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Epilepsy: A low-carbohydrate diet may be just what the doctor ordered

We've known for some time that a high-protein, low-carbohydrate (and high-fat) diet is effective in controlling epileptic seizures in children. In fact, the ketogenic diet is used in over a dozen hospitals around the country as an intervention for epilepsy. Now some new research from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine suggests the diet may be helpful for adults as well.

Eric H. Kossoff, MD and his team of researchers at Johns Hopkins gave the high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet to 30 adults who had not been helped by at least two anti-convulsant drugs. These adults had an average of 10 seizures a week. Their eating plan restricted them to only 15 grams of carbohydrates a day, with most of their calories coming from fats and proteins like meat, heavy cream and eggs.

“There was good news and bad news," Kossoff told US News and World Report. “The good news was that it worked. The bad news was that it was tough." About a third of the adults in the study stopped the diet because it was tough to do, but of those that stayed on it, 50% reported half as many seizures. Overall, a third of the patients cut the frequency of their seizures in half.

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