Epilepsy impacts individuals by causing jerking or twitching movements, temporary paralysis, loss of consciousness, respiratory failure, and even death. One-third of individuals have seizures that cannot be controlled despite the use of multiple medications. For these individuals, the ketogenic diet may be a viable option. The ketogenic diet is an extremely low-carbohydrate, high-fat plan, which induces nutritional ketosis and can have adverse effects including acidosis and gastrointestinal dysfunction, along with long-term worries about poor growth, kidney stones, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Despite these challenges, neurology experts have concluded that it is a valuable and effective treatment for many individuals. In 2017, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics published its first practice paper on the use of the ketogenic diet for epilepsy. Dietitians working with individuals on ketogenic diet therapy require a thorough understanding of ketogenic diet guidelines, necessary supplementation, and monitoring protocols to help clients succeed and remain healthy throughout the use of this strict therapy, especially as it becomes a viable option for individuals without epilepsy.
About epilepsy: the basics. Epilepsy Foundation Web site. http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/about-epilepsy-basics. Published January 2014. Updated March 19, 2014. Accessed May 20, 2019.
Roehl K, Sewak SL. Practice Paper of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Classic and Modified Ketogenic Diets for Treatment of Epilepsy. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2017;117(8):1279-1292. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2017.06.006.
Julie Stefanski, MEd, RDN, CSSD, LDN, CDCES, FAND is a SME Writer focused on topics related to food, nutrition & dietetics for Relias. She is a registered dietitian nutritionist and has been a certified diabetes educator since 2003. Ms. Stefanski earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics and a master's degree in Adult Education with a special focus on distance learning. She was an adjunct instructor in the Stabler Department of Nursing at York College of Pennsylvania for 13 years. Stefanski is the owner of Stefanski Nutrition Services where she specializes in pediatric nutrition, diabetes, gastrointestinal issues and sports nutrition. Stefanski serves as national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.
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