It has long been established that eating the right food can be good for the health. A new study, however, shows that following a certain diet can be even more effective in controlling seizures when epilepsy medication doesn't help.
It's known as the ketogenic diet and it calls for consuming high levels of fat and little carbs and protein. Think heavy cream, eggs, mayonnaise, butter, and bacon. It requires up to 90 percent of the diet to come from fat, which is sometimes unattainable for people. Alternatively, a modified Atkins diet may be adopted, translating to 65 to 70 percent fat.
A study published in the journal Neurology reviewed five researchers carried out on the ketogenic diet and five on the modified Atkins diet, assessing 132 subjects in total.
Across all the studies, researchers found out that 32 percent of those on ketogenic diets and 29 percent of those on modified Atkins diets registered a reduction of at least 50 percent with their seizures.
For 9 percent from the ketogenic group and 5 percent from the modified Atkins group, however, at least 90 percent less seizures were enjoyed.
The positive effects of the diets are also quickly felt, some just within days of switching. These effects lasted but only when adult subjects stuck to their recommended diets. For children, the results of eating ketogenic or modified Atkins diets persisted even though they stopped following what was prescribed to them.
Since the diets were difficult to maintain, 51 percent of those on the ketogenic diet and 42 percent of those on the modified Atkins diet gave up before the end of the study.
"Unfortunately, long-term use of these diets is low because they are so limited and complicated. Most people eventually stop the diet because of the culinary and social restrictions. However, these studies show the diets are moderately to very effective as another option for people with epilepsy," concluded Pavel Klein, M.B., B. Chir., the study's author, American Academy of Neurology member, and part of the Mid-Atlantic Epilepsy and Sleep Center.
The ketogenic diet works by placing the body in a state of "fasting" or ketosis. When a person is fasting, the body looks for fuel, tapping into fat stores. With a ketogenic diet, however, the body turns to dietary fat for energy, not fat stored. As a last-resort option, the diet is recommended to patients who responded unsuccessfully to two or three prescriptions for epilepsy.