Why ketogenic diet for epilepsy? Epilepsy is a disease in which people suffer seizures repeatedly. This disease can affect anyone, although it generally occurs since childhood. The cause may be unknown (possibly hereditary) and known (severe head injury, brain tumor, or stroke).
Symptoms of epilepsy are characterized by sudden seizures, abnormal memories, facial muscles twisting, and blurred vision. One treatment that can be done is to undergo a low-carbohydrate diet and high fat, namely keto diet. Actually, this is not new in the world of epilepsy. Treatment of seizures in this disease can be done by undergoing keto diet.
Why Ketogenic Diet for Epilepsy? How It Works?
Keto diet has been an effective treatment to reduce the symptoms of epilepsy since 1920. Since the beginning of this diet is intended for the treatment of epilepsy disease before now more popular for weight loss. This diet was developed by medical experts at Johns Hopkins and performed on children with epilepsy to know its effect on seizure symptoms. Non-pharmacological treatment is only done after treatment with anti-convulsive drugs do not work.
So far, keto diet has succeeded in decreasing symptoms of seizures in children by 50%, even in some children can reach a decrease of up to 90%. Adults can also use this diet to treat epilepsy, but it still takes a lot of research to know the impact and results for adults. Currently, epilepsy treatment with keto diet for adults is only available in some clinics in the UK.
How does keto diet work in treating epilepsy?
Usually, the body uses glucose as a source of energy for the body’s cells and brain. When no glucose can be used as energy, the body will use fat and convert it into ketone compounds to be used as an energy source (ketosis). Thus, the role of glucose will be replaced by ketones. This keto diet also produces another chemical, namely decanoic acid, which can help reduce seizures in some people.
During a keto diet, doctors and dieticians will monitor the growth of children (who include height and weight), health, their epilepsy development, and the need for drug change if necessary. Parents will be given a diary to record the number and type of seizures suffered by children during the keto diet. Since food can affect the feelings and actions of children, parents need to keep track of any changes in the mood, vigilance, and behavior of the child as a whole. It generally takes three months to see if the diet is effective in reducing seizures in children. why ketogenic diet for epilepsy? If effective, diet can be continued until the child is free from seizures and diet slowly can be stopped after two years.
Kinds Of Keto Diet For Epilepsy
Keto diet which initially there is only one, now developed and emerging three types of new keto diet that have been modified. Even so, everything still refers to a low intake of carbohydrates and high fat.
- Classical ketogenic diet
During a classic ketogenic diet, most of the fat consumed comes from cream, butter, oil and other natural fatty foods. Including a little carbohydrate and protein. Each meal requires a strictly measured ratio of fats and carbohydrates.
- MCT Diet
The difference with the classic ketogenic diet is that the MCT diet allows the child to consume more carbohydrates and protein, thus offering more variety of food. Includes some fat from natural fatty foods, as well as some fat from MCT oil supplements. It can be mixed with food or milk as prescribed by a doctor or dietitian. This diet is calculated by the percentage of energy (calories) provided by different food groups.
- Modified Atkins diet
Modified Atkins diet using high-fat proportions and tight carbohydrate control. However, this diet is more flexible than the classic ketogenic diet or MCT diet. This is because the consumption of fat, protein and calories are not restricted.
- Treatment of low glycemic index (LGIT)
This diet focuses on how carbohydrates affect blood glucose levels (glycemic index), as well as the number of carbohydrates eaten. This diet uses more estimated portion sizes than the food weighed or measured.
Selection of keto dietary methods above should be based on advice from doctors. Because each child has different conditions, so it could be a different diet method used.
- Side effects appear
Although it can reduce symptoms of seizures in patients with epilepsy, keto diet can also cause side effects in children who live it. Side effects are usually tired easily caused by decreased blood sugar levels and muscle mass, nausea and vomiting due to changes in the body that usually consume carbohydrates, constipation because the body is dehydrated, kidney stones because the body receives too much protein and salt from fat, slow growth and low bone density due to lack of essential nutrients and substances, low body weight, and high cholesterol from consuming too much fat.
If the side effects are too much for the child, you should ask your doctor about other epilepsy diets, such as a modified Atkins diet or a low glycemic index diet. This diet can be a bit easier to handle.
Why Ketogenic Diet for Epilepsy and How to Go?
Some people may not be suited to a keto diet, but this diet is suitable for reducing various types of seizures and epilepsy symptoms such as myoclonic astatic epilepsy, Dravet syndrome, infantile seizures (Western syndrome), and children with tuberous sclerosis.
Dieticians will calculate the nutritional needs of children and try to include their preferred foods. But if a child has a problem with food or has a condition where a high-fat diet will interfere with his condition, keto diet may not be suitable.
In some clinics, keto diet care is available for children from the age of one year. Even in some medical centers, keto diet can be used in younger infants with more detailed surveillance.
Not only children who suffer from epilepsy need readiness, but parents also have to decide whether the family is ready for this ketogenic diet because parents should change the food at home to fit the child’s diet. It may be difficult if the family has more than one child. In addition, caregivers and teachers in schools should also understand the child’s diet so that they can supervise the child. Why should always be watched? Because just a little out of the diet will likely trigger a seizure. If successful, this diet will reduce the symptoms of childhood epilepsy well, that’s why ketogenic diet for epilepsy is right for children.