T Nation

Ketogenic Diet to Reduce Seizures

Thought this might be a good discussion topic for the board and provide some insight to epileptic T-Nation members, the article is by Dr.John Berardi and can be found here ( http://www.precisionnutrition.com/members/showthread.php?t=12158 )

"Mentorship, Support, Accountability - Part 2
The Hopeless Doctor
by John M Berardi

Today’s message is an important one for anyone who’s ever gone to see a doctor in their lives. Uh, that’s right, this means you.

A Little Background
We recently brought on 3 new members of the Precision Nutrition team. Interestingly, one of the 3 has epilepsy.

Having no experience with epilepsy, but having a deep curiousity, I’ve asked this new team member a ton of questions. Further, I’ve done a lot of independent study.

I wanted to know what epilepsy is, how it impacts people’s lives, and which treatments are available for those living with epilepsy.

Interestingly, during my research, I discovered that there’s actually a dietary treatment for epilepsy!

Indeed, the research is now showing that, in adults, a ketogenic (very low carb diet) can reduce the incidence of seizures in epileptics by about 80-90%. This is huge…it means that if you normally had 10 seizures per day, you’d have just 1 or 2.

If you know anyone living with epilepsy, ask them what that would mean to
their lives.

They Kept This From You?
Of course, I assumed our new team member was either following this approach or had tried it in the past.

When I inquired, the answer shocked me. Not only hadn’t she tried a ketogenic diet, her doctors had never even mentioned the diet to her!

Instead, they decided to “manage” her epilepsy with 1 highly invasive brain surgery and a never-ending stream of prescription meds.

Highly pissed, we called up her doc and did a little 3-way conference call.
“Thanks, Dr. Berardi for your concern. However, the ketogenic diet is much too difficult for adults to follow. So rather than wasting time with this, I recommend another surgery.”

Highly pissed barely describes my response.

This doc was actually recommending more meds AND another surgery - yet wouldn’t even consider giving her a month or two to try the dietary approach!

Ketogenic Diets and The Physique Community
At this point, let’s take a quick step back so we can be clear on what this wild, wacky, impossible-to-follow diet consists of.

A ketogenic diet is basically a diet that’s high in lean proteins and healthy fats while also being fairly low in carbs. Uh, that’s it.

As anyone that’s been involved in the physique community intimately knows, whether they want to step on the fitness and/or figure stage or whether they simply want to look great on the beach, this is the exact diet that most folks use when trying to get lean.

So, when I heard the doc dismiss this diet as “impossible for adults to follow” I almost lost my mind.

Sure, it certainly takes some effort to learn how to follow a ketogenic diet. Especially if it’s much different from your “normal” intake. But IMPOSSIBLE? I think not.

Docs and Diet
After I cooled off and gave this situation some rational thought, I realized that this isn’t at all unusual. In fact, it’s just the way that the medical system works.
Got type 2 diabetes? Take these pills.
Got heart disease? Here’s a bypass surgery and 5 bottles of pills.
Got epilepsy? Here’s a brain surgey and 3 more bottles of pills.
Nowadays, most docs don’t even mention the fact that all 3 of these disorders/diseases are treatable with diet. It’s just not on the menu of options.

Isn’t that really scary? Nowadays, adults aren’t even given the info to make a choice. And if they do ask, they’re even discouraged from discussing their options.

Unless, of course, the options are surgery and pills.

But Why Bother
You know what, though. What else should we expect. After all, what if the docs actually did start recommending dietary treatments? Without some guidance and support, people would be doomed to failure anyway.

Can you imagine having epilepsy and having your doc say the following:
“You know, a ketogenic would help you reduce your seizures significantly. Just stop eating carbs and you’re all set.”

Uh…thanks doc…

Can I get those pills instead?

Figure It Out Yourself?
Here’s another apt analogy. Imagine that we’ve just hired you on as a member of the PN Customer Service Team. And when you show up for work the first day, there’s a note on your desk.
“Welcome to the team…there’s a phone on your desk and a computer, too. Customers will call and email with questions. Make sure they all get answered.”

Imagine that’s the extent of your job training. No instruction on how to answer the phones, no instruction on how to access your email account, no instruction on how to respond to the questions themselves, no nothing.

How could you possibly succeed in that environment? Hint: you couldn’t. Then, isn’t the same true when it comes to fitness and nutrition?

Support Is The Key
Truthfully, the only way to succeed in something new is with support.

In the case of our new staff member living with epilepsy, a good doc would not only tell her all about her dietary options, he’d also provide support such as a referral to a top-notch nutrition coach.

After all, following a ketogenic diet (or any other disease related dietary treatment plan), requires more than a list of what to eat and what not to eat. It almost requires an occupational therapy approach.

In an ideal world, someone would come into your home, do an inventory of what must change to accommodate your new plan,and then help you make this plan part of your life.
They’d teach you the dos and don’ts.
They’d teach you how to grocery shop.
They’d help you with the appliances and utensils.
They show you how to eat out at restaurants.
They’d discuss what to do at dinner parties.
And they’d show you how to make the food taste so good that your family will also want to eat this way.
It’s like on-the-job training. It isn’t a “bonus,” it’s a necessity.

Is it any wonder that 95% of the folks who lose weight through diet and exercise interventions, gain all the weight back and then some.

The road to changing our lifestyle patterns is long, hard, and perilous. Alone, most people are destined to fail. With support, there’s actually a chance to succeed.

Question Of The Day
So, the question of the day is this…who do you turn to for support? Who helps you figure it out? Who’s you’re lifestyle manager? Your nutritional occupational therapist?

If you’re not in the kind of shape you want to be in - and you can’t think of a good answer to the questions above - perhaps it’s time to start taking applications."