A modified version of the 'Atkins' diet, with high-protein and low-carbohydrate, can effectively diminish epileptic seizures in adults, when drugs and other treatments fail, says a new study.
The Atkins-like diet has been successful in controlling seizure in children with epilepsy, and now a new study has found that the low carbohydrate diet could cut down seizures in epileptic adults also.
Doctors have always prescribed an eating plan called the ketogenic diet to treat children with epilepsy. This diet often consists of a short period of fasting, strictly limits fluids and drastically restricts carbohydrates.
It appears to limit or even eliminate seizures, possibly by generating the build-up of ketones, compounds the body produces when it derives calories mostly from fat.
The study was conducted over 30 adults with epilepsy, from 18 to 53 years, who had tried at least two anticonvulsant drugs without success and had an average of 10 seizures per week. They were placed on the modified Atkins diet that was restricted to 15 grams of carbohydrates a day with a few strawberries, some vegetables, or a bit of bread.
The patients were then asked to keep diaries with a record of their dietary intake and how many seizures they had. The researchers then examined the condition of the each patient after one, three and six months, after starting the diet.
The findings revealed that about half the patients had experienced a 50 percent reduction in the frequency of their seizures by the first clinic visit.
About a third of the patients halved the frequency of seizures by three months. Side effects linked with the diet, such as a rise in cholesterol or triglycerides, were mild. A third of the patients dropped out by the third month, unable to comply with the restrictions.
"Fourteen patients who stuck with the diet until the six-month mark chose to continue, even after the study ended-a testament to how effective the diet worked to treat their epilepsy," said Dr Eric H. Kossoff, an assistant professor of neurology and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Kossoff said that the modified diet has opened up another therapeutic option for adults trying to decide between medication, surgery and electrical stimulation to treat intractable seizures.
The results are reported in the February issue of Epilepsia.