The Ketogenic Diet and Epilepsy

The Ketogenic Diet and Epilepsy

The Ketogenic Diet and Epilepsy

What is the ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet consists of minimal carbohydrate and protein and high levels of fats. This shift in macronutrient status changes the way the body and the brain is fuelled.

The body produces ketones and these are used to create energy rather than glucose from carbohydrates. Ketogenic diets are carefully calculated to include 3-4 grams of fat for every gram of carbohydrate or protein.

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This is what is required to obtain and maintain a state of ketosis.

Who is it for?

The ketogenic diet has been used for children with epilepsy that have not had seizure reduction on two or more medications. Adults can use the diet too and this has become a popular approach in recent years.

The ketogenic diet is a medication-free way of controlling seizures and should be given serious consideration in all cases of epilepsy. It has also been used for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and brain tumours and further research is being undertaken in these areas.

How effective is it?

Pretty effective, it seems.

Most children who try the ketogenic diet do so because they have intractable seizures, these are the more difficult cases that medication can’t control. Over half the children who try the diet have a reduction in seizures, some become seizure free.

There are issues with compliance as the diet is difficult to follow and just one infraction can impact progress.

Are there any negative effects?

The Ketogenic Diet and Epilepsy

In the short term as the body adjusts to processing a different energy source there can be some fatigue or lethargy.

Some studies have shown that growth may slow temporarily for children whilst on the diet and blood lipid profiles change somewhat. The diet can be modified to avoid these issues which is why it’s important to work with a dietician or nutrition professional when implementing it.

How does it control seizures?

This is the big question that nobody seems to be able to answer.

It is suggested that the dietary shift changes metabolism and possibly gene expression and this is how the ketogenic diet exerts its effect.

My theory is that lowering carbohydrate intake fundamentally changes the gut flora. This change is a positive one and explains why the benefits of a ketogenic diet continue after transitioning onto a standard diet.

Altered gut flora exerts its effect on the brain via the vagus nerve and could play a role is the development of seizures.

If this is the case, then it explains why diets with a slightly higher carbohydrate intake than the ketogenic diet – modified Atkins and GAPS protocol (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) also show positive results for seizure control.

Dr Natasha Campbell McBride believes seizures are a result of toxicity in the body and this stems from gut dysbiosis, addressing this through dietary protocols can control seizures.

The ketogenic diet is a tried and tested protocol for epilepsy

It is a difficult protocol to implement but support is available and, if the result is reduction in seizures, then it is worth a try.

There are also other protocols, such as GAPS that may be relevant.

Talk to a Nutrition Practitioner to find out what approach might help you or your child.

What is the ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet consists of minimal carbohydrate and protein and high levels of fats. This shift in macronutrient status changes the way the body and the brain is fuelled.

The body produces ketones and these are used to create energy rather than glucose from carbohydrates. Ketogenic diets are carefully calculated to include 3-4 grams of fat for every gram of carbohydrate or protein.

RELATED:

This is what is required to obtain and maintain a state of ketosis.

Who is it for?

The ketogenic diet has been used for children with epilepsy that have not had seizure reduction on two or more medications. Adults can use the diet too and this has become a popular approach in recent years.

The ketogenic diet is a medication-free way of controlling seizures and should be given serious consideration in all cases of epilepsy. It has also been used for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and brain tumours and further research is being undertaken in these areas.

How effective is it?

Pretty effective, it seems.

Most children who try the ketogenic diet do so because they have intractable seizures, these are the more difficult cases that medication can’t control. Over half the children who try the diet have a reduction in seizures, some become seizure free.

There are issues with compliance as the diet is difficult to follow and just one infraction can impact progress.

Are there any negative effects?

The Ketogenic Diet and Epilepsy

In the short term as the body adjusts to processing a different energy source there can be some fatigue or lethargy.

Some studies have shown that growth may slow temporarily for children whilst on the diet and blood lipid profiles change somewhat. The diet can be modified to avoid these issues which is why it’s important to work with a dietician or nutrition professional when implementing it.

How does it control seizures?

This is the big question that nobody seems to be able to answer.

It is suggested that the dietary shift changes metabolism and possibly gene expression and this is how the ketogenic diet exerts its effect.

My theory is that lowering carbohydrate intake fundamentally changes the gut flora. This change is a positive one and explains why the benefits of a ketogenic diet continue after transitioning onto a standard diet.

Altered gut flora exerts its effect on the brain via the vagus nerve and could play a role is the development of seizures.

If this is the case, then it explains why diets with a slightly higher carbohydrate intake than the ketogenic diet – modified Atkins and GAPS protocol (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) also show positive results for seizure control.

Dr Natasha Campbell McBride believes seizures are a result of toxicity in the body and this stems from gut dysbiosis, addressing this through dietary protocols can control seizures.

The ketogenic diet is a tried and tested protocol for epilepsy

It is a difficult protocol to implement but support is available and, if the result is reduction in seizures, then it is worth a try.

There are also other protocols, such as GAPS that may be relevant.

Talk to a Nutrition Practitioner to find out what approach might help you or your child.

Connect with Expert Sarah Hanratty