ketogenic diet for epilepsy: Ketogenic Diet Side Effect (Must Read)

Ketogenic diet for epilepsy

Ketogenic diet for epilepsy – the principle of nutrition, which is based on a certain ratio of consumed proteins, fats and carbohydrates. It appeared in the first half of the 20th century – doctors noticed that the prevalence of fatty foods in the diet allows in almost 90% of cases to reduce the frequency of attacks in children with epilepsy. At that time, anticonvulsant treatment has not yet been developed, and fatty food has become one of the effective ways to fight the disease.


A therapeutic diet based on this principle was developed in the 1920s in the USA. It is a special diet for the patient, which is based on fats. Proteins in this diet should be consumed by the patient in moderation, and carbohydrate intake should be minimized.


A ketogenic diet has arisen to alleviate the condition of children with epilepsy and can be used under the supervision of a physician. It should only be noted that the diet is not used instead, but in addition to the chosen therapy, and it should be followed under the supervision of a physician. Who first noticed the connection between the increase in the amount of fat in food and weight loss is not known for certain, but the ketogenic diet for weight loss began to gain popularity. It should be noted that today to lose weight with fatty foods is not recommended – the body can be damaged.




The essence of the diet is that when digesting food, fats turn into specific metabolic products – ketone bodies, which, when they enter the brain, provide an anticonvulsant effect. That is why diet called ketogenic – it leads to production in the body of ketones, which are, in fact, a therapeutic agent for epilepsy. This diet is not to lose weight, but to fight the disease.


The medical diet involves the consumption of 3 to 4 grams of fat per gram of protein and carbohydrates. Despite the fact that proteins and carbohydrates should be consumed in moderation, it is necessary to provide the body with enough protein. In order to find the optimum ratio of nutrients for a particular case, it is necessary to consult with your doctor and a professional nutritionist. During treatment, the initially selected diet can be adjusted by a doctor according to the patient’s condition.


Food for epilepsy should include various types of fatty foods, such as, for example, butter, bacon, heavy cream, vegetable oils, mayonnaise. In countries where a diet with increased fat content is widely used in nutrition, the food industry produces many special foods to provide a variety of menu.


Since the consumption of sugar in the ketogenic diet menu is maximally limited, patients with epilepsy should be careful when taking sugar-containing drugs (for example, cough syrups), vitamins, when using toothpaste containing sugar, and other non-food and food products that may contain sugar. Read carefully descriptions of the composition when purchasing hygiene products.


Diet is prescribed, usually with forms epilepsy that is resistant to the effects of anticonvulsant drugs. Like any other, this diet has its own contraindications. These include:


  • Functional disorders of the heart, liver, kidneys;
  • Presence of current encephalopathy;
  • Mitochondrial diseases;
  • Endocrine diseases (eg, diabetes)
  • In addition, a relative contraindication may be the need for surgery.

It must be understood that diet alone does not guarantee the onset of improvement. As a rule, during the first two months, the diet passes a “trial period”: the patient’s condition is analyzed and a decision is made whether or not to continue the diet. If during the trial period the diet has shown its effectiveness, in the absence of a negative effect, the doctor usually recommends its continuation. In children 1-12 years, the diet in most cases gives good results. Children under the age of 1 year, this diet is usually not prescribed, because there is a risk of hypoglycemia, a serious decrease in blood sugar levels.


Despite the fact that the most effective diet is in children, the ketogenic diet for epilepsy in adults is also used. In general, its use can reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures, as well as improve memory, attention. In addition, in some patients, this allows for lower doses of anti-epileptic drugs taken.




A ketogenic diet is a therapeutic agent, and, like any medicine, must be applied according to certain rules. First of all, these rules concern the diet and the products included in its composition.


Products are selected so that 3-4 parts of fat accounted for 1 part of proteins and carbohydrates. Accordingly, foods rich in proteins and carbohydrates are strictly limited. Cereals, fruits, bread, root vegetables (potatoes, beets, carrots), flour products, pasta are practically excluded from the diet. You cannot also drink juices and mineral water – just plain, without gas.


The menu for the week is compiled so that it includes all available products.


As a rule, the diet contributes to weight loss, but it is rather a side effect, and if it can even be useful for an adult in some cases, the child needs weight control and nutritional adjustment.


It is better to start treatment in the hospital, under the supervision of doctors, not trying to make a diet for yourself as described in various sources. The first week quite difficult for patients, at least a day or even several will have to starve – drink only water. This is necessary in order to introduce the organism into a special state and make it begin to produce ketones that serve as an anticonvulsant.


In-hospital doctors select products suitable for the patient and establish a link between their use and the number and severity of the seizures. After selection of the individual menu, the patient is allowed to go home. It is necessary to tune in to long-term dietary restrictions, for one week the disease does not recede. Dieting will have to take at least two years, after which it can be canceled after consulting with the attending epileptic doctor.




A ketogenic diet for epilepsy in children is considered to be a reasonably safe and effective treatment with few side effects. Side effects are manifested mainly when the patient does not fully follow the prescribed instructions. For example, there were cases of kidney stones, decreased immune function, lower blood sugar levels in patients on this diet.


It is important to understand that the ketogenic diet, like most others, cannot be fully beneficial due to the fact that the body cannot get enough of all the nutrients it needs. However, under the supervision of specialists, the patient can qualitatively improve his state of health, the main thing is adherence to all prescribed rules, patience and the desire to achieve results.


For one week, nutritional restrictions do not cause any serious consequences for the body, but with a long diet, there is a shortage of nutrients.


In order to replenish it, doctors in specific cases advise patients to consume a sufficient amount of products that contain folic acid (raw or minimally processed vegetables and fruits), calcium and magnesium (dairy products), vitamin B12 (in the greatest amount contained in beef liver ), vitamin K (cereals and green leafy vegetables) and vitamin D (fish oil and fish). However, these recommendations can be given only taking into account the individual characteristics of the patient’s body, therefore, only the jointly working physician and a qualified nutritionist should appoint a diet.


As a side effect of a child on such a diet, there may be a delay in physical development. In this case, it must be adjusted.


Both in children and in adults there may be disorders in the gastrointestinal tract, the occurrence of hypoglycemia, dyslipidemia, changes in the cardiovascular system, disturbances in the mineral metabolism. As a rule, all these phenomena are temporary, and they disappear when adjusting the diet. According to some data, only in 8.5% of cases, the diet has to be canceled due to side effects.


It should be understood that such a diet can cause a feeling of discomfort, especially during the first time (due to the feeling of hunger in the first 1-2 weeks, strict regulation of the amount of food consumed, the need to keep a food diary). That is why it is necessary that both the patient and his entire family have sufficient motivation to follow strict rules, compliance with which can help in achieving good results. 1 adult people find it easier to maintain a diet, but it gives the best results for children.


In drawing up the diet of a patient with epilepsy, the following factors are taken into account:

Age, weight, height, level of physical activity, body mass index and other individual characteristics of the organism. The abundance of food now allows you to vary the diet, which makes it easier to follow the diet.


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