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Keto Has a Long History in Treating Epilepsy

Published: March 15, 2019
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Keto Has a Long History in Treating Epilepsy

The journal Neurology published a broad scale study that took a look at the effects of the keto diet on epilepsy and it was found that there was a 50% reduction in epileptic seizures in 32% of the patients that went on a keto diet. This is a broad scale study that looked at a multitude of other studies and aggregated the data to come to the conclusion. Hey, I’m Thomas DeLauer with Keto-Mojo and today I want to explain how the keto diet affects epilepsy.

So, what is epilepsy? Well, epilepsy is a condition where the patient suffers from seizures. Sometimes totally random and sometimes with long periods of time between them. But the fact is, for one reason or another, patients with epilepsy suffer from either partial or general seizures. General seizures are where the full brain ends up going into some form of seizure. Whereas a partial seizure is where only one small portion of the brain might go into a seizure. But either way, not something you want to deal with. Now, here’s the crazy thing, fasting has been used to treat epilepsy since 500 B.C. Yes, they found that when people would abstain from food, seizures would diminish, they would reduce. But they also found in 1921, that it was the beta hydroxybutyrate and the aceto acetate, the ketone bodies, that actually had the effect on epilepsy. Meaning, it was actually the ketones that prevented epilepsy in the first place when it came down to fasting. From that they were able to find that when you deprive the body of carbohydrates, you still created those ketone bodies just like you did when fasting. Therefore, you’re able to help prevent epileptic seizures with the keto diet.

Here’s how it works. Although some of it is ambiguous, most of the science leads us to believe that it has to do with the GABA and glutamate cycles within the brain. GABA is a relaxing neurotransmitter while glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter. If we have excess levels of glutamate, we have extra energy going into the brain, which would make sense that could trigger a seizure in someone that is epileptic. Inside our brain, in our nervous system, we have these things called synaplosomes and inside these synaplosomes we can either have GABA or glutamate. Well, what studies have started to find is that on a keto diet we have higher levels of GABA in these synaplosomes. So, if we were to have glutamate instead of GABA, it would cause this hyperactive response. But since we end up having GABA in this situation, we end up having a more relaxed response, obviously being more prevalent with the keto diet.

The other thing we have to look at is something known as a vesicular glutamate transporter. These vesicular glutamate transporters actually transport the glutamate to the synaptic cleft. We have these things called presynaptic vesicles. Right before a nervous system actually makes an impulse response, we have neurotransmitters or different things that flood to this presynaptic vesicle. It’s like a storage area that is sort of the staging area before a neural response. Well, believe it or not, normally we would have glutamate that would go into that synaptic vesicle and wait to be used and trigger an energetic response. But in the case of ketosis, beta hydroxybutyrate or acid acetate, the primary ketone bodies, actually end up taking place of the glutamate. So, you end up having sort of a competitive inhibition there. Because the ketones compete with the glutamate inside the synaptic vesicle, we end up having the body use the ketones instead of the glutamate. This is all a very complicated way of saying that ketones sort of bump the glutamate out of the way.

Another area to look at is the hippocampus portion of the brain and the altering gene expression that occurs with the keto diet. The keto diet triggers a more widespread, diversified energy system throughout the brain, and this is centered at the hippocampus. The keto diet makes it so the brain can have an overall even level of energy, less instance of hyper amounts of energy going to one portion of the brain, potentially eliciting a seizure. Now, where this really starts to get interesting is with a study that was published in a journal Cell Cycle. The keto diet is now being shown to affect seizures by a way of our gut bacteria and this could be the reason that the keto diet has been so beneficial all along, believe it or not. What this study took a look at was the effect of specific kinds of gut bacteria that increased when someone was on a keto diet. They took mice that had no gut bacteria whatsoever and they gave them these two specific kinds of bacteria that are prevalent when someone’s on a keto diet. And guess what? These mice that were epileptic didn’t have seizures anymore. It was found that literally just by adding the kinds of bacteria that are produced when you’re on a keto diet could stop seizures. Once that bacteria were removed again, the seizures came back. Pretty darn powerful stuff.

So, when it comes down to the keto diet’s effect on epilepsy, when it comes down to the specific ketone bodies, like beta hydroxybutyrate, we should be measuring with the Keto-Mojo meter. We know that it has to do with the GABA and glutamate cycle, but we’re starting to uncover so much more in the world of the keto diet. Talking about the gut bacteria, talking about the overall senses of being calm in general. So much more than what meets the eye, and we’re uncovering more every day as to why the keto diet might not just be good for epilepsy, but for all kinds of neuro diseases as well. Make sure that your keeping it locked in here with Keto-Mojo and leave all the guess work out of the equation and start testing with the Keto-Mojo meter. I’ll see you in the next video.

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