Munson Health
Lifestyle Changes to Manage Epilepsy

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by Alan R
The following are general guidelines you can follow to reduce your risk of seizures:

Ketogenic Diet

In some patients, especially children, a strict diet rich in fats and low in carbohydrates may help lessen the number of seizures. This is called the ketogenic diet.
The ketogenic diet forces the body to break down fats rather than carbohydrates to provide the energy needed to survive. It is usually tried in children whose epileptic seizures are poorly controlled with medicine. One study showed that the diet decreased the frequency of seizures 50%-90% in 75% of the patients studied. Another study comparing the ketogenic diet to no change in treatment showed that the diet may reduce seizures in children. It is not known exactly why the diet helps decrease seizures.
This diet is not easy to follow. It is very rigid, and the number of foods available to eat is very limited. Children are usually admitted to the hospital to begin this diet and must be followed very closely by a doctor and/or registered dietitian while they are on the diet. It also has possible side effects. These include:
  • Stunted growth due to nutrient deficiencies
  • Pancreatitis due to elevated triglycerides
  • Build-up of uric acid, which can cause kidney stones or gout
  • Increased risk for heart disease, due to the high fat intake
Patients on the diet should:
  • Work with a registered dietitian
  • Have regular medical check-ups

When to Contact Your Doctor

  • You (or your child) experience any unusual or severe symptoms or side effects
  • You (or your child) have a recurrence or change in the pattern of seizures


5/14/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Neal EG, Chaffe H, et al. The ketogenic diet for the treatment of childhood epilepsy: a randomized controlled trial. Lancet Neurol. 2008 May 2.


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