The Surprising Link Between Metabolism & Mental Illness | Dr. Chris Palmer

Chris Palmer

What if mental disorders like depression, anxiety and schizophrenia were actually metabolic disorders of the brain? And treating metabolic dysfunction at the level of mitochondria could help millions suffering from mental illness?

My guest today, Chris Palmer has spent three decades treating mental health disorders only to find that most patients do not get better with conventional treatments. That all changed when a patient with schizophrenia saw his symptoms go into remission from a ketogenic diet – sparking Chris’s journey into understanding the metabolic roots of mental health.

Chris is a Harvard psychiatrist, researcher and author of the book Brain Energy: A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Understanding Mental Health–and Improving Treatment for Anxiety, Depression, OCD, PTSD, and More. After 27 years of clinical practice, Dr. Palmer has integrated metabolic interventions into his treatment plan and now champions a comprehensive lifestyle approach focused on diet, exercise, sleep and stress management.

This inspired Chris to investigate how the ketogenic diet could help severe mental illness and led him to the discovery that mitochondria – the cell’s power plants – play a key role in regulating neurotransmitters and brain function.

Chris came to believe that mental disorders may actually be metabolic disorders caused by dysfunctional mitochondria that can’t produce enough ATP to fuel brain cells. Numerous studies show metabolic abnormalities in people with mental illness and abnormalities in mitochondria function.

However, diet alone isn’t enough – factors like sleep, stress, substance use and relationships also impact mitochondrial function and metabolism. A comprehensive strategy addressing both modifiable lifestyle factors and specific metabolic interventions is often needed.

With this holistic metabolic perspective, Chris believes we can finally solve the century-old mystery of mental illness, move beyond just symptom management, and truly improve the lives of the 1 billion people worldwide suffering from mental disorders.

You can find Chris at: Website | Instagram

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