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Keto for Mental Health

After years of chronic pain and fatigue, licensed mental health therapist Nicole Laurent discovered the power of a ketogenic diet to get her off all her medications and free of chronic pain and gain boundless energy. And now she helps her clients discover the healing power, too, for mental health and neurological conditions.

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Carole Freeman: Hey everybody. Are you wondering if there’s something more you could do for anxiety, depression, pain?

Do you wonder if your diet could actually improve your mental health? We’ll stick around because this episode is for you. I’m so excited. We’re talking with Nicole Laurent, licensed mental health counselor about the keto diet for mental health. So welcome, welcome everyone to keto chat live. I’m your host Carole Freeman.

I have a master’s in nutrition and clinical health psychology as well as a board certification in keto nutrition specialists. I specialize in helping women 40 plus follow a keto diet for sustainable weight loss. And let me share the bio of our guest today.

I’m very excited to have Nicole. She completed her master’s in clinical psychology from Argosy university in 2007, and has worked in private practice working with a variety of populations for over 15 years using evidence-based behavioral practices, such as behavioral therapies CBD EMDR and DBT.

And a little bit more, more about Nicole after having her own profound health experience with dietary change involving therapeutic carbs. Boy, I think I haven’t used my mouth enough today. It’s not warmed up yet. I should have done like the exercises that singers do or something. Let’s say involving therapeutic carbohydrate restriction, she began to become interested in nutritional therapy for neurological disorders and mental illness.

She began to talk about food choices with patients and use therapy skills to help clients remove resistance to behavioral change and learn how to use nutrition, to feed and heal their brains. She has since received additional training in the use of nutritional and integrative therapies to treat mental illness.

And neurological disorders and has begun to pivot her practice to helping people use these therapies exclusively. She finds using these methods with therapy to be powerful and transformative for the people she has the honor to work with. And so welcome, Nicole Laurent.

Nicole Laurent: Hi, thank you for having

Carole Freeman: me. Oh, my pleasure. My pleasure. Gosh, where should we begin? So let’s start, let’s see. I want to go back before you discovered keto. So what got you into mental health counseling?

Nicole Laurent: Ah, so I, what got me into mental health counseling let’s see. I realized that all the books around me were about relationships and that maybe that was an interest for me.

So that’s what that’s what set me up to go to clinical school for clinical psychology. And yeah, that’s, I’ve always been interested. I know that when it comes to. Relationships that are not healthy, that there is a profound amount of suffering that comes along with that. And so I think that is probably what drew me to it was that there’s a lot of pain in that area.

And yeah, that’s what I, that’s where I started.

Carole Freeman: All right. Let’s then go into your discovery of a therapeutic carbohydrate restriction, which some may call a keto diet. That’s the trendy term for it right now, but yeah. How did you even get on your own journey?

Keto for Mental Health with Nicole Laurent

Keto for Mental Health. After years of chronic pain and fatigue, licensed mental health therapist Nicole Laurent discovered the power of a ketogenic diet to get her off all her medications and free of chronic pain and gain boundless energy.

Nicole Laurent: Discovering this? I developed a chronic pain disorder in graduate school. I had spondylosis and I got some trigeminal neuralgia, which is a nerve pain in the face. That’s pretty severe. And it also, I got chronic migraines every single day, and I was desperate and going to doctors and trying to figure it out while going to graduate school.

Ended up getting, later it got fixed with a with a neurostimulator of all things lay after many years of suffering, I got a a neurostimulator implanted in, and it reprogrammed that area where the pain was coming from. And that was fantastic. But by then I had been talked into pain medications and I remember the conversations.

I remember being in tears when I finally gave in to get on those beds, I was like, you’re sure you promise we can get me off these, there’s not going to be a problem. And they swore up and down and they promised, and they said, this is really the only treatment for what’s going on for you.

No one had mentioned that there was like a $40,000 surgery that could be done to fix it. Let’s put them on pain meds first. And I just happened to be one of those people that every time they tried to detox me off of it, after the. Fixed it wouldn’t stick. So there’s these bridge medications that they use, Suboxone Subutex.

My liver wouldn’t handle one. I would detox really painful process with it still and then be back on it. So I was stuck on the bridge medication for years and years. And the bridge medications and pain medications disrupt your hormones, disrupt your neuro-transmitters deplete, your nutrition, right?

Drug induced, nutrient depletion is a thing. And so by the time I finally had a successful detox I was completely debilitated for a good month. Like I could barely get off the couch and my brain was mush. Like my brain was mush, whatever came through my mind, it just came out of my mouth.

I had no frontal lobe left. I just really did it. And that eventually got a little bit better, it was like two years after my detoxification. And I was still like, my brain was not the way I wanted it. My brain was not quite where I was like, when I was in graduate school, I was one of those people they’d say, tell me about this.

And I could see a book page and the page number and actually see some of the paragraphs that I had read. And I was not there anymore. I w I had stopped reading because it’s such a high cognitive load to read, but I was still curious and I was still listening to podcasts. And so I came across, I think I was listening to a lot of Jimmy Dore and I think low-carbon D was out then, different podcasts.

And I heard something about the ketogenic diet and they talked about all the health benefits and they talked about. How was great for your brain. And I was like, oh, because I had been seeing a functional medicine person. So I had been eating really clean all those years still had a ton of inflammation in my body.

Cause you know so I was eating clean. I was eating whole foods already. So I was like, oh, this isn’t that big of a change for me. I’m just going to take out these particular foods and add some more of these. And after, listening to 50 podcasts, I got my gumption up. And I did it and.

But that is my fuel source. I was never supposed to run on carbs. My brain just completely blossomed. I still had some cognitive issues, but the brain energy I had was amazing. I had a ton of energy. Like I was always chronically fatigued and just barely making it. And three months after going keto, I joined a CrossFit gym.

You know what I mean? So I didn’t do great at it. Nobody does at first, but I still don’t do great at it, but I, but the point is I had the energy to like, I’m going to work out. Like I feel good and so my brain just continued to heal and continue to get better. And I started to do better and better work with my.

And you get a lot of clients and yeah anyway, so I was going to say, you get a lot of clients that are suffering. There’s a lot of people that are not getting better on meds, and we’re not allowed to talk about it. And there are a lot of people that really work hard in therapy and try to do the therapy work with their brain is just not functioning very well.

That takes a lot of energy to do really good therapy work and to provide very good therapy work. And so I feel like it really leveled me up as a therapist.

Carole Freeman: What it sounds like you didn’t even know that your brain was in a fog that once you experienced the clarity, you’re like, oh, this is the way things should be.

Nicole Laurent: Yeah, that’s so true. And until people actually experience it themselves, they can’t imagine that there’s much difference. And

in fact, most people think without carbs that you should have very low energy and you’re going to be lethargic and fuzzy brained. And yeah, we got news for you. It’s not that way.

Yeah, absolutely. So that’s what started me on it. And then, I hate seeing people suffer unnecessarily, especially if I know something that’s going to help. And I’d get clients that had diabetes and I’d like mention, yeah. This works for that. And anyways, I just would quietly encourage people to do it for a while.

And then I decided that I wanted, I had a client she’s still my client, but she’s, I started, she’s a, she was a younger. And I started to give her nutrition advice and she looked at me, she said, do you even have any training in that? And I was like, no, I guess I don’t. And then I went back to school and I got the training, which was great where I went to Maryland university of integrative health and got a post-graduate certificate in it, but, but yeah but then I was like, yeah, I can give this advice. This is within my realm of practice, and then I went to finally, I went to a training with Georgia II, Georgia aid has an amazing training. Anybody who’s a mental health professional, or a psychiatrist or an MD or a nurse practitioner or whatever you should absolutely take Georgia aids training.

Because she goes on about how to do it specifically for people with mental illness or neurological issues. She gives lots of information about medications and potentiation effects and all the stuff we need to consider. When we do this, we’ll do this for people who have mental illness.

Carole Freeman: Oh that’s, I’m so glad you mentioned that too, because medications and different mental health conditions require expertise and additional training in that.

So it’s great that Georgia is putting that out and very important that somebody, I screen all my clients that medications and certain metal, most medical diagnoses for mental health things. I’m like, let me refer you to somebody. That’s actually got the expertise in that too.

Yeah. All right. Valerie’s here so good to see you. Haven’t seen you in a while. Good. Good evening, ladies. I’ve been looking forward to this discussion. Excellent. Valerie, she does some questions. If you’ve got specific topics or questions that you’d like us to cover too so glad you’re here.

And so as you started to bring this to your clients, then you call them clients, right?

Nicole Laurent: People, my peoples.

Carole Freeman: Yeah. What did you know what was in store? Did you think it might help a little bit, or, share with us some kind of, some of the stories of things you’ve seen?

Nicole Laurent: Yeah I knew I suspected, that it was good for anxiety and depression and mental illness because, Chris Palmer has been all over the podcast talking about his experience, Georgia.

He has been all over. Talking about her. So I knew that there was people who had experienced with this, that found that people got better and felt much better. And so I didn’t have any hesitation. And my expectation was that if they were able to do it semi consistently that they were going to see benefits and that’s exactly what I see what I’ve seen.

I use it or, I don’t push it on everybody that comes in my office. I’m at, I’m a licensed mental health counselor in Washington state. So I get a little bit of everybody in while I have this particular niche that I’m, that I really enjoy working in. I see all kinds of people and some people just not having it.

No, thank you. I want my med and my therapy. You bringing this up as weird, I’m uncomfortable, and then I have people that are what there’s a thing I can do that might actually help me, please tell me more. I’ll do it. And they do it. It’s amazing. They’re like, okay. Much better at it in the beginning than I was cause they’re just highly motivated.

And so I get, I get people with anxiety just general run of the mill kind of anxiety, and some sadness and depression and feeling overwhelmed in their life all the way to bipolar disorder. I have people using it too. I have some people with bipolar disorder on medication that stay on medication often at a lower dose.

And then I have people who are who are bipolar that only use the ketogenic diet to regulate their symptoms and to further disease. So yeah, I don’t work with anybody with schizophrenia and I don’t get that in private practice or anything, but it really works well for so many. Illnesses. When I say anxiety disorders, I’m talking about OCD, panic disorder PTSD.

Oh, my cats back there. Sorry.

Carole Freeman: I could see cat was contemplating. I’m going to jump on the top of that chair here goes.

Nicole Laurent: Yeah. I just want you to fall on me. Sometimes it happens during sessions, a little stressful. So yeah, so panic disorder, PTSD. I’ve really seen, I bought that when I was a little bit surprised by, but it makes perfect sense.

The biochemists or what I would think was the biochemistry underlying those improvements. But yeah, PTSD is good. Social anxiety disorder. I’ve seen it work really well with and of course depression. So yeah it’s fun. It’s, I’ve been doing this for 15 years.

And I think I’ve been doing ketogenic diets specifically, probably four years, three, maybe five years at the most, I didn’t really mark the time or whatever. Oh, excuse me, kidney. But that, it really, this is what the medical doctors say, I’ve been treating diabetes for, 10 years or 20 years and was feeling burned out.

And then I whip this out and people are getting better and it feels good to be a practitioner again. And so that’s what I’m experiencing.

Carole Freeman: Yeah. Let’s talk about that. The myth of well diet in your brain, those are separate things. Like

Nicole Laurent: even we need five podcasts for that really, but I’ll do my best.


Carole Freeman: And even in my training, so I have a very special degree that is, a double master’s, it’s a nutrition and psychology degree bastard. Th the school is amazing and it’s, as far as I know, it’s the one and only program that does this, and, the students all get it. Like everyone was going through that, understand that what you, what goes on in your brain influences how you eat and what you eat, influences your whole body and your brain is part of your body.

And, yeah, but it was still interesting though, is even in that program, we had two separate advisors. We have the dietician side of it, and then we have the psychology side of it, and they really didn’t because of their training. They didn’t really see that they were really interrelated. So let’s talk about that as isn’t the brain like detached from our head, how does our food influence how our brain works?

Nicole Laurent: Oh my gosh. It’s everything like, I can’t even begin. So first of all we, I’ll start with my blog because the blog was really my attempt. So I have a little blog it’s called mental health, keto.com. And the reason I started it was that I wanted to be able to intelligently explain to clients why the keto diet might help this or that disorder.

And I first I found I can’t remember where I found it, but I, it had identified what ketones do. What are the, what do ketones do at least in animal studies and some human, some human studies and those underlying mechanisms, what do we know that ketones do? And what do we know that stable blood sugars do?

And so then what I would do, so in, in those were the underlying factors to. Most mental illnesses. I was like, oh, keto, ketones help those. Oh, interesting. So let’s see exactly what those factors are and these different disease processes or illnesses. And so it was brain hypometabolism, so fuel.

So brains need lots of fuel. And ketones, as we know, are beautiful fuels for the brain brains, love them, neurons love them. And they, they do great things. And brain hypometabolism oxidative stress, there tends to be levels high levels of oxidative stress and ketones help.

Those neuroinflammation is also another factor that we see in different mental illnesses. And of course, neurotransmitter imbalances and ketogenic diets, ketones ketones, specifically they’d hydroxybutyrate in particular. Have effects on those four factors. And then I would look up, I’d be like, okay, I want to know what those four, if those four factors I have a, are an influence in PTSD, for example.

So I would look at the literature and I would do a look of the literature and sure enough, neuro-transmitter imbalances areas of brain hypometabolism. It’s often different parts of the brain. And oxidative stress would come up consistently. Inflammation would come up consistently and then I would write a blog post that kind of would talk about, okay, so this, these disease processes, these particular underlying disease processes are an influence or a factor in this disease.

And so here’s what, how ketones might affect those. And here’s what we know. And so that’s one way right there. And the piece that I think that I’m most excited about other than the. And the way that they heal brains, and balance neuro-transmitters is also the micronutrient piece.

So a well-formulated ketogenic diet is a very micronutrient, rich diet, for sure. I don’t know what they’re talking about with all those nutrient deficiencies, but any diet.

Carole Freeman: Yeah that’s so surprising. I’m glad you said that too, because the original ketogenic diets for little kids in the 1920s was, a cup of corn oil, soybean oil, and this, they didn’t know what they were doing and now you can just eat real whole foods.

You’re right. It’s actually, it can be so much more nutrient dense than the standard

Nicole Laurent: American diet and micronutrient sparing. So a key well-formulated ketogenic diets spares, magnesium. You don’t burn through it trying to turn glucose into usable fuel. It’s the, I am in sparing, right? I am in vitamin B, one sparing.

So there’s that piece and what a lot of people don’t understand is those micro eat, like in order to and amino acids, right? Like you need tryptofan to make serotonin and you need serotonin to make. Melatonin. And if you don’t have enough IRN and B6 and zinc, I don’t care how much serotonin re-uptake inhibitor use you are going to down.

You’re not making enough serotonin even hanging out into, out in the synapse to do good work, right? Like it should always start with the nutrition. We should never be trying to change these neurotransmitter balances without making sure that the basic precursors are there in order to make the things that the brain needs.

And so yeah, nutrition is intimately connected to your mental health in way in, in ways we know in ways we haven’t discovered.

Carole Freeman: Yeah. Oh, wow. I, and I bet there are a lot of people listening, watching to this right now that are going to be really surprised to know that there is a lot of research on ketones and how it’s beneficial in the body and the brain.

So all the things you’re mentioning that we know, Hey, there is research on this. This is not some fad thing. Nicole, would you agree that, okay, so some people might be listening and hearing oh, this ketosis magic diet, it’s going to do all these things, or would you agree that no, it’s actually just returning us to a diet.

That’s more than aligned with the way we should be eating. And instead of the 50 years of high carbohydrate processed refined sugars and oils and low protein, low nutrient dense foods,

Nicole Laurent: Yeah. Yeah. I think that, sorry, I’m trying to get out of this Sunbeam. I dunno. I love the sun is out, but it’s messing with my cameras, so I can’t see.

So I think that I think that when you have a body that doesn’t want a lot of blood sugar floating around, like it has it stores, it a little bit in the liver, teeny bit in the kidney, a little bit in the muscles, right? In case you get attacked by a lion and you need to run really fast.

But other than that, it wants, it doesn’t want more than a teaspoon worth of glucose in your bloodstream at any time. And it really works very hard in a desperate way to get any extra out of your bloodstream. I think that might be a no brainer that maybe. Once in a while was okay. Like fruit season, I don’t know, but not today’s fruits.

That’s a very different fruit, I little bit is fine and your body can handle it. But when you’re, when your body is screaming, when your pancreas is screaming and your insulin is high and it’s desperate, just shove it out of your bloodstream. I don’t know. Maybe that’s a clue that was not meant to be our primary.

Carole Freeman: So logical, I love listening to you explain these things because it’s stuff that I know. And then I’m like, oh, I never thought about that way. So this is already fun for me, Nicole. I hope everyone else is enjoying it, but I’m having a great time. Oh yeah. Okay. Lots of research and it just makes logical sense that this is just feeding our brain, the things that it needs.

It’s a full of micronutrients and it’s micronutrient sparing. That’s really cool that you talked about that. Cause I, I never heard that about the magnesium. I thought about it with the thiamine, right? Cause Diamond’s primary goal is in, turning carbohydrates into fuel. So funny, I’m learning so much.

This is great. I love it. Your, the program sounds amazing that Georgia has put together and and yeah w where should we go next? Valerie? What questions do you have? Anyone else watching? What questions do you have for Nicole? Oh, I also want to ask you that about, it just seems like there is a epidemic of anxiety, right?

Like it wasn’t something that was such a common thing, when I was in school or in my twenties and now it just seems like everyone has anxiety and they can’t go do all of these things. So do you want to speak to,

Nicole Laurent: yeah. So let’s talk about that a little bit. So yeah, one is everybody’s super magnesium.

Unless you’re supplementing your magnesium deficient and that, that causes a lot of imbalances and neurotransmitters, but even more so there, there’s it depends on the diet really, again, we’re back to how the diet affects mental health. So if you are eating a height, I always say high sugar, highly processed carbohydrate.

If you’re eating more and it doesn’t even have to be that it can just be more carbs than your current level of incident insulin resistance can handle. Like for some people that’s one cookie, or a bag of figs, even though it’s a whole food, like everybody’s got a different level of insulin resistance going on.

And this is important sometimes are often I will have someone get their basic blood work done and their insulin resistance score is great. It’s five or four, but they’re bipolar. And I put them on a ketogenic diet and they still have. And so just because your fasting insulin is low, don’t think that a ketogenic diet won’t help your mental illness or your anxiety or your depression.

Eh, there’s still metabolic issues that are potentially going on in the brain that are contributing to a mental illness that is not measured in a fasting insulin score. So just, FYI, because when I first started, I was like, oh their fasting insulin is low. They’re very insulin sensitive.

Maybe this won’t work, but Nope, sure enough. So it’s so why is everybody so anxious? Okay. So there’s a lot of different reasons. Now my brain is flooded with 12 different, 12 different things that it can be. But the one that the one that I find when I explain to clients makes the most sense is the one where.

They have neuroinflammation. So people are starting to understand what neuroinflammation is. They understand that it contributes to brain fog. They understand that it contributes to not feeling good, but they don’t quite understand why that would make them anxious. So let’s talk about that. So when you have neuroinflammation, it changes the environment in which your body is trying to make your brain is trying to make neuro-transmitters okay.

And when there is a lot of inflammation going on, your body goes to make something called glutamate. Okay. And unique. Glutamate, glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter, and everybody needs it, but you only need a certain amount and what your brain is supposed to do when you don’t have a bunch of inflammation throwing this off is it will make glutamate.

And then it will make a whole bunch of this beautiful neuro-transmitter called gal. And Gabby is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It’s the chill one. It’s the one where you’re like sitting there and you feel like you got all this, you’re not overwhelmed. That’s Gabba. So when you have a lot of neuroinflammation and that could be because you’ve got like a, you’re not taking good care of yourself.

You’re not sleeping. You’re not, you’re eating high sugar, food, you’re going to Starbucks getting the caffeine and the, all the goods, all the sugar, the hit that causes neuroinflammation. Like I said, your body does not want that glucose at that level. It is a stressor in the brain to have that much sugar.

Okay. It causes early neurodegenerate. And it causes inflammation. It’s inflammatory. So you sitting there with this high blood sugar, your brain’s just stewing in it, trying to get rid of it, trying to use it. And this inflammatory process makes us so that you just make glutamate and you don’t just make, you don’t make any Gabba.

You don’t make hardly any Gabba. You don’t have any of the feel-good one. You don’t have any of the chill. I’m not overwhelmed. I’ve got this. I’m on top of the world. One, you don’t get it. You just get glutamate, you get the excitatory one. And I remember Georgia talking about this in one of her talks.

She’s I worked at this college and these college students would come in and they she said it was like the freak out moment, right? That is high glutamate. That is you. Your neuro-transmitters are imbalanced. That is not how you’re normally supposed to feel. And so there’s that, and it doesn’t just it keeps making glutamate, glutamate, it’s stressed out your brain.

Doesn’t want to have all that sugar around it, and it continues to make excitatory. You can get up to a hundred times more glutamate than you’re supposed to, and at those levels it is neurotoxic.

Carole Freeman: And so

Nicole Laurent: maybe is that maybe, yeah. That’s panic attack. That’s, that’s, that contributes to that, for sure.

For sure. These excitatory these excitatory neurotransmitters that are out of balance. Again, you’re supposed to have some, but your brain and your body knows how to balance them and how to balance them with all the other neurotransmitter systems. And yeah that’s a big. That’s why people are anxious.

And then, I, I have clients, they’ll be like I have a very stressful life. I have a lot going on. I’m very overwhelmed. I have I have maybe I’m going through a divorce or, all these other things, or I have these mean people at work, whatever.

And I totally get that, but I want to know, I want to know what’s getting in the way of your resiliency. Why are you not very resilient? Why is this feel like, because it is, there’s lots of people have lots of stressors in their life and lots of people are very anxious and overwhelmed and stressed out about it, but there’s also a lot of people who are resilient to it.

And I think it’s nutrition. I think it’s nutrition that is missing that is, is making people have daily stressors, just daily, normal stress. That they feel like they can’t handle

Carole Freeman: anxiety rates and the standard American diet rates follow a similar path, right? Yeah. Yeah. There’s one of my kiddies there too, so

And so what is it like when you broached that subject with somebody, like what you said already, some examples, like sometimes people are, Nope. I don’t want to talk about that while you were talking to me about my nutrition. Other people are very excited about, oh my gosh, there’s more I can do.

W, how do you decide who’s a good candidate to bring that up with? Do you bring it up with everyone? How does, what’s your decision?

Nicole Laurent: I I don’t usually bring it up. Sometimes I do just bring it up right away where I’ll be like, yeah, I think this could really help you. Other times it’s stuff like we put our foot in the door, because again, this information is all very new to a lot of people.

It’s, someone has anxiety and Hey, maybe you should supplement some signs that magnesium is really, good for anxiety. And then we talk about why their diet might be depleting them even further of magnesium. That’s hard to get in the diet. And and then that starts a conversation or, yeah, your anxiety is really high or your depression is flared up.

Tell me what you ate the last three days. And then that kind of will start a conversation about.

Keto for Mental Health

Keto for Mental Health. Carole interviews Nicole Laurent, licensed mental health counselor about keto for a healthy body and mind.

Carole Freeman: You mentioned the excitability too. And I’m curious then, do you know him, how much much about caffeine and specifically these energy drinks that are really popular right now? One of my clients this morning was talking about, oh, my son wanted this energy drink and it didn’t have any carbs in it.

Didn’t have any 0, 0, 0 calories. So it must be okay. And we talked a lot about the, how much caffeine is in there and how addictive that can be. How does, like, how does excessive and also I pointed out the fact that those energy drinks have the equivalent of four shots of espresso.

And how she wouldn’t think it was okay to stop at Starbucks and get her son a quad, latte. But the energy drinks, how that thought it was. Okay. So does excessive caffeine intake, does that influence. Nutrient deficiencies, how does that play into, does it play into it?

Nicole Laurent: I know that even someone who is not trained in ketogenic diets has that’s a therapist hopefully knows to ask their anxious client about their coffee, drinking habits. Sometimes we literally just say, don’t do that. And then their anxiety goes down to, less, less or, so there’s that obvious piece.

And I, I don’t, I know that we talked about for caffeine, I don’t know all the biochemistry around caffeine to that degree. I do know that when we use stimulants for ADHD and add those stimulants are famous in the literature for being nutrient dense. So I think anytime you take a pathway and you just try to speed it up.

So somehow I think that there’s an issue potentially with that. And I would be way more interested in knowing why your client’s young person is tired to begin with.

Carole Freeman: And I don’t think it was fatigue is just that those are really popular. They’re marketed towards, teens and twenties, and this was something that they get a high off of it when you consume, when you’re not used to that level of caffeine and you consume that, it’s like super exciting, right?

And so my son is 26 and he’s gone through that where we’ll have a lot of those. That’s very exciting. And then he’ll crash and have chronic headaches, really bad headaches. And so we, we discussed that as well as that may be more of a concern. Th, introducing 300 milligrams of caffeine in a teen is a drug level dose of that.

It is a drug, but it’s a addictive level dose of that type of drug.

Nicole Laurent: So there’s a dopamine chase that kind of happens with that.

Carole Freeman: Yeah. So we talked a w once I told her the equivalent of how many shots of Starbucks that was, she was like, oh, I would never let him have that. Yeah.

So Valerie’s commenting that she’s got both anxiety and migraines and the magnesium part was really interesting to her. And she’s wondering about magnesium supplementation to augment a keto diet. Do you find that. People do well if they, supplement with magnesium or is keto on its own since it’s so sparing for magnesium.

Nicole Laurent: Oh no. I even all my clients that I put on keto always, I tell them to take magnesium. And the thing about migraines. Oh, Angela, her name’s Angela stamps, Stanton, S T a N T O N. I hope I’m doing that. She is a migraine specialist that teaches some of the neurological CMIOs at nutrition network. And she did a specific one about migraines.

So you might want to check out her work, but yes. So magnesium for people who get migraines, magnesium is super impatient. And you want to, don’t be stingy with it. We say 200 to 400 supplement, but I, for people who are trying to heal their brain, I say 600 to 800 milligrams of magnesium.

If you get the poops back off a pill, no big deal, but the other thing that if you have migraines that you have to know that I think would be really helpful is you earn through minerals like a race car, you need salt, you need a lot of salt. You might need up to 13 grams of salt a day. You might need to take an eighth of a teaspoon of salt every two hours and chase it down with some water.

You need electrolytes at a much higher rate than anybody else. And I wish I had known that when I had my migraines cause probably would have helped me a great deal. But but yeah, so magnesium is super important and. Potassium is also important, but I’m not familiar with her exact protocol about how much potassium to add in and under what conditions.

But salt will often salt will often keep a migraine from happening if you get it in there fast enough. So definitely check her workout.

Carole Freeman: That might be you. So I do a ton of salt work with my clients and we’re, titrating that up for a lot of people too. And that may be a big part of why almost everyone that I’ve ever worked with that had a history of migraines when they’re consistent with their keto diet, their migraines go in remission, they completely stopped.

Haven’t needed the mag magnesium supplementation for most of them. And, but we do tons and tons of salt for everybody. So

Nicole Laurent: yeah,

Carole Freeman: absolutely a big part that’s missing. So yeah. All right. And okay. And great question. Thanks Valerie, for participating and being here today. And if anyone else watching has any questions for Nicole, please go ahead and put them in the chat, the word where I’m I’m speaking for her, but I’m sure she’ll be happy to answer questions here.

And oh, you know what, and I’m going to add this in which I skipped over is that this show is meant for educational and entertainment purpose only. And this is not medical advice. It’s not tended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any condition. So a discussion we’re having today is for educational purposes only.

So please seek out care of your own personal healthcare professional. If you have any your own diagnoses and Nicole, do you, are you able to work remotely or are you only with people that live in the state of Washington or I don’t know what your license

Nicole Laurent: is, but, so I do consultation work outside of Washington.

And then in Washington I work as a licensed mental health counselor. So yeah, either way. And and I’m actually starting to, this is helping a lot of people and so I’m actually. Starting to maybe move away from so much individual work. And cause as a lot of your first few conversations about someone moving into keto is you’re saying the same thing over and over again, right?

Yeah. So I’m looking to streamline that a little bit. So I’m currently working specifically on program research and I’m looking for women specifically because they are quite underrepresented in when they go for help with, in the medical system. I’m looking for women who have brains.

And symptoms of brain fog better recurrent or chronic in a way that it either impairs their life or they’re worried it’s going to impair their life. Or they’re like, oh, wait a minute. I used to be way smarter. What’s happening here. Regardless of reason. So regardless of why you think you have your brain fog, whether it’s ADHD or an auto-immune condition or a head injury, or early dementia or whatever I’m wanting to talk to women too, to figure out what their biggest frustrations are about getting treatment, because I want to offer something that uses nutritional and functional psychiatry alongside social supports to make those changes eventually.

Carole Freeman: And we’ll put your contact info up at the end, as well as in the show notes. If anybody’s interested in talking with Nicole and inner you, so you’re just doing some interviews with.

Nicole Laurent: Yeah, like 30 minutes, I’d hop on a zoom or a phone call. And just kinda hearing, because I have my, I know from working with my clients, what I think, but anytime you are a practitioner, you only get a small subset of society, no matter how hard you try to, and so I want hear what some of that is. And I’ve heard some stuff I’ve heard before. I can’t make dietary changes because the people in my household aren’t supportive or I can’t make dietary changes because I don’t know how to cook two dinners. I can’t make dietary changes because they don’t say this, but this is it.

My part of my identity is being a rebel and getting, and that’s how I rebel is I, eat all the things or whatever. And so we got to do some therapy around that kind of thing. There’s other ways to rebel, I promise that feel just as self validating, that don’t harm your health or your.

So there’s all these different kind of factors. And I just want to do a good job of kind of making sure I’m thinking about them all and considering them all when I wrap them in my program.

Carole Freeman: Oh, wow. And that’s really cool. So you’re saying instead of a dietary rebel, why don’t you get some more tattoos and piercings,

Nicole Laurent: maybe I’d rather, yeah.

I’d rather have your brain functioning and got to enjoy the rest of your life than to look like the cool lady who made the suites at the potluck. Or I can’t make dietary changes because I go to these potlucks and all these school events, and there was nothing but pure sugar. And if someone bakes something, I feel bad saying no.

Even though I know that in order to keep my cognitive function and in order to feel good and have good energy, I need to not eat that. And so what is going on that you’re sacrificing your own health for someone else’s interpretation of what it means that you say, no, thank you.

Carole Freeman: Your points there.

Spurred another question from Valerie. She says, what advice do you give your clients? Then I use some of those excuses or reasons you listed for not making changes.

Nicole Laurent: Yeah, so I use some different cognitive behavioral techniques that kind of help help them either clarify their why, which is often really important.

And also they become very active in, so it’s actually called externalization of resistance. It’s a cognitive behavioral therapy technique. I have found by the way, all my mental health stuff, super helpful in helping people transition and stick to things. So externalization of resistance is where.

The clients as well, I don’t want to do this or I need to say, thank you. I really need to try that. And then I will play devil’s advocate and I’ll say out loud Mary, you know that Judy made those brownies and she probably made them for you and you really need to eat them.

And then the client has to argue that down. No, she actually made them for everybody. And I really doubt that she’s made them just for me and well, Mary, you know that she’s going to hate you if you don’t eat that brownie. She’s no, Mary likes me, so like they they there’s different techniques that we use.

That’s one of many

Carole Freeman: really great because the normal thing people want to do. Would be then as a coach, or maybe somebody who’s not as skilled as you in therapy would start to argue with them about why they could write and so much more effective is to get the client, to argue for themselves about the reasons why, and it makes it a little easier to do that when you’re pointing out the obvious, black and white thinking that we do where we think, oh no, they’re going to hate me forever.

And she made these for me and I have to do all those things. So that’s really


Nicole Laurent: Yeah. And also, there is that therapy component of what is going on for you that you feel like you need to sacrifice your health for approval. What is going on for you that you just can’t take up space to say, this is what I need, and I’m going to put that first.

It’s all connected. And that’s why I really like combining it and not just because I think that. I know standard of care is meds and everybody who wants meds, please go get meds. And if meds have helped you, I am so grateful that beds have helped you meds have saved your life. I am so grateful. But in my experience with patients and I’m not a psychiatrist, so I’m not, I’m probably not working with the population whose lives were saved by meds, absolutely. I’m I’m a private practice, pretty high functioning set of people usually to some, with some exceptions here and there. But I have found the ketogenic diet to be more effective than medications. And before I started my blog, I didn’t know why I couldn’t like figure out, like, why would that be?

But then what I’ve learned is that ketogenic diets, because the ketones are signaling molecules and because they have effects in multiple systems, not just neurotransmitter systems, but the inflammation system, like they’re turning off inflammatory pathways on the genetic level as the gene is expressing, right?

And they upregulate glutathione production, like literally adding a well-formulated ketogenic diet to that, where you have all the precursors to make more glutathione that reduces oxidative stress. And they are providing an alternative fuel for a brain that is starving and into distress. That is a multi-level intervention.

That is a multilevel psychiatric intervention. And I am sorry, but I challenge big pharma to create a pill. That’s going to do all of those things. And so in my personal experience, I see it as much more effective than medications. And when I pair it with psychotherapy, I it’s so much easier for people to do their work.

Their brain is working better. They feel better. And when I do challenging cognitive behavioral things, or dialectical behavior challenges or whatever they respond, they just, they flourish. And that’s what I see.

Carole Freeman: As Robb Wolf says, like people have to eat, and so it’s actually one of the least expensive interventions is just to change the food that they’re eating anyways.

Yeah. Yeah. I love your. The therapy techniques of the disconnect when people think they can’t thrive in these situations, the social situations ended up being some of the most challenging. So what would you say about the disconnect? I have a lot of moms that, and grandmothers that they believe that I’m on this special diet, but I don’t want to make my, my kids, my teens, my grandkids, like I want them to have all these special foods.

So I have to have those in the house for them. What kind of techniques or discussions do you have with clients that kind of have that kind of reasoning that disconnect that if it’s poison for them, that it would be poisoned for younger people too?

Nicole Laurent: Yeah. You have to decide if you want to make it a power struggle in your home.

It depends on the ages of your children, for sure. And there’s always the piece where, I have I have adult children who eat the way they want to eat and they don’t restrict carbohydrates or sugar. And I sometimes worry about them for sure. But then I remind myself that if they become chronically ill, they know how to change it.

I’ve modeled it for them. They know they can come to me, they know they can, they know they can heal. And so if, and when they’re ready to make those changes to heal, their body they’ll do that, but they are on their own journey. They came here with their own agenda and their own, their own journey.

And so I have to honor that journey and I’m not willing to turn that into a power struggle or to have them feel judged around that. Now there’s plenty of moms with young children who do have some control over that. I didn’t know about this when my, I had my babies, we were eating fruit roll-ups and juice and I didn’t know did the best I could.

I have taken them through, McDonald’s no clue, all the time. But for some moms who are on the up and know about this and I think it’s a fine time to do great habits. Sometimes I have had sessions where the husband or the wife came to a session and we talked about what was at stake because a lot of times they just don’t understand what’s at stake.

I get, you love your wife and you need your wife to stop the mild cognitive impairment. That’s that is showed up. Now that’s going to turn into dementia, very likely. So if you want to keep your wife and have her be present for you in the marriage, we got to that’s what’s at stake. I don’t think you knew that.

So let me explain why this diet needs to happen. And often having that kind of converse or even debilitating anxiety or debilitating depression or agoraphobia, and they can’t leave the house or they have OCD. Like I know that you want to help your husband. Like I know that you love them and that you are committed.

Let me explain to you why this could be the most important intervention of their life and why, and here’s how you can support you want Twinkies, keep them in your. Eden before you come in the house, don’t bring them in the house. And a lot of more yeah, that’ll work. I’ll just put my junk food at work, so I just really, I think when people are encounter unsupportive environments, they just, they, the people in the family don’t understand what’s at stake. And once you really frame it for them in that way, some of them were like, yeah, I’ll just eat keto with them when I’m home. And yeah. So I think that people don’t necessarily know. And also it depends on the level of carbohydrate addiction. If I have someone who has a really bad carb processed carbohydrate addiction we’ll talk about that. Like it’s an addiction and you wouldn’t keep bourbon in the house for you.

Drinking husband, if you’re trying to finish, stop drinking. Okay. What can you do? So we do it from that, from the trigger standpoint and it just depends what’s going on. Not everybody is at that level of addiction. And they can have some stuff in the house and feel, okay.

Carole Freeman: So true. I found some of my moms want to stay in denial that they’re using it as an excuse. I have to keep those things in the house and then they keep struggling with eating them. And then it turns out when they actually had the discussion with the kids, the teens, the husband, they’re like, oh yeah, no problem.

We don’t need that in the house. And you’re identifying why is that the reason you want to have those there? Yeah.

Nicole Laurent: Yeah. And the other thing that again, it all comes back to the psychology and the taking up space and the healthy boundaries, like I had I had a parent who was wanting to change the diet in the household, around, across the board.

And when we go to the store, they’re gonna want the cocoa puffs or whatever. And I’m like, who’s money is being spent at the store, is that their money, like you are not money. You are the manager and stewardess of that money. You determine what you are going to spend your money on.

You’re the adult of the household. And when that child grows up and becomes an adult, they can certainly buy their own food, or choose what they’re going to, what they’re going to spend their money on. But as the adult, you absolutely have the right to decide what you will buy and not buy. And you have the wisdom to decide what is best to bring him into the house and what isn’t.

And so again, it comes back to healthy boundaries. Healthy sense of self, the ability to take up space, the ability to handle someone being displeased with you for a little while, while they are adjusting. And the other thing is if a mom is going to make that change in the house, those kids are still going to get plenty of processed carbohydrates at school, at sports, at their friend’s house, all that.

It’s not like the child’s going to be denied of all the things, certainly. So it’s really, it’s not a big deal for parents to behave in their integrity and just decide what they’re going to spend their money on and their grocery budget and what that looks like. And hopefully it’s nutrient dense

Carole Freeman: foods.

Yeah. Oh, I love that. I love that. And I love the phrase you said, that are not afraid, but a question you ask about, what’s going on for you that you’re willing to sacrifice your health for approval of others. And that. Not only goes on with adults, but it happens with children, because a lot of moms are afraid that my, my child’s going to be really unhappy with me. They’re going to hate me if I don’t buy the cocoa puffs forum. So therefore I’m willing to sacrifice. I’m willing to make this really hard for myself, a food that I can’t resist. So that’s a great question that I’m going to borrow from you and the other one too, about the taking up space.

So advocating for yourself, we mean by that, right? Like when you say what’s going on that you’re afraid to take up space. So talk about that. What do you see is some of the things that make people afraid to advocate for themselves?

Nicole Laurent: Yeah. Or, yeah, and that, think about turning it into a psychology show.

Sorry. But think about where we first learned that, in order to keep a parent happy, we don’t take up space. We don’t ask for things we don’t. Or punishment for taking up too much space. I want this, I want you shouldn’t want that. You, whatever you think you want is incorrect.

However, you think, oh, your feeling is incorrect. You shouldn’t feel that way. So that invalidation piece. So all of this, all of this goes back to that and they just work beautifully together. The lifestyle changes with the psychological component are really powerful.


Carole Freeman: Love it. Valerie says a comprehensive and helpful answer. Thank you, Nicole. Anything else? We could probably talk for seven hours. We could do a juror Rogan style podcast and go on and on. But yeah. Anything else that you were hoping I would ask about or anything you’d like to share or anything else you want to touch on before we wrap this up?

At least for this episode, I’d love to have you back

Nicole Laurent: again. I want to T so when you talk about keto genic diets, as a treatment for mental illness, you unavoidably, get people who have mental illness who are already on medications, psychiatric medications, or other medications, but I’m speaking mostly about the psychiatric ones.

We all know about the diabetic and the blood pressure medications, and that those need to be carefully monitored by a prescriber and all that. But that’s, I’m not a medical doctor, but, and I’m also not a prescriber in any way, shape or form. But I do want people who are thinking about doing a ketogenic diet to treat their mental illness and are, who are on medications to make sure that they understand something called potentiation effects and potentiation effects are really important because what happens on a ketogenic diet is your brain starts to heal and it starts to work.

And what that means is that whatever your current dosage is of some medications will suddenly be too high and you will start to get weird side effects and you will think, oh my God, it’s this ketogenic diet it’s messing with my brain. But really what is most likely is either your electrolytes are not on, you feel poopy, but more Mo but quite likely as you are developing potentiation effects, which means that you need to go to your prescriber and evaluate your prescriptions with them and possibly discuss titrating down.

Once you titrate down, usually that is better in a couple of days, you’ll be like, oh, that kind of extra anxiety that I had, or that whatever is better. Or w and so if you are going to do this with your, a ketogenic diet for mental illness, before you go in to see your psychiatrist or your prescriber, I want you to Google the side effects of your medications.

I want you to stick them on the fridge. I want you to check for them every day. And usually, within three to six weeks is when we start to see potentiation effects. If they’re maybe going to happen, they might not, but it’s just something I want on people’s radar. I don’t want you doing a ketogenic diet for mental health with if you’re on prescriptions, without the help of a prescriber.

Also there are S sometimes there becomes energy deficits in the brain for whatever reason, there’s tricks and trays, there’s MCT oil, there’s eating extra butter. There’s, we got to keep those ketones nice and high or you can get energy deficits in the brain and you can get an exacerbation of symptoms.

And for some people that just means their anxiety is a little high for other people. And so if you are already on medications and you want to try a ketogenic diet for mental health, you must have a prescriber who is going to work with you and take good care of you because you deserve good medical treatment.

And that is a piece of it. And if you don’t have a prescriber that’s willing to do that, you need to find a low carbon formed prescriber. There’s lots of different provider directories, but have that in place before you go, willy-nilly cutting your carbohydrates all the way down.

Carole Freeman: Love it. So important.

Glad you sh you shared that. So get the right support in place before you endeavor to do this. So well, Nicole, thank you so much for being here. I’ve learned so much. I hope everyone is enjoying this and learned as much as well. And let’s see. So today we’ve been talking with Nicole Laurent, licensed mental health counselor who specializes in.

Ketogenic wait, I got to get the right phrase and therapeutic carbohydrate restriction for mental health. No,

I got to sound fancy

and okay. So how can people get ahold of you? They’d like more information if they’d like to participate in the interviews that you’re doing now, again, that’s women that are experiencing some kind of brain fog.

That’s interfering with the quality of your life. Nicole would love to chat with you. So how can they reach out for that?

Nicole Laurent: So the easiest way to contact me is the contact form at MentalHealthKeto.com. That’s easiest. And then if you want to participate in my program research, I would be so grateful.

I’m trying to get 50 calls. I have 21, the sooner I get those 50 calls done, the sooner I can create something to help people. And yeah, and I’ll send you my Calendly.

Carole Freeman: Wonderful. Thank you again for being here. Thank you everyone for watching the show. And we’ve got another episode coming up next week.

And so if you’re struggling with keto, we’re here to help. If you want help with mental health keto, please visit mental health keto.com. That’s perfect. Naming there. If you’re a lady who’s struggling on keto to get the results that you want and weight loss is your primary goal with that, I’m here to help as well.

So KetoCarole.com and support the show. We’d love to see you leave a review on your podcast platform. If you’re listening on any podcast platform right now, or if you’re on YouTube or Facebook, go ahead and leave a comment. If you’re listening to this in the future and remember help us grow the show and we’ll help you shrink and a different kind of shrink over there and in different kind of shrink here.

Thank you everyone for watching. We’ll see you next time. Bye.

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