The ketogenic diet is indicated as an adjunctive (additional) treatment in children and young people with drug-resistant epilepsy. It is approved by national clinical guidelines in Scotland, England and Wales and reimbursed by nearly all US insurance companies. Children with a focal lesion (a single point of brain abnormality causing the epilepsy) who would make suitable candidates for surgery are more likely to become seizure-free with surgery than with the ketogenic diet. About a third of epilepsy centres that offer the ketogenic diet also offer a dietary therapy to adults. Some clinicians consider the two less restrictive dietary variants—the low glycaemic index treatment and the modified Atkins diet—to be more appropriate for adolescents and adults. A liquid form of the ketogenic diet is particularly easy to prepare for, and well tolerated by, infants on formula and children who are tube-fed.
After initiation, the child regularly visits the hospital outpatient clinic where he or she is seen by the dietitian and neurologist, and various tests and examinations are performed. These are held every three months for the first year and then every six months thereafter. Infants under one year old are seen more frequently, with the initial visit held after just two to four weeks. A period of minor adjustments is necessary to ensure consistent ketosis is maintained and to better adapt the meal plans to the patient. This fine-tuning is typically done over the telephone with the hospital dietitian and includes changing the number of calories, altering the ketogenic ratio, or adding some MCT or coconut oils to a classic diet. Urinary ketone levels are checked daily to detect whether ketosis has been achieved and to confirm that the patient is following the diet, though the level of ketones does not correlate with an anticonvulsant effect. This is performed using ketone test strips containing nitroprusside, which change colour from buff-pink to maroon in the presence of acetoacetate (one of the three ketone bodies).
Advocates for the diet recommend that it be seriously considered after two medications have failed, as the chance of other drugs succeeding is only 10%. The diet can be considered earlier for some epilepsy and genetic syndromes where it has shown particular usefulness. These include Dravet syndrome, infantile spasms, myoclonic-astatic epilepsy and tuberous sclerosis complex.
Say hello to the pili nut! Boasting a higher fat and lower carbohydrate content than just about any other nut on the planet, this snackable wonder is your ketone-loving body’s new best friend. Hunter Gatherer’s handy multipack includes flavors like black pepper turmeric, spicy chili, and Himalayan salt and coconut oil, each wild harvested from pili trees in the mountains of the Philippines.
During the 1920s and 1930s, when the only anticonvulsant drugs were the sedative bromides (discovered 1857) and phenobarbital (1912), the ketogenic diet was widely used and studied. This changed in 1938 when H. Houston Merritt, Jr. and Tracy Putnam discovered phenytoin (Dilantin), and the focus of research shifted to discovering new drugs. With the introduction of sodium valproate in the 1970s, drugs were available to neurologists that were effective across a broad range of epileptic syndromes and seizure types. The use of the ketogenic diet, by this time restricted to difficult cases such as Lennox–Gastaut syndrome, declined further.
So why is social media blowing up with all things #keto, all the time? Well, most of us eat too many carbs to begin with. About half of our calories should come from carbs, according to the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans. That's about 250 grams per day for a 2,000 calorie diet. When you consider all of the grain-based foods and sneaky sources of added sugar, it's easy eat a lot more than the recommended amount.
A metabolic process called ketogenesis and a body state called ketosis are responsible. Ketosis is simply a normal metabolic pathway in which body and brain cells utilize ketones to make energy, instead of relying on only sugar (i.e., carbohydrate). In fact, humans developed an evolutionary ability to burn ketones as an adaptation to periods of food scarcity.
When in the hospital, glucose levels are checked several times daily and the patient is monitored for signs of symptomatic ketosis (which can be treated with a small quantity of orange juice). Lack of energy and lethargy are common but disappear within two weeks. The parents attend classes over the first three full days, which cover nutrition, managing the diet, preparing meals, avoiding sugar and handling illness. The level of parental education and commitment required is higher than with medication.
This is where we have to depart! Sorry to say but you’re on your own. You should have plenty of leftovers that are frozen, ready, and waiting! I know a lot of you out there have trouble with timing and are busy people – so making sure that some nights you make extras to freeze is important. All those leftovers you have in the freezer? Use them up! Create your own meal plan, at first using this as a guide, and then completely doing it yourself. Once you get the hang of it, it’ll be a sinch – I promise you 🙂
The popular low-carb diets (such as Atkins or Paleo) modify a true keto diet. But they come with the same risks if you overdo it on fats and proteins and lay off the carbs. So why do people follow the diets? "They're everywhere, and people hear anecdotally that they work," McManus says. Theories about short-term low-carb diet success include lower appetite because fat burns slower than carbs. "But again, we don't know about the long term," she says. "And eating a restrictive diet, no matter what the plan, is difficult to sustain. Once you resume a normal diet, the weight will likely return."
Here are a few of the most common side effects that I come across when people first start keto. Frequently the issues relate to dehydration or lack of micronutrients (vitamins) in the body. Make sure that you’re drinking enough water (close to a gallon a day) and eating foods with good sources of micronutrients. To read more on micronutrients, click here >