What is the Ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet, which is very high in fats and low in carbohydrates, was first developed almost 80 years ago. It makes the body burn fat for energy instead of glucose. The diet was used to prevent seizures in children, but fell out of use as new medications were developed.
Over the past few years, largely through the efforts of Hollywood producer Jim Abrahams, whose son Charlie was helped dramatically by the diet, and the continued commitment of enthusiastic parents and physicians who believed in its potential, the ketogenic diet has re-emerged as a major treatment when childhood seizures are hard to control. More research is being done to learn about the underlying reasons for the diet’s positive effect.
When carefully monitored by a medical team familiar with its use, the diet helps two out of three children who are tried on it and may prevent seizures completely in one out of three. It requires very precise, measured changes in the kinds of foods that the child eats. It may also be administered by adding a special type of oil to a more standard diet.
It is a strict diet, and takes a strong commitment from the whole family. The ketogenic diet is not a do-it-yourself diet. It is a serious form of treatment that, like other therapies for epilepsy, has some side effects that have to be watched for. At present the ketogenic diet is used primarily in children, but research is going forward to evaluate its potential as a treatment for adults as well.