Is it true that the ketogenic diet can prevent epilepsy from recurring?

A Detailed Beginner’s Guide to Keto

Epilepsy or epilepsy causes the body to spasm and lose consciousness which can appear at any time. Fortunately, these symptoms can be reduced in frequency by taking medication. In addition, health experts also ask epilepsy patients to undergo a ketogenic diet so that treatment becomes more effective. However, is it really effective? So, how to guide to this diet? Curious about the answer? Let’s see the following review.

Ketogenic diet section of care for epilepsy patients

Seizures that are symptoms of epilepsy can occur more than once. Some sufferers may lose consciousness completely when these symptoms last. However, for certain types of epilepsy, the seizure symptoms that appear may be so brief that sometimes the sufferer does not realize it.

Well, the right way to reduce the frequency of seizures and other epilepsy symptoms is to require the patient to take antiepileptic drugs. Examples of drugs used include sodium valproate, carbamazepine, lamotrigine, levetiracetam, or topiramate. Unfortunately, not all patients respond to these drugs.

If this happens, doctors will usually ask epilepsy patients to undergo therapy, one of which is the ketogenic diet. Marcelo Campos, MD, of Harvard Health Publishing says that the ketogenic diet has been used for a long time to treat epilepsy for drug-resistant patients, especially children. This diet is also an alternative treatment for patients who cannot undergo epilepsy surgery.

How effective is the ketogenic diet for epilepsy patients?

Without treatment, incurable epilepsy can be life-threatening. This condition can cause complications in the form of brain damage or sudden death.

That is why, if the patient does not respond to epilepsy treatment, doctors will recommend a ketogenic diet therapy. The ketogenic diet itself is a low-carb but high-fat diet. In this diet, the main source of energy which usually comes from carbohydrates is converted into fat.

This condition causes ketosis, which is a condition where the body lacks carbohydrates as energy fuel. A lack of carbohydrates makes glucose levels drop so the body begins to break down fat to be used as energy. This process then produces ketones. The more fat you use, the more ketones you produce.

According to a 2019 study in the journal Frontiers in neuroscience, research shows that more than 70% of epilepsy patients benefit from this diet. The benefit is that the frequency of epilepsy symptoms, such as seizures, can be reduced.

The mechanism of the benefits of the ketogenic diet for epilepsy patients is not known with certainty. However, some theories suggest that seizures are less likely due to metabolic changes in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid when dieting is performed. Another theory states that the results of ketones produced when dieting can help normalize the brain’s electrical activity.

Guide to the ketogenic diet for epilepsy patients

Despite showing benefits, not all epilepsy patients successfully undergo this diet therapy. For example, people with eating disorders or conditions that can cause problems if they eat high amounts of the diet may not be advised to go on a keto diet. Likewise in epilepsy patients with a pancreatic disease, liver problems, thyroid disorders, and who do not have a gallbladder.

So that you don’t take the wrong steps, follow some of the guidelines for following the keto diet for epilepsy sufferers.

1. Follow the rules of the keto diet correctly

The ketogenic diet is applied to epilepsy patients with a rule of 70% to 80% fat, 20% protein, and 5% to 10% carbohydrates.

Under normal circumstances, fat is only needed about 25-40% of caloric needs per day. Meanwhile, in children with epilepsy, the provision of fat in a day can reach 80-90% of their needs.

Of course, because it is low in carbohydrates, foods for epilepsy patients such as rice, corn, or potatoes, are no longer in the diet. Instead, children with epilepsy will be given full-fat side dishes. This usually includes lots of meat, eggs, sausage, cheese, fish, nuts, butter, oil, whole grains, and fibrous vegetables.

2. The application of the diet must be supervised by a doctor or nutritionist

The application of the ketogenic diet for epilepsy patients should be carried out under the supervision of a nutritionist. The reason is, the calculation of nutrients in this diet must be done correctly. Moreover, if the patient has allergies to certain foods, the doctor or nutritionist will help determine food choices that are safe for consumption.

Not only children, this diet can also be applied to babies. It’s just that the process of applying the diet must be closely monitored. First, your little one will give you sugar-free liquids. Within 24 hours, a new diet begins.

Blood sugar will be closely monitored in the first 48 hours after starting the diet and hypoglycemia may occur during starting the keto diet. The need for supplements, such as calcium and vitamins will also be met during the monitoring process.

Side effects of the ketogenic diet in patients with epilepsy

Following this diet makes the patient not eat an unbalanced diet. As a result, there will be side effects that may occur. Some of the side effects that may be experienced include:

1. Low bone density, so you are at risk for fractures.
2. Constipation (difficult bowel movements) due to lack of fiber intake from fruits and vegetables.
3. Have high cholesterol levels.
4. Stomachache, headache, fatigue, and dizziness. This condition is known as the “keto flu”.
5. Having trouble sleeping.
6. You don’t gain weight, or you lose weight.
7. Children’s growth is slower than children their age.
8. At risk for kidney stones.

The existence of these side effects, makes doctors or health professionals need to evaluate and consider which ones have many benefits or side effects.

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