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Jan 18, 2014 07:02 AM EST

High-Fat, Low-Carb Diet Helps Control Epileptic Seizures, Study

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A Ketogenic diet (high-fat, adequate-protein and low-carbohydrate) can be used to control epileptic seizures, according to a McGill University and the University of Zurich study.

The ketogenic diet that was mainly recommended to patients suffering from epilepsy lost its popularity post-1950s once anticonvulsant drugs were available. But, these drugs carry many side-effects including reduced brain activity.

Researchers found a direct link between metabolism in brain cells and their ability to transmit signals.

"Inhibition in the brain is commonly targeted in clinical practice," Derek Bowie, Canada Research Chair in Receptor Pharmacology at McGill and corresponding author of the study, said in a press release. "For example, drugs that alleviate anxiety, induce anesthesia, or even control epilepsy work by strengthening brain inhibition. These pharmacological approaches can have their drawbacks, since patients often complain of unpleasant side effects."

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes recurring seizures. The disorder affects 2.3 million adults and 467,711 children, aged 0-17, in the United States, according to CDC.

Previous researches showed that metabolism and signalling in brain cells are two distinct processes. Since these two processes have found to be interconnected, the seizures in epilepsy patients can be controlled by following the diet, instead of drugs.

"Since our study shows that brain cells have their own means to strengthen inhibition, our work points to potentially new ways in which to control a number of important neurological conditions including epilepsy," said Bowie.

The ketogenic diet has also found effective in weight loss, reverse diabetes, prevent dementia, and heart disease.

The study has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

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