The ketogenic diet is often recommended as a secondary option, when anti epileptic drugs do not work. Currently neurologists will try several anti epileptic drugs (AED’s) before recommending the classic ketogenic or the Modified Atkins as a dietary intervention. (I have yet to meet a neurologist that will recommend any other form of a diet). Many neurologists do not recognize the ketogenic diet as a form of therapy and will only explore AED’s and/or brain surgery.
There are now hundreds of medical journals that report on the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet at reducing or even stopping seizures. Yet, the ketogenic diet can create serious health risks for certain individuals that carry certain risk factors. In the research journal “Complications of the Ketogenic Diet” the researchers explore 9 children who experienced serious health risks from being placed on the ketogenic diet. Here’s a brief summary of their findings:
- Children taking valproic acid have impaired abilities to utilize the fats and convert them to energy. This can result in hepato-cerebral toxicity.
- The ketogenic diet requires the intake of high fats and a low intake of carbohydrates and proteins placing greater stress on the liver.
- Low levels of carnitine, prior to the onset of the diet, increases the risk for hepatotoxicity.
- Children ages 1-10 are at risk of this.
- Children taking multiple AED’s are also at risk of hepatotoxicity while on the ketogenic diet.
- Carnitine in foods mostly comes from milk and red meat. Only very low levels of protein are allowed on the ketogenic diet which may explain why carnitine levels remain low on the ketogenic diet.
Taken from these findings, I can’t help but extrapolate that the Modified Atkins Diet would create similar levels of risk. Not included in this medical journal, but an absolute risk factor with the ketogenic diet is that dairy can create an immune response through IgG, IgE potential reactions, as well as a peptide response. In addition anyone diagnosed with Cerebral Folate Deficiency should refrain from the consumption of all dairy as it puts greater stress on the folate pathways. The primary foods utilized by the ketogenic diet are cow products.