What type of diet can help control epilepsy?

Studies have shown that a low carbohydrate or a ketosis inducing diet can help control epileptic events.

Dr. Adriana S. Tanner, MD

One dietary therapy considered for people with epilepsy, the ketogenic diet, dates back to the early 1900s. Until the early 2000s, the ketogenic diet was traditionally used for children.

The ketogenic diet is very high in fat and low in carbohydrates, and begins with a period of fasting. Through this approach, fat becomes the main source of energy. Combined with the low intake of carbohydrates, the body makes ketones–a substance made when the body breaks down fat for energy. The body uses ketones when there is not enough insulin to deliver sugar from the blood to the body's cells.

The ketogenic diet offers adequate amounts of protein for body growth and repair while supplying a sufficient number of calories for maintaining a healthy weight. Foods included in this diet are butter, cream, lard, olive oil and duck fat. Grains, bread and pasta are typically avoided.

A modified Atkins diet is another version of a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that can be helpful for those living with epilepsy. This diet differs from the ketogenic diet in that it allows more carbohydrates and protein, doesn't limit fluids and calories and doesn't contain a fasting period.

When a patient starts a diet, a two-month trial period is typically recommended for testing its effectiveness. If successful, then the diet is usually continued for two years. While dieting, some individuals are able to reduce the amount of medication they take.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.