Principles of the Keto Diet Have Been Used to Treat Epilepsy for Centuries, Does It Actually Work? - Deepstash

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The Keto diet is named after ketones

The Keto diet is named after ketones

Ketones are products of the fat metabolism that occurs when the body is running low on carbohydrates and proteins as sources of energy.

Ketones can cross the blood-brain barrier and act as a substitute for glucose to supply the brain with essential energy.

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Treating epilepsy with fasting or diet

Fasting was the only method of treating seizures in the past as recorded by Hippocrates.

Only in 1921, Dr Russel Wilder of the Mayo Clinic proposed that ketone production occurring in the fasting state could also be achieved through a diet high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbohydrates.

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Modern versions of the ketogenic diet

Modern versions of the ketogenic diet

  • The classic ketogenic diet. 80% to 90% of calories come from fat, 10% from protein, and the rest are from carbohydrates such as fruits or vegetables.
  • The medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) diet. The diet uses MCT oils naturally found in palm and coconut oil as well as human, cow, and goat milk. This diet allows for a bit more carbohydrates.
  • The Atkins diet is less restrictive but has a greater likelihood of adherence by adolescents and adults.
  • The low glycemic index diet allows for more carbohydrates as long as they have a low glycemic index, meaning they don't raise the body's blood sugar too quickly. Foods well suited to this diet includes strawberries, lentils, and whole-grain breads.

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How the keto diet works for epilepsy in general

Analyzed studies show that children with epilepsy who adhere to a ketogenic diet were three times more likely to be seizure-free and six times more likely to have a 50% reduction in seizure frequency when compared to usual dietary care.

Despite strong evidence of its efficacy, a mechanism to clearly explain the keto diet's benefit remains unclear to researchers.

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The keto diet and medical conditions

The keto diet and medical conditions

The ketogenic diet is becoming a proven treatment for epilepsy. But there is also evidence that it may be helpful for other medical conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and glioblastoma multiforme, a type of aggressive brain cancer. Conditions such as metabolic syndrome, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity, chronic migraines, traumatic brain injury, dementia, Parkinson's, autoimmune disorder, mental health, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and much more are anecdotally benefiting from the ketogenic diet.

However, caution is advised. Side effects include kidney stones, low bone density, weight loss, low blood sugar, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Certain rare metabolic disorders can be made worse on this diet.

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