Ketogenic diets have seen a resurgence in the last two decades as a treatment for childhood epilepsy, particularly difficult-to-control cases not responding to drug therapy. It works, even in adults. That’s why some brain experts are wondering if ketogenic diets might be helpful in other brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
I’ll save you some time and just give you the conclusion of a 2006 scientific article I read: maybe, but it’s way too soon to tell.
The article is called “Neuroprotective and disease-modifying effects of the ketogenic diet,” from researchers at the National Institutes of Health’s National Institue of Neruological Disorders and Stroke. Sounds promising doesn’t it?
The article goes into detail about how the ketogenic diet might be good for brain health. Dr. Emily Deans would be very interested in that, but most of my readers not. Two-and-a-half pages on non-human animal studies, too.
What is this “Ketogenic diet” used for epilepsy?
The most common ketogenic diet for childhood epilepsy is the one developed by Wilder in 1921. It was a popular treatment for epilepsy in the 1920s and 1930s. Fats provide 80 to 90% of the calories in the diet, with sufficient protein for growth, and minimal carbohydrates. Since carbs are in short supply, the body is forced to use fats as an energy source, which generates ketone bodies—acetoacetate, acetone, beta-hydroxybutyrate, largely from the liver.
Not much. This article may have been written to stimulate future research, and I hope it does. I just searched PubMed for “ketogenic diet AND Alzheimer” and came up with nothing new since 2006.
Could the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet prevent or alleviate Alzheimer’s disease? At this point, just flip a coin.
Steve Parker, M.D.
Reference: Gasior M, Rogawski MA, & Hartman AL (2006). Neuroprotective and disease-modifying effects of the ketogenic diet. Behavioural pharmacology, 17 (5-6), 431-9 PMID: 16940764