The first use of the keto diet had nothing to do with weight loss or diabetes management, for which it's now so well-known. Instead, the diet was created by a doctor in 1924 to help his patients suffering from epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a nervous system disorder that can bring on recurrent seizures at any time. The symptoms can be spasms and convulsions, or an unusual psychological view of the world. In any case, it's caused by abnormal brain activity. The severity of the symptoms varies from person to person. A person is diagnosed with epilepsy only if he or she suffers from more than two seizures in one full day. Anyone can suffer from this disorder, but it seems to affect young children the most, perhaps because the young brain is still in a state of development.
Seizures are frequently managed by drugs. Sometimes they work; sometimes, they don’t.
As far back as 1924, however, Dr. Russell Wilder of the Mayo Clinic conducted groundbreaking research and created the ketogenic diet to help children suffering from epilepsy. It was remarkably effective, but doctors lost interest when new anti-seizure medications came on the market. It was easier for them to prescribe medication than to discuss diet.
However, people who used the keto diet to treat seizures continued seeing remarkable success. Today, doctors are returning to using the low carbohydrate, high-fat diet to treat their patients. The results have been extremely promising.
In 1998, the Journal of Pediatrics published a study involving 150 children who experienced seizures despite taking popular anti-seizure medications. The children were placed on the ketogenic diet for one year which the researchers assessed their progress.
Eighty-three percent of the subjects were still in the study after 3 months. Over one-third of the children showed a 90 percent decrease in seizures. At the end of the year, slightly more than half of the subjects had remained on the diet, and a quarter of them experienced a 90 percent decrease in seizures. The numbers indicate that the keto diet has a tremendously positive effect on children who suffer from seizures. The researchers consider it more effective than medication in many cases.
For anyone with children who experience seizures, the inclusion of a keto diet in the child’s treatment should be discussed with his or her physician.
Another research on the effects of the keto diet on childhood epilepsy involved 145 children. The children were divided into two groups, with one group being treated with medication while the other group receiving a ketogenic diet. Seventy-four percent of the ketogenic diet group were successful in reducing seizures.
There have been more studies of childhood epilepsy and the keto diet. These have sparked new and considerable interest within the medical profession.