Low Carb, High Protein Diet Reduces Seizure Rate in Epilepsy Sufferers

A study in the February issue of Epilepsia suggests that a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet can significantly reduce the number of seizures in adult epileptics.

For almost a century, physicians have prescribed low carbohydrate diets to control epilepsy in children. Among the more popular diets is the ketogenic diet, which requires a period of initial fasting, followed by a diet that severely restricts carbohydrate intake and reduces fluid intake.

In the most recent study to test the value of similar diets on adults, researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore assigned 30 epileptic adults ranging in age from 18 to 53 year to follow a “modified Atkins diet” that restricted carbohydrate intake to about 15 grams per day. In order to qualify for the program, participants had to have tried at least two anticonvulsant medications without success and have logged an average of 10 seizures per week.

After one month, half of the patients following the diet had experienced a 50 percent reduction in the frequency of their seizures, a trend that continued into the third month when one-third of patients reported similar reductions in seizure frequency. However, for some patients, the diet proved too restrictive, and by month three, one-third of participants had opted out of the program. The remaining 14 patients who followed the program for the full six-month study period, meanwhile, chose to continue, an occurrence that the study’s lead researcher says is a “testament to how effective the diet worked to treat their epilepsy.”

Speculating on the mechanism behind the success of the diet, the researchers suggest that low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets may promote the build-up of ketone compounds – a byproduct of fat metabolism – in the body, which play some part in reducing or completely eliminating seizures.

Acknowledging that the diet may not be a “good fit for all patients” in terms of its restrictive nature, the study’s lead researcher notes that “it opens up another therapeutic option for adults trying to decide between medication, surgery and electrical stimulation to treat intractable seizures.”

Epileptic or not, this study provides further reinforcement that a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet promotes optimum health. Our only point of contention with the study? The fact that the researcher thinks such a diet is restrictive! Why, with a little creativity, there’s plenty of ways to load-up on low-carbohydrate, high-protein fare – with nary a sugar substitute in sight!

via Science Daily

happy snappr Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

Mark’s Carb Pyramid

FitSugar: Epilepsy Myth

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14 thoughts on “Low Carb, High Protein Diet Reduces Seizure Rate in Epilepsy Sufferers”

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  1. This is also good for those people suffering with Bipolar Disorder. It doesn’t take too big of a stretch of imagination to figure out why. Since the majority of the meds used to treat Bipolar Disorder are also anti-convulsants.

    It’s the high fat that’s important.

    Fat is just good for the brain.

    1. Getting your Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio closer to 1:1 also helps with bipolar disorder. If you eat a ton of polyunsaturated Omega 6, I think you’re asking for trouble, so you need to be mindful of what you eat.

      1. Just a note, the efficacy of a high-fat diet for bipolar disorder has still not been proven. The efficacy of Omega 3 fatty acids for bipolar disorder is still also unknown (conflicting studies). This doesn’t mean they don’t work, but it does mean they probably shouldn’t be one’s only therapy.

  2. This is a hard diet to stick to, because it’s so restrictive. I wonder what the trade off is in other areas of health for these patients.

  3. My son was on the medically monitored ketogenic diet for seizure control for a year, which is the recommended length of time. People should understand that this is a VERY severe form of the more commonly known Atkins diet. It supposedly works by mimicking starvation and shouldn’t be considered as a long-term eating plan.

    My son had no seizures while on the diet, but they gradually returned after he got off the ketogenic diet, even though he remained relatively low-carb–possibly because this diet works better in children. He was already a young adult when we opted to try it. His seizure disorder is well controlled now with appropriate meds plus plenty of vitamin D. I don’t like the meds, but he hasn’t had a seizure in over seven years, knock on wood!

  4. I have stopped eating sugar,(stevia works), no flour, and for me lots of pork, bacon, hot italian sausage, whole milk, cheese, and some low carb fruits and veggies to nibble on. Well I’ve lost weight as well. I needed a co-med. We tried everything but I’d get the side-effects on all except lamictal. This diet plan is a life saver. I used to get the tonic-clonic’s that made me look like a battered wife. Oh I have some but I am conscious and they’re like a shock of electrodes that lasts less than a minute and I need to take meds after that. Now I can function and am thinking about part-time work. I’ll tell you something else that works big time is prayer and love.