma vs actual clinical research findings.

    Nonetheless, THANK YOU for bringing the conversation to the public

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