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ketogenic diet effectiveness against epilepsy

Ketogenic Diet for Epilepsy: Principle, Benefits, Side Effects

By On 27/01/2020

Ketogenic diet - the principle of nutrition, which is based on a certain ratio of proteins, fats and carbohydrates consumed in food. It appeared in the first half of the 20th century - doctors noticed that the predominance of fatty foods in the diet reduces the frequency of seizures in children with epilepsy in almost 90% of cases. Anticonvulsant therapy was not yet developed at this time and “fatty” foods have become one of the effective means of combating the disease.

A therapeutic regimen based on this principle was developed in the 20s of the 20th century in the United States. This is a special diet for the patient, based on fat. Protein with such a diet should be consumed in moderation by the patient, and carbohydrate intake should be minimized.

The advent of seizure-relieving drugs put medical nutrition in the background until the turn of the century when a famous Hollywood director began using it for his child, which had many effects. serious secondary 2.

This diet is not without its side effects, so it is very important to educate yourself well when considering a ketogenic diet. Do not attempt the ketogenic diet without medical supervision of a properly trained ketogenic diet team especially if you are taking anti-epileptic drugs. This ketogenic diet team includes a neurologist, registered dietitian and nurse, and sometimes a nurse practitioner, pharmacist, social worker, and other specialists.



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The principle of the diet is as follows: the body uses carbohydrates as the main "fuel" of the brain. With a sharp reduction in carbohydrates in the diet below 20 grams per day, the amount of glucose is significantly reduced - and there is not enough energy for normal function and fat oxidation. To nourish the brain, the body begins the process of obtaining alternative energy. This is the process of breaking down fat in the body resulting in the formation of ketones , which are used as alternative energy.

In the usual state, the concentration of ketone bodies in the blood is very low, since they are replaced by glucose, and the body does not need additional energy. During ketosis, the concentration of ketone bodies increases sharply.

The state of ketosis can also be achieved by going on a full hunger strike for several days, but this is an extremely dangerous way. The keto diet is an alternative to a full hunger strike, allowing you to do less damage to the body. With nutrition, we continue to receive all the necessary substances and are not hungry except for carbohydrates and forcing the body to start the process of splitting fat.





A ketogenic diet for epilepsy in children is considered a fairly safe and effective treatment method with few side effects. Side effects mainly occur when the patient does not fully follow the prescribed instructions. For example, cases of kidney stone formation, decreased immune functions, and decreased blood sugar levels in patients adhering to this diet have been identified.

It is important to understand that a ketogenic diet, like most others, cannot be of full benefit because the body cannot receive enough of all the nutrients it needs. However, under the supervision of specialists, the patient can qualitatively improve his state of health, the main thing is compliance with all prescribed rules, patience and the desire to achieve a result.

During a week of nutritional restrictions, there are no serious consequences for the body, but with a long diet, a lack of nutrients begins to be felt.

In order to replenish it, doctors in specific cases advise patients to consume a sufficient amount of products containing folic acid (raw or minimally processed fruits and vegetables), calcium and magnesium (dairy products), vitamin B12 (the greatest amount is found in beef liver), vitamin K (grains and green leafy vegetables) and vitamin D (fish and fish oil). However, these recommendations can only be given taking into account the individual characteristics of the patient's body. Therefore, only the attending physician and a qualified nutritionist should prescribe a diet.

As a side effect in a child following such a diet, a delay in physical development may occur. In this case, it must be adjusted.

In children and adults, disturbances of the digestive tract, the occurrence of hypoglycemia, dyslipidemia, changes in the cardiovascular system and disturbances in mineral metabolism are possible. As a rule, all of these phenomena are temporary, when you adjust the diet, they disappear. According to some reports, only in 8.5% of cases does the diet need to be canceled due to side effects.

It should be understood that such a diet can cause a feeling of discomfort, especially at first (due to a feeling of hunger in the first 1-2 weeks, strict regulation of the amount of food eaten, need for a food diary). That is why it is necessary that the patient and the whole family are sufficiently motivated to follow strict rules, adherence to which can help achieve good results.1 Adults can more easily maintain a diet, but this gives better results in children.

When compiling the diet of a patient with epilepsy, the following factors are taken into account: age, weight, height, level of physical activity, body mass index and other individual characteristics of the body. The abundance of food currently allows you to diversify the diet, which makes it easier to follow a diet.





Carbohydrates are completely excluded from food. And that means you can't have anything sweet, grains, fruits, pastries, starches, or sweet vegetables (like beets, carrots, potatoes). You can only green vegetables, but even when eaten, the amount of carbohydrates should not exceed 20-50 grams per day. If you sometimes break down and eat a few carbs, a sharp rise in blood sugar will continue and there will be no smooth transition of the body to alternative energy and the start of the ketosis process, as the body will still be waiting for the carbs. usual.




Excluding carbohydrates from the diet does not allow the body to use substances as usual: putting fat “in reserve” and using carbohydrates as main energy. Thus, the body switches to using energy from fat, which starts the process of ketosis. Foods high in calories saturate and help prevent blackouts. There is no such thing as severe hunger, because there are no sudden jumps in blood sugar.




The keto diet is a pretty extreme diet. The refusal of carbohydrates threatens blackouts on poor diet, headaches, weakness, chills. With a rapid transition to a keto diet, an exacerbation of pancreatitis and other health issues can arise. A consultation with the doctor is necessary.

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