What the Ketogenic Diet Does:
Normally, our bodies run on energy from glucose, which we get from food. We can’t store large amounts of glucose, however. We only have about a 24-hour supply. When a child has no food for 24 hours— which is the way the ketogenic diet may begin (usually in a hospital) — he or she uses up all the stored glucose. With no more glucose to provide energy, the child’s body begins to burn stored fat.
The ketogenic diet keeps this process going. It forces the child’s body to burn fat around the clock by keeping carbohydrates (sugars) low and making fat products the primary food that the child is getting. In fact, the diet gets most (80 percent) of its calories from fat. The rest come from carbohydrates (sugars) and protein (meat). Each meal has about four times as much fat as protein or carbohydrate. The amounts of food and liquid at each meal have to be carefully worked out and weighed for each person (typically the diet is made up by a nutritionist or dietician with special training).
Doctors don’t know precisely why a diet that mimics starvation by burning fat for energy should prevent seizures, but this is being studied. Nor do they know why the same diet works for some children and not for others.
Chances of Success
About a third of children who try the ketogenic diet become seizure free. Another third improve but still have some seizures. For the last third of the patients the Ketogenic diet doesn’t do anything.
Trying to put a child on the diet without medical guidance puts a child at risk of serious consequences. Every step of the ketogenic diet process must be managed by an experienced treatment team, usually based at a specialized medical center.
WARNING: You must always seek medical advice if you are uncertain of anything and the Ketogenic Diet must be administered by a qualified and trained health professional!
To use fat as a fuel your body first has to break it down into small pieces; these small pieces are called ketones. They are also produced when you lose weight or if there is not enough insulin to help your body use sugar for energy. Without enough insulin, glucose builds up in the blood. Since the body is unable to use glucose for energy, it breaks down fat instead. When this occurs, ketones form in the blood and spill into the urine. For people with type 1 diabetes – and for some with type 2 diabetes – ketones can be a problem. Raised levels can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis and possibly a trip to the hospital emergency room. High levels of ketones can poison the body!
A Ketogenic Diet is a low carbohydrate, high fat, adequate protein diet that causes a raised level of ketones in the blood and there are a number of therapeutic routes to achieving this ‘shift’. There are over 150 hospitals worldwide with ketogenic diet programs.
1 in 104 people are affected with epilepsy in the UK* and over 50 million worldwide. It is one of the most common serious neurological conditions with approximately 30 different epilepsy syndromes and over 38 different types of seizures. Epilepsy can affect anyone, at any age and from any walk of life. Typical treatments include anti-seizure medications, inpatient surgery, and ketogenic diet.