Diet Tips for Patients with Epilepsy
Epileptic seizures can be triggered by a number of environmental factors and are caused by electrical disturbances in the brain. People with epilepsy may experience just one or more different types of seizures, and some can have profound effects on the body and mind. Stress, lack of sleep, certain substances and hormone fluctuations are just some seizure triggers. Eating certain foods may help to reduce the risk of seizures and also improve overall quality of life.
The Epilepsy Foundation recommends a ketogenic diet for patients with epilepsy because several studies have shown that a diet that burns fat for energy can prevent seizures in some people. Many parents with children who have epilepsy do put their child on a ketogenic diet and until they are seizure free, or almost seizure free.
How the Ketogenic Diet Works
The ketogenic diet is designed to help the body use up fat stores for energy so that there are no severe dips in energy. It is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that is prescribed by a physician and typically consists of prescribed calorie, fluid and protein measurements. The body usually uses carbohydrates for fuel, but eating a ketogenic diet forces the body to use up fat from food and fat stores for energy instead. This releases ketone into the bloodstream, and this process may help to reduce or eliminate seizures in epileptic patients. (Source: Many doctors recommend a ketogenic diet for children who are not responding well to seizure medication and for adults who want to try a different treatment plan. Ketogenic diets for adult patients with epilepsy are usually more strict than the diets for children. Doctors and dietitians have developed a formula-only ketogenic diet for infants.
Side Effects of the Ketogenic Diet for Epileptic Patients
- Gall stones
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Eye problems
- If you or a loved one has epilepsy and are looking for an alternative treatment plan, talk to your physician about your options. Your physician may recommend you to a dietitian who can help create a custom ketogenic diet plan that reduces the frequency of seizures.