An anti-epilepsy “miracle diet” is the subject of new research out of Harvard, and scientists say the findings could lead to new treatments for the seizure prone.
Like many diets to address conditions like epilepsy, the anti-epilepsy diet was carbohydrate-restricted, forcing patients’ bodies to burn fat- but the reason the ketogenic diet benefited epileptic patients was not known by scientists.
However, the Harvard study examines the processes affected when a ketogenic diet is used to combat epilepsy, and scientists have a theory to explain the whys of the anti-epilepsy diet. Harvard neurobiology professor Gary Yellen spoke to ABC about the anti-epilepsy diet’s known effects as well as the potential unlocked by new research:
“Yellen said that while the connection between epilepsy and diet has remained unclear for nearly 100 years, he has seen children’s lives change drastically after changes in their food intake. In the past, some patients have also seen improvement when they cut nearly all sugar from their diets… While the research must first be replicated in humans, Yellen said, in the long run, scientists should be able to target this pathway pharmacologically.”
ScienceDaily quotes Yellen on the anti-epilepsy diet directly, and the researcher explains:
“The connection between metabolism and epilepsy has been such a puzzle… I’ve met a lot of kids whose lives are completely changed by this diet. It’s amazingly effective, and it works for many kids for whom drugs don’t work.”
The new research, discovering that the anti-epilepsy diet’s effects can be mimicked in mice by altering a protein, will be published in the May 24th issue of the medical journal Neuron.