Health Impact News Editor Comments:
The ketogenic diet has been around for 80 years, and it works. It has been used to get kids with epilepsy off of drugs through diet alone. But because it is so restrictive and because people have been misled into thinking saturated fat is bad, medicine is considered a better option by many doctors. In the interview below with Dr. Elizabeth Thiele, a physician who uses the ketogenic diet to stop seizures, Dr. Richard Besser of ABC news asked her: “How does the diet work?” Her response:
How the diet works is a very big question, because when children are on this diet, they’re restricted from having birthday cake, from having French fries, from having potato chips, from having Halloween candy. So you’re taking a child who’s already living with epilepsy, and you’re further restricting their world. So it would be much easier if we could figure out how this diet works and put it in a pill form so people could take it that way. Because it’s so extremely effective, and it continues to be more effective than any medicine we have, there’s an increasing amount of interest in the basic science community about what the mechanism of the diet is. And the diet is also expanding in other areas, especially neurologic disease, and there’s increasing interest of using a similar diet in cancer. So obviously, understanding the mechanisms of the diet would help further help its utility in these other areas.
So to follow this line of reasoning, the whole justification for developing a drug that would “mimic” the effects of the ketogenic diet is because it is easier for people to “take a pill” then it is for them to change their diet and give up junk food, like birthday cake, french fries, potato chips, Halloween candy, etc.
But what does that say about mainstream’s overall dietary approach that is apparently contributing, if not causing, many of these modern diseases? In referencing the current USDA’s recommended dietary advice and the [old] food pyramid, Richard Besser asked: “So it really reverses totally the food pyramid for these kids?” Dr. Thiele admitted that it did:
Pretty much. We have a graph that we show that shows the typical American diet, and I think the typical American diet is close to 60 percent carbohydrates, which I’m not sure is great, and then on the ketogenic diet about 90 percent of the calories come from fat. And so many people are concerned. “Gee, high fat. What does that do for risk of heart disease in later years?” And that has never been looked at, unfortunately, but the diet’s been used for over 80 years in this country, and at least as far as I’m aware, there isn’t really an increased cardiovascular risk. We do follow children extremely carefully when they’re on this diet, since they’re growing children and we’re changing their nutrition and what we do see is that the lipids, the cholesterol will increase slightly when children start the diet but that tends to normalize over time.
So we have over 80 years experience with this ketogenic, low-carb high-fat diet, and no records of these kids developing heart disease due to the diet. Just tons of data showing how they could go from 5000 plus seizures a day, in some instances, to none. Without drugs. And now we are seeing that this low carb high fat ketogenic diet is being investigated for curing other diseases (See: Low Carbohydrate High Fat Ketogenic Diet May Reverse Kidney Failure in People with Diabetes & Ketogenic Diet May Be Key to Cancer Recovery), as Thiele comments:
Right now there’s some preliminary evidence in Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease that a diet similar to the ketogenic diet may be very effective. And there’s actually a critical trial, ongoing, in ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s, disease of using a similar diet and there’s a lot of evidence, mainly animal model evidence, that similar diets may be very effective in helping to treat cancer. There’s evidence in prostate cancer and there’s a lot of evidence in some brain cancers, like neuroblastoma. And I think that’s because cancer cells are rapidly dividing so they have a very high metabolic rate and they use a lot of energy. And so the ketogenic diet basically shuts down the cell’s energy production and makes the cells rely more heavily on fat metabolism, and cancer cells, I think, are not thought to do that as effectively.
So if you want to obtain the health benefits of a low-carb high-fat diet without waiting for the pharmaceutical industry to develop the drugs for it, you could just start following the dietary principles of a low-carb high-fat diet (not necessarily the strict ketogenic diet). One of the best books written on the dietary principles of the low-carb high-fat diet is Gary Taubes book:
How Can a High-Fat Diet Treat Epilepsy? Dr. Besser Reports
Imagine treating childhood epilepsy with bacon, heavy cream and hot dogs. This may sound like an unlikely approach, but the extremely high-fat and low-carb ketogenic diet has been shockingly effective in treating kids with drug-resistant epilepsy. ABC News’ senior health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser sat down with the director of pediatric epilepsy at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Elizabeth Thiele, to discuss this unusual approach to fighting epilepsy.
Read the full article here: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/ketogenic-diet-high-fat-diet-treat-seizures/story?id=13366995&page=1