Charlie Abrahams, a successful patient of the Ketogenic Diet.
This diet forces the body to burn fat rather than carbohydrates. Given the relative lack of carbohydrates, the liver converts fats into fatty acids and ketone bodies. This leads to a situation known as ketosis which has an anticonvulsant effect. This diet was first developed in the 1920 but lost popularity when effective anticonvulsant drugs became available.
In the mid-1990s a two-year old epileptic boy was not responding to anticonvulsant drugs or alternative therapies. He underwent the Ketogenic Diet at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland and rapidly became seizure free. His father, the Hollywood producer Jim Abrahams, created the Charlie Foundation to help promote this treatment. The 1997 TV movie …First Do No Harm starring Meryl Streep is a fictionalized account of the diet and its effects. The movie is available on DVD in some stores and through the Charlie Foundation. Partly because of the movie and television exposure, there has been renewed scientific research in this diet. Some evidence exists that epileptic adults may benefit from this diet, or a less rigorous one such as a modified Atkins diet.
The standard Ketogenic Diet contains 80% fat and 20% protein and carbohydrate by weight. Foods high in carbohydrates such as bread, grains, pasta, starchy fruits and vegetables, and sugar are eliminated and replaced by high fat foods such as butter and cream. The diet is available in approximately 75 centers located in some 45 countries. Research is underway to see if this diet can deal with some other medical problems.
This looks like a tasty diet.
The Ketogenic Diet is not a diet that children and young adults can undertake lightly. It must be considered as serious medical therapy, which means that serious complications may arise. Among the easily treatable side effects patients may incur low-grade acidosis and constipation. Some patients may see their cholesterol increase by about 30%. Another problem is the much greater likelihood of kidney stones, affecting about 5% of dieters. So parents must carefully discuss the pros and cons of the Ketogenic Diet with medical specialists before committing their child to it. However, in about 20% of the cases, traditional epilepsy treatment may be ineffective and this diet may be the solution, as in the case of Charlie Abrahams.