Just when you feel that all is lost, and you’re about to give up on your meds, there is another option. (In fact, there are three!)
They may not beat your epilepsy (although some people say they do!)
But they can help reduce your seizures and the amounts of medication needed.
The Ketogenic Diet — one of the oldest treatments for epilepsy.
There are many children for whom epilepsy medications like Lamictal, Depakote, and Zarotin are ineffective in controlling or even reducing seizures.
These drugs, especially in combination, can also cause unpredictable and serious side-effects.
That’s why many parents have turned to alternative therapies for seizure management.
Because ketones seem to have an anti-convulsive effect, one of the most promising and least invasive alternative treatments for seizures has been the Ketogenic Diet.
The diet is a high fat, adequate protein, low carbohydrate diet which works by fasting which in turn, creates ketones, which are by-products of the fat-burning metabolism that happens while fasting.
And during this time, the body goes into a state known as ketosis— which has an anti-convulsant effect.
Seizures often lessen or disappear during these periods of fasting.
With careful and proper monitoring, the Ketogenic Diet has been found to reduce seizures in two-thirds, and eliminate seizures in one-third, of all children for whom anti-epileptic drugs are ineffective.
And if it is successful, it’s usually continued for two years.
During this time, children are often gradually able to lessen or discontinue the amount of medication they take for seizures.
And interestingly, many children seem happier and more alert on the diet, even before medication is significantly lessened.
The Atkins Diet — may reduce seizures in children with epilepsy.
Along with helping some people shed unwanted pounds, the popular low-carbohydrate, high-fat Atkins Diet may also have a role in preventing seizures in children with epilepsy.
That good news comes from the prestigious Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
In a limited study, patients 12 years old and younger on the Atkins regimen for at least four months.
Two children and one young adult were seizure-free and were able to reduce their anti-convulsant medications.
Findings of the study, also showed that seizure control could be long-lasting on the diet…for as much as 20 months.
The researchers caution that the Atkins Diet should not lead to routine use in children with epilepsy, nor should it be used to replace the Ketogenic Diet — the rigorous high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet already proven to reduce or eliminate difficult-to-control seizures in some patients.
The common elements in both diets are high fat and low carbohydrate foods that alter the body’s glucose chemistry.
The Ketogenic Diet mimics some of the effects of starvation, in which the body produces ketones, a chemical byproduct of fat that can inhibit seizures.
The Atkins Diet, while slightly less restrictive than the Ketogenic Diet, also produces ketones.
In the short-term, the Atkins Diet could be used by selected patients as a “trial run” for those considering the Ketogenic Diet in the future.
In the Johns Hopkins study, five out of six patients attained ketosis within days of starting the Atkins Diet and maintained moderate to large levels of ketosis for periods of six weeks to 24 months.
MAD — Modified Atkins Diet — more user-friendly.
Although it’s referred to as “MAD”, the Modified Atkins Diet is really the best of both possible worlds.
This modified version of the popular high-protein, low-carbohydrate Atkins Diet can significantly cut the number of seizures in adults and children too.
Offering a new lifeline for patients when drugs and other treatments fail or cause complications.
It’s a less restrictive, higher in protein and carbohydrates, a dietary therapy for epilepsy for those who would otherwise use the Ketogenic Diet.
So far, it’s been used and researched for the past five years with outcomes similar to the Ketogenic Diet.
Recent data has also suggested this valuable new therapy leads to a rapid seizure improvement when effective.
It’s not exactly know, how ketones reduce and eliminate seizures, or why the diet works for some and not others.
Researchers are especially interested in why some children remain seizure-free after discontinuing the diet.
Further research is needed, since the Modified Atkins Diet has only been used since 2004.
But it’s promising to note that clinical research did show that about half the patients experienced a 50 percent reduction in the frequency of their seizures by the first clinic visit.
About a third of the patients halved the frequency of seizures by three months.
Side effects linked with the diet, such as a rise in cholesterol or triglycerides, were mild.
In general, the Modified Atkins Diet is recommended for: adolescents, adults, and younger children with difficulty staying on or starting the Ketogenic Diet…families with limited time…those lacking financial resources to cover the costs involved with the Ketogenic Diet…and patients at centers with limited dietitian support.
Good news: The Modified Atkins Diet doesn’t deprive you of rich foods like butter, peanut butter, mayonnaise, oils, cheese, bacon, eggs, hamburger, and whipped cream.
The diet doesn’t cause children to become overweight, and overweight children often lose weight.
But daily supplements are necessary to replace vitamins that are missing in the diet.
Suggested vitamins include: Vitamin B-1…Vitamin B-2…Vitamin B-3…Vitamin C…Folate…Vitamins D…and E.
Check your multi-vitamin to see if ALL of these are included..
Although there are considerably fewer side effects than with drugs, the Modified Atkins Diet for seizures can cause dehydration, constipation and, occasionally, kidney and gall stone complications.
Side effects can also develop in children who are unable to digest large amounts of fat.
As with all treatments, initial evaluation and careful monitoring by parents, a neurologist, and a nutritionist are all mandatory.
We do know that the Modified Atkins Diet for seizures is as effective, less restrictive, and far easier than the Ketogenic Diet.
It’s an inexpensive alternative treatment option with few side effects that often works when all else has failed.
And that is good news for all of us who have tried previous diets and given up hope or even the strict discipline.
G.A.R.D –The Glutamate-Aspartate Restricted Diet – a life-long elimination diet.
Let me start by saying the G.A.R.D diet is highly controversial.
While some claim “dramatic improvements in the severity and frequency of their seizures,” others find it a diet difficult to maintain.
And if you cheat a smidgen, your seizures will come back.
So, consider this a life-long commitment…or else just skip it.
Essentially, the G.A.R.D is an elimination diet, specifying definite foods (which includes food products and ingredients) that must be avoided.
So strict vigilance is mandatory for this diet to work.
Here is a line-up of the forbidden foods: gluten – commonly derived from wheat and grains…casein – protein found in cow milk (and most dairy products)…soy…corn – including corn syrup and corn derivative products…MSG (mono-sodium glutamate) – a very common food ingredient in processed foods even though it is rarely clearly labeled as such…aspartame – commonly used as a sugar substitute…glutamate – found in high concentrations in most beans/legumes…and hydrogenated oils.
And if that’s not depressing enough, there are no clinical trials proving the effectiveness of the G.A.R.D Diet, just anecdotal evidence.
However, if it does work for you, seizure control could begin within days to weeks after starting the diet.
The only good news I can see, is the G.A.R.D Diet is a carbohydrate junkie’s dream come true.
But there’s so many other foods and ingredients you have to sacrifice, it hardly seems worth it to me.
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