The Keto Diet: How It Helps Control Epilepsy

The ketogenic diet has been used to reduce seizures since the 1920s, and is a special high-fat, low-carb diet that helps control seizures in some people with epilepsy. When the body is forced to use fat as energy due to the lower amount of carbohydrates or sugars, ketones are produced. These ketones, which the brain can use as an alternative source of energy, have an anti-epileptic effect on the brain. This can lead to better control of seizures.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University studied 150 children with epilepsy in a major study and found that after one year of following the ketogenic diet, half of the kids had 50% fewer seizures and a quarter of them reduced their seizures by 90%.The ketogenic diet is a treatment option for children or adults with epilepsy whose seizures are not controlled by AEDs. It is usually used in children with seizures who do not respond to medications and is stricter than the modified Atkins diet, requiring careful measurements of calories, fluids and proteins. Evidence suggests that it may reduce the frequency of seizures, and that some people with epilepsy who follow the diet stop having seizures altogether. The Charlie Foundation for Ketogenic Therapies is a leading resource for the ketogenic diet in epilepsy. The various types of ketogenic diets have been used for years and have been studied in people with epilepsy who have failed to control seizures with anti-seizure medications.

Synaptic stabilization induced by KD is further related to changes in critical amino acids as a result of ketone metabolism. Because of this, people who follow the MCT diet can incorporate more protein and carbohydrates into their diet compared to the classic KD diet. At the same time, it is important to encourage patients and families to continue the diet during this period without changing medication. In addition to informational videos and graphics, their website has resources to help people with epilepsy find the right diet for them, as well as tools to help them manage their diet. Under the strict supervision of a doctor, a formula-only ketogenic diet can help control seizures in infants. The mechanism by which seizures are controlled is not well understood, but both the low-sugar component and the high-fat component uniquely alter the “excitability” of the brain, thus reducing the tendency to generate seizures.

There have also been a couple of very interesting studies recently that examined how the ketogenic diet can alter the gut microbiome, the trillions of microorganisms that inhabit the digestive tract. Young people may prefer LGIT because it is more tolerable compared to other versions of KD, although it produces a lower level of ketosis. For its effectiveness, KD requires a period of at least 3 months from the time the patient reaches ketosis.

Bruce Chen
Bruce Chen

Medical & health reporter. Award-winning internet evangelist. Embraced the low-carb keto diet and lost 9 pounds.