The original therapeutic diet for pediatric epilepsy provides just enough protein for body growth and repair, and sufficient calories to maintain the correct weight for age and height. This classic ketogenic diet contains a 4:1 ratio by weight of fat to combined protein and carbohydrate. This is achieved by excluding high-carbohydrate foods such as starchy fruits and vegetables, bread, pasta, grains and sugar, while increasing the consumption of foods high in fat such as cream and butter….
The classic therapeutic ketogenic diet was developed for treatment of pediatric epilepsy in the 1920s and was widely used into the next decade, but its popularity waned with the introduction of effective anticonvulsant drugs. In the mid 1990s, Hollywood producer Jim Abrahams, whose son’s severe epilepsy was effectively controlled by the diet, created the Charlie Foundation to promote it. Publicity included an appearance on NBC’s Dateline programme and …First Do No Harm (1997), a made-for-television film starring Meryl Streep. The foundation sponsored a multicentre research study, the results of which—announced in 1996—marked the beginning of renewed scientific interest in the diet.
The diet is effective in half of the patients who try it, and very effective in one third of patients. In 2008, a randomised controlled trial showed a clear benefit for treating refractory epilepsy in children with the ketogenic diet. A treatment of 6 to 24 months duration frequently results in a ≥ 90% decrease or elimination of seizures.
There is some evidence that adults with epilepsy may benefit from the diet, and that a less strict regime, such as a modified Atkins diet, is similarly effective. Clinical trials and studies in animal models suggest that ketogenic diets provide neuroprotective and disease-modifying benefits for a number of adult neurodegenerative disorders. As of 2008, research in this area is regarded as having provided insufficient positive data to warrant clinical use.”