EPILEPSY AND A KETOGENIC DIET

Epilepsy is a common neurologic disease, regularly treated with antiepileptic medication. However, recent literature has indicated that antiepileptic medication is largely ineffective in adequately controlling epilepsy in approximately 30 percent of patients. This being so, scientists have looked to identify strategies that may prove beneficial in controlling difficult to control epilepsy. One strategy that has been given extensive scholarly attention is the ketogenic diet, a high fat, low protein, low carbohydrate diet. To date, the majority of literature available has examined the role a ketogenic diet can play in reducing episodes of epilepsy in children. For example, high quality, scientific evidence shows that during treatment with a ketogenic diet, 3 to 33 percent of children become seizure free. Moreover, 7 to 56 percent of patients experienced a seizure reduction greater than 90 percent, while 19 to 38 percent of patients experienced a reduction of 50 to 90 percent.

Reinforcing the foregoing statistical evidence is a recent study undertaken by neurologists at the Institute of Child Health, London. In this study, researchers demonstrated that in a population of 145 children diagnosed with epilepsy, patients consuming a ketogenic diet (72 of the 145) experienced a 38 percent mean reduction in seizure frequency. Now at first glance this may appear relatively insignificant, however, when we consider that the 73 children consuming a non-ketogenic diet experienced a 37 percent increase in seizure frequency we can begin to appreciate the potential role a ketogenic diet can play in the management of epilepsy.

At this point, the exact mechanism underlying why the ketogenic diet is beneficial in controlling epilepsy is unknown.

Before undertaking this strategy, I strongly recommend you discuss the introduction and cessation of a ketogenic diet with a qualified health care professional.

 

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