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Ketogenic Diet For Seizures In Children

Ketogenic Diet For Seizures In Children

No one knows why the ketogenic diet―which was developed in the 1920's―works so well for seizure control, but it does. And these days, it's widely considered one of the hottest food fads in the world. As a treatment for epilepsy, keto has an incredibly high rate of success — but it doesn't come easy. For starters, the diet is strict.

Keto-Diet and Ketosis

The average quantity of macronutrients for somebody on a keto-based diet is around 4-5% carbs, 20% protein, and 75% fat. The real measure of grams and calories expended reliant on the person's needs, physical activity, body type, and other factors. The keto diet centers around whole foods, such as eggs, oily fish, low-carb veggies, and low-sugar organic products. When on a ketogenic dietary regimen, processed foods are strictly avoided. Suppose one follows these essential practices, at some point or another. In that case, you will end up in a condition of ketosis, where you are powering your body fundamentally with fat metabolism rather than sugars.

What is ketosis?

  • When your body is devoid of sufficient carbs to burn for energy, it starts burning fat, which results in ketone formation and is used to draw energy for all the activities, this process is known as Ketosis.
  • As per various studies published on the positive effects of adhering to a keto-diet, a majority of lifestyle-related diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, insulin resistance, PCOS, and obesity, could be kept at bay by adhering to Ketosis.
  • The keto diet may bolster a sound resistance by turning around type 2 diabetes, restricting aggravation, expanding defensive T cells, upgrading autophagy, and improving gut wellbeing.
keto diet

Keto-diet and Epilepsy

Throughout recent years, specialists have been endorsing a ketogenic diet to patients who experience the ill effects of epilepsy, as it has been appeared to decrease the recurrence and seriousness of epileptic seizures. In spite of the fact that epilepsy and migraine attacks are independent clinical issues, they are both neurological disorders with severe torment and attacks. Both these disorders frequently respond to comparative classes of drugs. 

What is Epilepsy?
  • Epilepsy is a neurological disorder wherein activities about nerve cell in the brain is deranged, causing seizures. 
  • Epilepsy may happen because of a genetic defect or a procured injury to the brain, such as a stroke or specific traumas.
  • During a seizure, an individual encounters anomalous conduct, typical symptoms, and sensations, including loss of awareness.

The ketogenic diet was structured during the 1920s to help control seizures in children prone to seizures and epileptic attacks. The conventional treatment for epilepsy was fasting, yet scientists wanted to figure out how to treat seizures in kids without starving them and devoiding them of the essential nutrients. It was discovered that a ketogenic diet had a similar impact on seizures, as fasting did. Moreover, it was beneficial for their health, unlike fasting.

Why does the ketogenic diet reduce seizures?

Physicians noticed a long time ago — more than 2,000 years ago, to be precise — that starvation reduces the frequency of unexplained seizures. 

So why does it work? There are four main ideas:
  • Similar to the body, the brain functions on energy. One theory is that functioning on ketones provides a more stable source of life for the brain.
  • Free radicals are chemicals that cause inflammation in the brain — they're part of the damaging mechanisms in Alzheimer's and stroke. Ketones produce far fewer free radicals than glucose.
  • Chronic acidosis is one of the downsides of keto, but for kids with epilepsy, it could be a benefit. Higher blood acid can stabilize cell membranes, which might play a role in reducing seizures.
  • Ketones raise the production of a substance called GABBA, which reduces electrical activity in the brain. There's also some evidence that GABBA may inhibit genes that excite electrical activity in the mind.
Seizures In Children
Some facts worth noting:
  • Children who are on the ketogenic diet continue to take seizure medicines.
  • Some can take smaller doses or fewer medicines than before they started the diet. This is usually attempted after one month on a keto diet.
  • If the person goes off the diet for even one meal, it may lose its good effect. So it is essential to stick with the diet as prescribed.
  • Being on a diet allows for a sense of control over seizures by a parent (or person living with epilepsy). Many families comment on this and how their ability to cook helps their child.
Are there any side effects?

A person starting the ketogenic diet may feel sluggish for a few days after the diet is started. This can worsen if a child is sick at the same time as the diet is started. Make sure to encourage carbohydrate-free fluids during illnesses. Other side effects that might occur if the person stays on a keto diet for a long time are:

  • Kidney stones
  • High cholesterol levels in the blood
  • Constipation
  • Slowed growth
  • Bone fractures

    ​​​​​Can the diet ever be stopped? How to carefully come off the keto diet?

    If seizures have been well controlled for some time, usually two years, the doctor might suggest going off the diet.

    • Usually, the person is gradually taken off the diet over several months or even longer. Seizures may worsen if the ketogenic diet is stopped all at once.
    • Children usually continue to take seizure medicines after they go off the diet.
    • In many situations, the diet has led to significant, but not total, seizure control. Families may choose to remain on the ketogenic diet for many years in these situations.

    As you slowly make the progression off the ketogenic dietary regimen, start to gradually diminish your fat admission while increasing your admission of lean proteins, vegetables, and healthy sugars, like fruits (apples, mangoes, etc.), entire grains, and beans. While you should, in any case, eat the healthy fats you've gotten acclimated with (such as coconut oil, avocado, and olive oil), diminishing the sum is critical, else, you may end up eating an overabundance of calories. 


    The Bottom Line

    Doctors usually recommend the ketogenic diet for children whose seizures have not responded to several different seizure medicines. Researchers aren't sure why the diet works. But some children become seizure-free when put on the diet. The diet doesn't work for every child. Your child's healthcare provider will determine if the diet is right for your child. The diet is then slowly changed back to a regular diet. Some children may remain on a keto diet for many years. 

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