The Ketogenic Diet

The Registered Dieticians at NYU Langone work in close coordination with the Center’s other experienced doctors—and have helped many of its patients receive medical nutrition therapy as part of their epilepsy treatment.  In addition to general nutrition and weight management, there are other nutrition therapies for epilepsy which have proven very successful for us here at NYU Langone Medical Center as well as Epilepsy Centers across the world.

NYU Langone's Comprehensive Epilepsy Center has been using both the Keotgenic and Modified Atkins Diets for quite some time and are proven medical therapies to help treat epilepsy. Generally speaking, individuals with Doose Syndrome, Dravet Syndrome, Tuberous Sclerosis, Lennox-Gastaut and GLUT-1 transporter deficiency have tended to respond particularly well to the Ketogenic diet, and it’s being used in treating patients experiencing Infantile Spasms as well.

Our results have been promising and have been similar to worldwide results with the diet.  About half of the people who begin these specialized diet therapies will see a >50% improvement in seizures.  Many of our patients are on a variety of these diet therapies and NYU Langone's Comprehensive Epilepsy Center will continue to offer this as nutrition therapy for epilepsy.

How Ketogenic diets work

In Ketogenic-style diets, carbohydrates (carbs) are restricted, and protein is provided only in amounts to meet the recommended dietary allowance to support growth and development. Fat is the main component of meals, providing roughly 90% of total calories. Meals are provided in exact portions with higher ratios of high-fat foods to encourage the breakdown of fat for energy. When the body has fewer calories from carbs and protein, it switches from burning glucose to burning fat for energy.

The breakdown of fat creates ketone bodies and a state of “ketosis”.  Although the exact mechanism of action is not confirmed, the sustained state of ketosis is believed to suppress neurotransmitter activity and improve seizure control.

Of course, a Ketogenic-style diet is not appropriate for treating every type of epilepsy and are not intended as an alternative to medical treatment. Rather, the diet is one of many tools used by the Center’s team to treat certain patients with epilepsy. Many factors must be considered, and the diet is not suitable for patients with certain metabolic conditions. The strict diet should be implemented under close supervision and monitoring by doctors experienced in this therapy.  Under no circumstances should the diet be administered on one’s own.

To learn how the Center can help with nutrition therapy, call (646) 558-0846.