In the 1920s, before the introduction of anti-epileptic drug treatments, epileptic patients were put on the ketogenic diet, according to an article published in Epilepsia. The keto diet started as a method to stop seizures from occurring because of how food converts into energy.
On the ketogenic diet, the body goes through a process called ketosis, where fat is converted into ketones as an energy source. The standard non-keto diet runs off of carbohydrates instead of fat, and the body’s energy is derived from glucose made up of starches and sugars. This form of energy plays a part in our brain’s operations – which is why the keto diet was recommended for people with epilepsy. The presence of ketones reduces the excitability of the brain (known to cause seizures) by lowering glutamate levels while “enhanc[ing] the synthesis of GABA,” according to Brain Facts.
Though the keto diet has gained immense popularity in the last few years – with new products, recipes, and even keto-friendly restaurant options – it is a demanding lifestyle for people to keep up. The challenges of upholding a keto diet combined with the advances in modern pharma have not made the keto diet the primary diet for people with epilepsy. While beneficial to people with epilepsy, the keto diet is now used as a solution for drug-resistant epilepsy, according to the Cleveland Clinic.