The label "ketogenic diet" may be a new one for many people. But it is also a name that could be of great interest for people with epilepsy.
It's a low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein type of diet. When the body burns fat, ketones are formed.
According to Medscape.com, high fat creates ketones. This seems to be what hinders seizures.
In order for the body to burn fat rather than carbohydrates for fuel, carbohydrate content must be kept very low. In that situation, fat is the fuel that the body uses.
The ketogenic diet has three or four units of fat, to each unit of protein and/or carbohydrates. This is called the long-chain triglyceride diet.
The diet is prescribed by a doctor and begun in the hospital, monitored by a dietitian against any increase in seizures.
All medications must be found to be carbohydrate-free. It's important that the families be educated thoroughly concerning this undertaking.
The ketogenic diet is more strict than the modified Atkins diet, which is mentioned below in connection to research. The modified Atkins diet has a one fat to one protein/carbohydrate ratio.
The ketogenic diet has been used for some time for children with epilepsy that won't respond to drugs. It was developed at the Mayo Clinic 90 years ago, according to Medscape.com.
It is less often prescribed for adults because of the perceived difficulty of sticking to the diet. However adults who stay with it may find relief from the frequency of their seizures.
This diet has been seen in five studies to reduce seizures in adults whose epilepsy has been uncontrollable with medication. This was reported on webmd.com.
Study co-author Dr. Pavel Klein said that drugs don't work for 35 percent of those with epilepsy. This was published in a news release from the American Academy of Neurology, according to Medscape as well as Neurology online.
Research in five studies involved 47 people. Participants were on the ketogenic diet, eating food consisting of three or four units of fat to one unit of protein and/or carbohydrates.
In five other studies involving 85 participants, the people ate a modified Atkins diet with a one fat to one protein/carbohydrate ratio.
Of those on the ketogenic diet, 32 percent had at least a 50 percent reduction in seizure frequency. Of those on the modified Atkins diet, 29 percent also had their seizure frequency cut in half or better.
A smaller number from both groups had seizures decrease by 90 percent or more. This happened to 9 percent on the ketogenic diet and to 5 percent on the modified Atkins diet according to Neurology online.
Results had occurred within days or weeks of the diet changes. As long as the participants stayed with the diet, their seizure improvements continued.
Interested in learning more about the ketogenic diet?
The Epilespy Foundation recommends a book written by Dr. Freeman and Dr. Kossoff called "The Ketogenic Diet: A Treatment for Children and Others with Epilepsy". The book discusses the Johns Hopkins approach and experience.
This Diet May Help With Tough-to-Treat Epilepsy. WebMD.com. Retrieved Nov. 18, 2014.
What is the ketogenic diet? Epilepsy.com. Retrieved Nov. 18, 2014.
The Ketogenic Diet for Adults With Epilepsy. Medscape.com. Retrieved Nov. 18, 2014.
Visit Jody's website at http://www.ncubator.ca
Reviewed November 19, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN