What is the Ketogenic diet?
Ketogenic diet is a medical diet for children with difficult to control seizures. The diet is high in fat, moderate in protein and low in carbohydrate. Fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh prepared meat, poultry and fish, heavy cream, butter and vegetable oils are staples in the diet. All foods must be carefully prepared and weighed according to the child's individual diet prescription. The Ketogenic diet is inadequate in many micronutrients and must be enhanced with appropriate vitamin and mineral supplements.
The diet is usually initiated in a hospital setting over a 3-4 day period with close monitoring of clinical responses. Regular follow-up appointments with the Ketogenic diet team during the 2-3 year period that children are on the diet include growth check-ups, laboratory studies, nutritional and neurological evaluations and fine-tuning of the diet to optimize its effectiveness. Improvement in seizure control usually occurs within the first 3 months of the diet. The literature is reporting that 60% of children who attempt the diet have improvement in seizure control. One third of these children become seizure free. With improvement in seizure control, children are able to reduce or eliminate their anti-seizure medication(s).
A medical team including a physician and a registered dietician must supervise the Ketogenic diet. Compliance to the diet is easiest for pre-school aged children and more difficult as children become older and more independent. Children with disorders of fat metabolism require proper metabolic screening prior to initiating the diet as the diet may cause serious adverse effects. The diet can be prepared into a formula for infants or for individuals with special feeding tubes.
How was the Ketogenic diet discovered?
Hippocrates wrote about a man in the 5th century who was cured of his epileptic convulsions after fasting had been prescribed. There is also reference in the Bible from the writings of Mark that refer to fasting and prayer cure for an epileptic. The diet was officially discovered in 1924 when Dr. Peterman at the Mayo Clinic formulated a dietary combination of protein, fat and carbohydrate that would simulate a fasting state. The ketogenic diet became less popular in 1940 due to the discovery of new seizure medicines. In 1994 Jim Abrahams, a movie producer and father of Charlie learned about the diet while searching for alternative treatments for Charlie's uncontrolled seizures. Charlie is now 14 years old and is seizure-free and medication free. The Abrahams family started the Charlie Foundation to create an awareness of this special therapy. www.CharlieFoundation.org
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