The Ketogenic diet is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate dietary therapy that in conventional medicine is used mainly to treat hard-to-control (refractory) epilepsy in children. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. In 1994, Hollywood producer Jim Abrahams, whose son’s severe epilepsy was effectively controlled by the diet, created the Charlie Foundation for Ketogenic Therapies to further promote diet therapy. Publicity included an appearance on NBC’s Dateline program and …First Do No Harm (1997), a made-for-television film starring Meryl Streep. The foundation sponsored a research study, the results of which—announced in 1996—marked the beginning of renewed scientific interest in the diet. Possible therapeutic uses for the ketogenic diet have been studied for many additional neurological disorders, some of which include: Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, headache, neurotrauma, pain, Parkinson’s disease, and sleep disorders.
The term “ketogenic” is derived from the word “ketone” and the suffix “-genic.” “Ketones” are molecules produced by the liver when the body shifts from using glucose (sugar) as its primary energy source to using fat. The suffix “-genic” in this context refers to “producing” or “generating.” Therefore, the word “ketogenic” essentially means “producing ketones” or “generating ketones.” In the context of the Ketogenic diet, the goal is to consume a diet that induces the production of ketones by significantly reducing carbohydrate intake and relying more on fats for energy.
Who should implement the Ketogenic diet?
The Ketogenic diet for Epilepsy
Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders after migraine and stroke, affecting around 50 million people worldwide. It is diagnosed in a person having recurrent, unprovoked seizures. These occur when cortical neurons fire excessively, hypersynchronously, or both, leading to temporary disruption of normal brain function. This might affect, for example, the muscles, the senses, consciousness, or a combination.
A seizure can be focal (confined to a specific part of the brain) or generalized (spread widely throughout the brain and leading to a loss of consciousness). Epilepsy can occur for a variety of reasons; some forms have been classified into epileptic syndromes, most of which begin in childhood. Epilepsy is considered refractory (not yielding to treatment) when two or three anticonvulsant drugs have failed to control it. About 60% of patients achieve control of their epilepsy with the first drug they use, whereas around 30% do not achieve control with drugs. When drugs fail, other options include epilepsy surgery, vagus nerve stimulation, and the ketogenic diet.
Are there any adverse effects of the Ketogenic diet?
How to implement the Ketogenic diet?
A complete meal plan of the Ketogenic diet
The diet is calculated by a dietitian for each child. Age, weight, activity levels, culture, and food preferences all affect the meal plan. First, the energy requirements are set at 80–90% of the recommended daily amounts (RDA) for the child’s age (the high-fat diet requires less energy to process than a typical high-carbohydrate diet). Highly active children or those with muscle spasticity require more food energy than this; immobile children require less.
A typical day of food for a child on a 4:1 ratio, 1,500 kcal (6,300 kJ) ketogenic diet comprises three small meals and three small snacks:
|Breakfast||Egg with bacon||
|Morning snack||Peanut butter ball(serving size: 0.5 ounces)||
|Afternoon snack||Keto yogurt(serving size: 1.3 ounces)||
|Dinner||Cheeseburger (no bun)||
|Evening snack||Keto custard(serving size: 1.2 ounces)||
What are the medical applications of the Ketogenic diet?
The diet has been studied for potential therapeutic use in various neurological disorders other than epilepsy: Alzheimer’s disease (AD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), autism, headache, neurotrauma, pain, Parkinson’s disease (PD), and sleep disorders. As of 2022, there is no clinical evidence that a ketogenic diet is effective in treating cancer.
What are the benefits of the Ketogenic diet?