Can a Ketogenic Diet Help Seizures?
Last updated on March 23, 2023
Firstly what is a ketogenic diet and how could it possibly benefit people with seizures? Simply put a ketogenic diet is a very high fat, moderate protein and very low carbohydrate diet. This type of diet depletes the body of stored carbohydrates (known as glycogen) and forces the body to break down fat to produce something called a ketone. Biochemically speaking it mimics the conditions of fasting or starvation. The beneficial effects of fasting on seizure activity have been known since the time of Hippocrates. However, fasting could not be sustained indefinitely. In 1921 Dr. Wilder at the Mayo Clinic proposed that a diet high in fat and resulting in ketonemia might be beneficial at preventing seizure activity and named it the Ketogenic Diet.
There are 5 recognised effects that the ketogenic diet has on seizure activity in the scientific literature.
- Gut Microbiota regulation- people with drug-resistant epilepsy show altered intestinal microflora or gut dysbiosis. A ketogenic diet can improve this.
- Increased expression of energy metabolism genes- Long-term ketogenic diets have been shown to improve the expression of energy metabolism genes, improve mitochondrial production and density and increase energy reserves
- Decreased inflammation- a ketogenic state expresses certain anti-inflammatory genes like the Sirtuin family
- Decrease in inhibition apoptotic factors- improving the body’s ability to remove damaged cells
- Improved neurotransmitter control- such as GABA, etc.
Roughly ⅓ of patients with epilepsy have been demonstrated to be able to completely resolve their episodes when following a very strict ketogenic diet. Another ⅓ have shown improvement but not total resolution, while the last ⅓ showed no improvement. There have been many ideas around why that is, but there is no clear consensus.
So where to from here?
- Always remember your Central Nervous system is your master control system. Make sure to get your spine and nerve system checked by a qualified Chiropractor.
- Discuss a ketogenic approach with your specialist. If they are unwilling to have the conversation, get a second opinion.
- Begin following a well-formulated ketogenic diet to improve your overall health. A well-formulated ketogenic diet can be a healthy choice for most people.
- Always focus on improving your overall health and allow your body to express its highest self.
Yours in Health