Treatment of epilepsy was generally ineffective in the early 1900's. In the 1920s, it was found that fasting could reduce the number of seizures but it was not clear why. Fortunately, anti-seizure medications were developed that helped the majority of people with epilepsy. As a result, dietary treatments lost popularity as a main treatment option for epilepsy.
The ketogenic diet is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet.. The classic diet is made up of 3 parts fat and 1 part carbohydrate and protein. There are variations of the diet, like one that uses medium chain triglycerides as a primary source of fat. You and your child's doctor and dietitian will make adjustments to your child's diet as needed.
How it Works
The diet mimics some effects of fasting on the body. Glucose (sugar) is the easiest source of energy for the body. Most of the glucose comes from carbohydrates that we eat. Once the glucose is burned off, the body uses fat as a source of energy. The use of fat creates a by-product called ketones. For reasons not completely understood, the ketones may reduce or eliminate seizures. Your body will also use body fat for fuel when you fast but fasting is clearly not a long term option. Having a diet with a high amount fat will have a similar effect of increasing ketone production.