The Ketogenic Diet is an extremely precise and high-fat diet used to treat epilepsy. By eating very high levels of fat and, consequently, low proportions of protein and carbohydrate, the ketogenic diet forces the body to use fat as its energy source rather than the preferred glucose. When the body burns fat, it leaves a residue -- like ashes in a fireplace -- called ketones. Ketones circulate in the blood (a condition called ketosis) and in some individuals, by some mechanism that isn't yet understood, ketones inhibit seizures.
In fact, the success rate of the ketogenic diet is astounding. According to this Cleveland Clinic article, "Nearly 50 percent of children on the ketogenic diet experience greater than a 50 percent reduction in seizures. And nearly 10 percent of these patients will have greater than 90 percent reduction in seizures." If it were a pill, it would likely be the go-to drug for epilepsy.
Though the ketogenic diet is "just food", its drastic ratio of macronutrients can be dangerous if executed improperly. The diet is often initiated in a hospital and should be closely monitored by a qualified doctor.
Despite having failed five antiepileptic drugs, Collin has been classified as a ketogenic diet "super responder". He started the diet the day after his first birthday at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and we began weaning his medicines soon thereafter. Four months later, he had his last dose of seizure medicine and his last seizure in the same week. He has now enjoyed seizure control with the diet alone for six years. He gets regular blood work to track the effects of the diet on his body and has had no adverse reactions.
Collin's particular ketogenic diet is a whole foods blenderized diet. Because he uses a g-tube to eat, his meals are carefully calculated, prepared in a high-speed blender, and then administered via syringe. His diet is dairy free and grain free but still includes a wide variety of healthy foods. He has a fantastic BMI and is one of the healthiest 7 year-olds around, despite numerous issues that compromise his immune system.
For more information on the ketogenic diet, visit The Charlie Foundation.
Image credit: ketogoods.com