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Low-carb ketogenic diet reduces epilepsy-induced seizures, speeds weight loss

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The low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet has proven effective at reducing seizures in children with epilepsy, the Taipei Times reported.

Research from pediatricians at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan indicates that 85 percent of children who followed the ketogenic diet for over a year experienced a 50 percent reduction in seizures. Amazingly, 64 percent became seizure-free on the ketogenic diet.

“For those who continued to the 12th month, 85 percent of them experienced a more than 50 percent seizure reduction and 64 percent are seizure-free,” said Dr. Hsieh Meng-yin, a pediatrician who specializes in brain diseases.

With reduced carbohydrates, glucose produced in the body for energy decreases as well. Instead, the liver converts the higher fat intake into fatty acids from which ketone bodies are produced. The ketone bodies replace glucose as the major fuel source for the brain.

Some suspect that low carbohydrate intake, or reduced glucose metabolism, might be what is performing seizure control rather than the ketones.

These promising results aren't surprising to medical experts in the United States. Dr. Dominic D'Agostino of the University of South Florida told me the ketogenic diet has proven more effective than drugs at treating epilepsy in several U.S. studies, and has shown promise in military applications.

Since 2007, Dr. D'Agostino has worked with the Office of Naval Research to assist the Navy SEALs by developing ketogenic diet strategies to protect them from the undersea environment. He found that a ketogenic diet prevented Navy SEALs from getting seizures during rigorous underwater training exercises.

D'Agostino said his research indicates that the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet starves cancer cells and may one day replace toxic chemotherapy for treating even aggressive cancers.

Meanwhile, the ketogenic diet is being touted for its ability to produce rapid weight loss, reverse diabetes and prevent heart disease, Alzheimer's, and ADHD.

"Eat lots of fat," said obesity expert Dr. Eric Westman, author of A Low Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet Manual. "There's no problem with fat.

In fact, saturated fat — the fat that we've been taught not to eat — raises your good cholesterol best of all the foods you can eat. Hypertension gets better, heartburn gets better, fatty liver. The list goes on and on."

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