Keto-control Diet Therapies for Epilepsy
The MUSC Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet (KD) is a medical treatment for epilepsy that has been used for many years. When you are on the Keto Diet you eat a lot of fat, some protein, and almost no carbohydrates. The food must be weighed on a special scale and there is no cheating allowed! The diet is no harder to learn than other diets like Weight Watchers, but it requires a lot of hard work and preparation in advance. How the KD works is still not totally understood. The diet helps the body learn to use ketones (fat by-products) instead of glucose (sugar by-products) as its source of energy. This makes it harder for the brain to have seizures as it increases the seizure threshold. Many persons with epilepsy on the diet or their family members talk about how much the Keto Diet improves their quality of life.
The Keto Diet requires at least a 6 month commitment as it can take that long to make adjustments needed for best results. Research has shown that 1/3rd of persons on the diet experience very good results, 1/3rd experience some benefit, and 1/3rd experience no benefit or find the diet too hard to stay on. Many times once the Keto Diet is started antiepileptic medications can be decreased in amount or discontinued. Once a person is seizure free on the Keto Diet for 2 years, the Keto Diet can be weaned in steps to a regular diet. The Keto Diet also includes various vitamin and mineral supplements needed to make sure the body gets the best nutrition it can. A typical meal could be a small amount of scrambled eggs, 2 pieces of bacon and some cream cheese. If a person with epilepsy has a feeding tube, the KD can be used in formula as well. There is also a less strict version of the Keto Diet that some persons like to try before beginning the more restrictive version or as part of their total treatment plan with medication. The Keto Diet requires a specially trained dietitian, epilepsy nurse and epilepsy practitioner to work with the person with epilepsy and their family.
Modified Atkins Diet for Epilepsy (MADE):
- MADE has been designed for seizure control with a lower carbohydrate limit and emphasis on high amounts of fat.
Low Glycemic Index Treatment (LGIT):
- The LGIT focuses on the type of carbohydrates in the diet limiting to carbohydrates with a glycemic index of 50 or less. This allows for a few more carbohydrate foods.
Nutrition Services at MUSC can help you create an individualized diet plan.
Diet therapies for epilepsy are medical therapy and should never be started without a dietitian's guidance and your health care team's approval.