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Ketogenic Diet Treatment

by Julia McCartney on May 16, 2012

Whether you are looking for a new way to lose weight or you suffer from epilepsy and have heard that a change in eating habits can help ease your symptoms, the ketogenic diet may be the right solution for you. The ketogenic diet uses a unique combination of low carbohydrate foods and high fat foods to encourage the body to burn fat by keeping available glucose stores for energy low.

Foods on the Ketogenic Diet

Fat typically accounts for 80 percent of the calories that people eat while on the ketogenic diet. The other 20 percent comes from a combination of carbohydrates and protein. Keto.org offers a comprehensive listing of foods that are considered to be ideal for a person following the ketogenic diet. Meats are a cornerstone of the diet because meats tend to be higher in fat and contain no carbohydrates. Examples of meats that are recommended include steak, chicken, ham and bacon.

Heavy cream is also permitted. Condiments that are allowed include soy sauce, salt, pepper, mustard and sugar substitutes. Some people may not be able to consume sugar substitutes on the diet. Whether sugar substitutes are permitted depends on how an individual’s body responds to consumption of the substance. Medical monitoring can determine whether it is allowed.
There are some foods that have only a small amount of carbohydrates. These foods can be included in the ketogenic diet as long as carbohydrate amounts are kept under control. Large amounts of these foods may lead to too many carbohydrates in the diet. Examples of foods that fall under this category include greens, peppers, onions, cheese, cured meats and hot dogs. Some wines and salad dressings may be permitted. Labels should always been examined to check for exact carbohydrate content.

Fruits tend to be high in carbohydrates and should generally be avoided. Pasta, bread, cereal and desserts are all typically very high in carbohydrates. Some people are unaware that sauces may also be off limits. For example, barbecue sauces and ketchup tend to have a lot of sugar. Choose wisely when dressing meats and salads to avoid excess consumption of carbohydrates.

Epilepsy and the Ketogenic Diet

Studies have shown that the ketogenic diet can be an effective treatment for epilepsy in some people. While the diet does not work for every epileptic, the instances of success are substantial enough for doctors to commonly recommend that epileptics at least try out the diet. The Epilepsy Foundation notes that the ketogenic diet is usually used in conjunction with anti-seizure medication. However, patients who show signs of success on the diet may be able to significantly reduce that amount of medication that is needed to keep their epilepsy under control.

Scientists are not sure precisely why the diet can help reduce the instance of seizures in epileptics, but Our-Kids cites an impressive 75 percent success rate. The diet is able to eliminate seizures entirely in as many as 50 percent of epileptics that try the diet.

Side Effects of the Ketogenic Diet

Epilepsy.com outlines the common side effects of the ketogenic diet. The most prevalent side effects are a lack of weight gain and constipation. Doctors may prescribe a medication to counter the constipating effect of the ketogenic diet. The diet can cause a delay in growth of children. It has also been known to increase cholesterol and lead to kidney stones. However, these side effects are found in less than five percent of people using the diet. An increase in cholesterol generally reaches a high level of 30 percent over the beginning cholesterol level. After this initial increase, levels tend to stay steady.

A decrease in bone density that can increase the chance of fractures is another side effect. Regular monitoring of bone density and the prescription of supplements that can help regulate bone density may be necessary. Serious side effects are rarely observed, but it is possible for the ketogenic diet to cause problems with the heart, pancreas and brain. The possibility of serious side effects makes it important for people to be monitored while trying the ketogenic diet.

Ketogenic Diet-friendly Meals

Some people may find it difficult to come up with recipes that conform to the requirements of the ketogenic diet. There are websites that list recipes that are specifically designed to fit into this diet plan. For example, Epilepsy.com lists several recipes and meal plans for specific holidays. Recommendations for Valentine’s Day include steak with vegetables and a recipe for almond bread. Winter holiday recipes teach those that are new to the diet how to cook desserts with a sugar substitute so sweet foods can be enjoyed without compromising the plan.

People utilizing this diet must learn to season meats with salt, pepper and soy sauce instead of traditional sauces such as ketchup and barbecue sauce. These sauces have a high amount of sugar and are not suited for use for a person following the ketogenic diet. Salads with allowed vegetables may be dressed with salad dressing as long as it is not high in sugar. Oil and vinegar bases are common and acceptable.

While learning to cook for a ketogenic diet may take some getting used to, it is possible to enjoy a variety of fresh and delicious foods while following the diet. The ketogenic diet is able to help people lose weight by depleting glucose energy sources in the body. When these sources of energy are depleted, the body is forced to burn fat stores. While researchers are not certain of the reasons behind the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet in controlling epilepsy, the diet is able to ease or eliminate seizures in 75 percent of those suffering from epilepsy. The possibility of serious side effects makes it necessary for the diet to be pursued only under the supervision of a medical professional.

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