Introduction to Ketogenic Diet Therapies

Fasting has been recognized as a treatment for many ailments for over two thousand years. In the early 1920’s several physicians discovered that fasting was helpful in reducing seizures. In efforts to mimic the effects of fasting, the ketogenic diet was born. Dr. Peterman at the Mayo Clinic who designed the ketogenic diet, used it for seizure control but also reported the cognitive and behavior improvements that occurred with it. Fast forward to 1994 when Jim and Nancy Abrahams’ son Charlie began having seizures, seizures that didn’t respond to 6 medications or even a brain surgery. Soon after starting the diet, his seizures diminished completely. They created The Charlie Foundation to spread the news, the almost unbelievable news that a diet was more effective than any of Charlie’s previous treatments.

Ketogenic diets have been found to be helpful in many conditions beyond epilepsy. The following conditions have been reported in the medical literature in either an animal study or a case report.

  • Autism
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig ’s disease)
  • Early onset Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Brain tumors
  • Diabetic nephropathy
  • Migraine
  • Mitochondrial disorders
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Narcolepsy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic brain injury

The Classic Ketogenic Diet is viewed as the gold standard for epilepsy treatment. The Classic Diet consists of a 4:1 or 3:1 ratio of the grams of fat to the grams of protein plus carbohydrate. Variations of the Classic diet have been used to make the diet more flexible and palatable such as 2:1 and 1:1 ratios. These ratios are lower in fat and higher in carbohydrate and protein.

Please respect that ketogenic diets are metabolic therapies that require medical supervision for safety. As with any metabolic diet therapy, there can be adverse effects if not managed with appropriate supplementation and monitoring.

For further information about ketogenic diets visit our web-site

Beth Zupec-Kania, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist