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Management of Epilepsy with Ketogenic Diet

December 3, 2020

Most people who have got seizure and epilepsy disorders, take medicines to treat the condition. If the medicines don’t work, doctors recommend other types of treatment. One among the most imperative advice is to follow a ketogenic diet. Generally, the ketogenic diet is tried in children ranging from 1 to 12 years who have seizures that are difficult to control.

Researchers have shown that some children have reduced seizures with the help of ketogenic diet. However, some children continue to have seizures despite the diet. A Ketogenic diet is often prescribed to children, adolescents and even in babies.

Mechanism of The Diet

Glucose is the source of our energy to perform various activities. Our body can’t store large amounts of glucose as we have only a 24-hour supply. When a child fasts for 24 hours, his or her glucose stores gets depleted. A child who has to start the ketogenic diet usually fasts for about a day. When no more glucose is available to provide energy, the child’s body begins to burn stored fat. The Keto diet keeps this process going and the diet gets most (90%) of its calories from fat.

The rest comes from carbohydrates and proteins. But the amount of food and liquid have to be carefully weighed for each person. More than 80 years ago, there were reports suggesting one of the positive aspects of fasting being seizure prevention. However, as time elapsed, this topic was more researched.

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It’s the dietitian’s sole responsibility to calculate how many calories the child needs for his/her growth. If any tiny mistake occurs in weighing and measuring foods, as in, it could be even consuming any medicines or even in the tooth paste that contains sugar can deleteriously break the diet. Meal plans combine small amounts of fruits or vegetables (carbs), meat, fish or chicken (proteins) and lot of fat often in the form of cream, eggs, butter, but no sugar.

Doctors often recommend parents feed the diet for at least three months and the child be on anti-seizure medicines. Gradually doctor may taper off the medication after starting the diet. In most of the cases children will be seizure free after following the ketogenic diet. But few do not respond at all because they can’t tolerate the food.

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How to try the diet?

The diet starts with a 24-hour fast and the child should be closely watched. Make sure that he/she is not undergoing through any sort of stress due to not getting food for 24 hours. The blood glucose has to be monitored to make certain that it does not become too low. When the child begins burning fat to gain energy instead of glucose (Ketosis) we can introduce the foods that are part of the diet in definite amounts at the right time. Caregivers are also given special paper strips to treat the ketone levels in the child’s urine.

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Side Effects

The ketogenic diet has also got some negative impacts like dehydration, kidney stones, constipation and gall stones. Some of these side effects may go away if detected in an early stage. The physicians and nutritionists often prescribe multivitamin supplements to meet all the requirements because the ketogenic diet lacks several pivotal vitamins. If a child is unable to process fat (inborn defects) high levels of fat can get accumulated in the blood, which leads to other health disorders.

Tips for parents

  • Don’t create monotonous meal choices.
  • Prepare and make the food more appealing.
  • Involve your children in measuring the food and guide him/her while placing the food on the weighing scale.
  • Follow a regular consistent food time table.
  • Moreover, treat/motivate your children for being cooperative by patiently following the diet.
  • Be very strict about urine ketone monitoring and stay in touch with the healthcare team.
  • Maintaining a food diary helps to a great extent.

Always speak to a trained nutritionist for guidance

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Namitha Nambiar,



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