A study published in the journal Neurology has revealed that a diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates can reduce seizures in adults with hard to treat epilepsy. Approximately 50 million people globally are impacted by epilepsy.
“We need new treatments for the 35 percent of people with epilepsy whose seizures are not stopped by medications,” said study author Pavel Klein, M.B.,B. Chir., of the Mid-Atlantic Epilepsy and Sleep Center in Bethesda, Md., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “The ketogenic diet is often used in children, but little research has been done on how effective it is in adults.”
The study consisted of a review of five studies where a ketogenic diet and modified atkins diet was used to treat epilepsy. The ketogenic and modified Atkins diets include items such as bacon, eggs, heavy cream, butter, leafy green vegetables and fish. The ketogenic diet consists of a ratio of fat to protein/carbohydrates of three or four to one by weight. The modified Atkins diet has a one-to-one fat to carbohydrate/protein ratio by weight.
It was determined that across all studies, 32 percent of people treated with the ketogenic diet and 29 percent of those treated with the modified Atkins diet experienced a 50 percent or better reduction in their seizures. Nine percent in the ketogenic treatment group and 5 percent in the modified Atkins group had a greater than 90 percent reduction in seizures.
“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,” said Klein. “However, these studies show the diets are moderately to very effective as another option for people with epilepsy.”
Pavel Klein, Ivana Tyrlikova, and Gregory C. Mathews. Dietary treatment in adults with refractory epilepsy: A review. Neurology, October 2014 DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000001004