Thursday, March 21

What Is the Ketogenic Diet for Epilepsy?

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What if I tell you that the solution to your child’s epilepsy can be a diet full of butter, cream, oils, and mayo? It might sound bizarre and maybe not so tempting but the ketogenic diet is for real. And in many epilepsy cases, it works.

But the extremely high-fat, very low-carb ketogenic diet is not meant for everyone. It’s somewhat strict and complex. And it might not be termed “healthy” in the layman sense. If you’re taking this diet into consideration, you need to think through how it will affect your child’s life.

Who Should Think About Trying the Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet has been treating seizures since it was first discovered in the 1920s. About 50 percent of kids who follow it have seen a huge drop in the number of daily seizures they get. At least 1 in 7 stopped having seizures completely.

The diet is helpful in many kinds of epilepsy but works particularly well with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, myoclonic astatic epilepsy (Doose syndrome), and others. It is very much helpful to people of any age, but it’s typically used in children’s cases. That too because teens and adults find it very difficult to follow it.

Because the ketogenic diet is so challenging, doctors typically only advise it if a child has already tried two or three medications and they failed to work.

When the diet starts working, kids can often cut down their medication doses or stop taking them at all. What’s more, large number kids who followed the ketogenic diet rigorously for minimum 2 years have become seizure-free even after they switched back to eating normally.


What Foods Can Your Child Eat?

Your child’s diet will have a plenty of fat. To make it clearer, a normal healthy diet consists of 25-40% Fat. The ketogenic diet consists of about 80-90% Fat.

So your child’s meals will be loaded with fats with a moderate amount of protein and very small amount of carbs.

What does that mean in practice?  It means No more bread, pasta, sweets, cookies etc in the menu.


How Does It Work?

Even though it’s been around for about a decade, we still don’t know for sure. Several experts agree that it had to do with a process called ketosis. That’s where the diet’s name originated from. Ketosis takes place when your body is devoid of carbohydrates to burn for calories and is forced to burn fat instead.

But now several experts aren’t confident if ketosis has anything to do with why the diet works. It may be linked to some other process which we don’t understand yet.

What to Expect

The ketogenic diet is not something you try out offhandedly. It’s a huge commitment, and starting it on your own can be quite risky. You and your child need to work closely with expert physicians.

Prepare for a few days to admit your child to the hospital. Doctors often want to keep a close watch on kids when they start the diet to make sure everything is working as planned.


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