KETOGENIC DIET

Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH

The ketogenic diet is a special high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet (similar to Atkins diet) that is used to control seizures in some people with epilepsy. The diet works by mimicking some of the effects of fasting on the body. Usually the body uses carbohydrates (such as sugar, bread, pasta) for its fuel, but because the ketogenic diet is very low in carbohydrates, fats become the primary fuel instead. When you fast, the body first burns its stored supplies of glucose (which we get from the carbohydrates we eat) for the energy it needs to maintain normal body functions. When these energy stores become depleted, the body begins to break down stored body fat for energy. This process produces ketones, substances derived from fat that can be used for energy by many of our vital organs. Along with providing energy to our muscles and brain, for reasons not yet entirely understood, ketones help alleviate seizures in certain children.

The diet should be thought of as a form of medical treatment, and therefore adhered to as closely as possible. Some people consider it difficult because it requires strict adherence to an unusual and limited range of foods. Therefore, the diet must be instituted under the careful guidance of your child doctor and, usually, an experienced dietician.

Two unusual complications are retarded growth due to nutritional deficiency and a build-up of uric acid in the blood, which can lead to kidney stones. Rarely the diet can be associated with inflammation of the pancreas—a complication that may be very serious, or even fatal. While these complications are rare, they highlight the importance of administering this diet under the close supervision of child’s doctor.

WARNING ABOUT KETOGENIC DIET

The biggest unresolved concern related to treatment with the ketogenic diet is its harmful effect on blood fats (cholesterol, triglycerides, and other lipoproteins). Studies show that following the diet leads to kidney and gall bladder stones formation and to significant elevations of fatty substances in the blood, changes which could lead to increased risk of heart disease in adult life.

COCONUT OIL BETTER AND SAFE ALTERNATIVE

Instead of animal fats it is much better and safe to use raw organic Coconut oil. For salad dressing use only cold pressed Olive oil, fresh Flax oil or organic cold-pressed Cool oil (combination of flax oil, hemps seed oil, evening primrose oil, etc.). Unfortunately, highest in omega 3 flax oil must be fresh as omega 3 oxidises very quickly. But the best oil to use as a substitute for animal fats in ketogenic diet is raw organic coconut oil anyway.