Seizures are quite uncomfortable and dangerous for people with epilepsy. My uncle suffers from it and once or twice a week he would have uncontrollable fits that put him in great danger..
When someone has seizures, his or her brain suffers from sudden disruptions in its normal functions. This leads to major changes in consciousness and behavioral alterations. Seizures are often accompanied by an uncontrollable jerking of the body which we term convulsions.
Lately, I noticed that he rarely has those fits anymore. I normally assumed that he’s gotten a new type of medication. That’s how people normally get well, right? So you could imagine my surprise when I discovered that his medicine was still the same. The only thing that changed was his eating and diet.
For epileptics, having a complete meal is an important part in their lifestyle management. My uncle is a very erratic eater, he’ll just eat when he wants to. Since he doesn’t know how to cook, he just eats out. As a result, he ends up with those fits more often than usual. But now that he’s toned down his outgoing habits, and his food is carefully prepared by his sister and our other relatives, he’s suffers from seizures less frequently now.
Turns out that epileptics may be able to control their problem by choosing to eat the right kind of foods. This may not work for every person with Epilepsy, there are those who have other health problems. Diabetics, for example, need to have their food carefully formulated so that it can reduce their seizure frequency without compromising their blood sugar levels.
Researchers have long suspected that there is a link between diet and the frequency of seizures that afflict a patient. Although there has been no clear link established with it as a daily diet, it does have some impact when viewed as a form of treatment for epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a disability that is fairly easy to treat with medication. Of course, there are those rare cases where the patient doesn’t respond to the drugs administered (children often fall into this category). In cases like these, doctors may recommend a ketogenic diet.
This is a high-fat, low-protein, and low-carbohydrate diet that have actually shown good results. It mimics the effects of starvation by forcing the body to make energy from fats – the last source of energy. Glucose and glycogen can also provide energy, but it’s only fats that produce a form of energy called ketones. Ketones have been known to reduce the frequency of seizures from occurring. How it does that still remains a mystery.
This is good, but not great news since not all children can be treated using said method. In addition, there have been questions about its adverse effects on those practicing it. Issues regarding vitamin and mineral deficiencies, organ health, and other long-term side effects have been raised already by concerned parents. Of course, the issue has been resolved. The patients have nothing to fear since a study has shown that it’s all right.
The ketogenic diet does have its limitations. It can only be used with children below 16 years old. Older than that and it doesn’t work anymore. Also, pediatricians recommend this diet only if the patient has grown resistant to anti-convulsants. Parents will need the help of a dietician in formulating the best diet for their children, since each child has a unique level of nutritional requirements.
Done correctly (under a doctor’s advice), this diet can become a routine habit for the family. This would grant the child greater control over his seizures and enable him to live normally with others. Perhaps the only problem would be how to make the meal tasty. Successful formulations had actually produced tasty meals that children eat so much of it.
Research is still being continuously done to understand the effects of this diet to children. It may be possible that future studies would show that it can be extended to older patients, thereby providing families with another way to help bring seizures under control. New medications and devices could also be developed based on the findings of the study.
Epilepsy can be a daily challenge to sufferers but thanks to science things have gotten much better. If you need some more information on Epilepsy and the Ketogenic diet, the Epilepsy foundation is a great source.