What You Need to Know:
The ketogenic diet has surfaced recently as a popular weight loss plan; however, it has been used therapeutically to help treat children with intractable epilepsy since the 1920s. Metabolic dysregulation is an underlying characteristic of epilepsy which is why the number of seizures may decrease when this diet is rigidly followed. The exact mechanism for how the ketogenic diet decreases seizure activity is not understood.
The ketogenic diet is low in carbohydrates, high in fat, and adequate in protein. The intake of these three types of foods in their recommended quantities changes the way energy is used by the body. Dietary fats are converted into fatty acids and ketones in the liver, which causes an elevation of ketones in the bloodstream known as ketosis. Ketosis can be achieved not only by eating a prescribed combination of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, but also through intermittent fasting. When the timeframe for eating within a 24-hour period is restricted to a narrow window, the body consumes energy from its fat stores instead of dietary calories.
It is important that patients on the ketogenic diet be monitored closely by a dietician to ensure adequate vitamins and minerals are being consumed. Patients following a ketogenic diet for anticonvulsant benefits must be warned against abrupt withdrawal of this diet as it may trigger seizures.
Read more about the ketogenic diet:
Adams and Victor’s Principles of Neurology, 10e: Chapter 16. Epilepsy and Other Seizure Disorders
CURRENT Diagnosis and Treatment Pediatrics, 24e: Chapter 25. Neurologic & Muscular Disorders