The ketogenic diet as a treatment paradigm for diverse neurological disorders

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URL: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2012.00059/full

Journal: Frontiers in Pharmacology

Publication Date: 04/2012

Summary: Dietary and metabolic therapies have been attempted in a wide variety of neurological diseases, including epilepsy, headache, neurotrauma, Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, sleep disorders, brain cancer, autism, pain, and multiple sclerosis. The impetus for using various diets to treat – or at least ameliorate symptoms of – these disorders stems from both a lack of effectiveness of pharmacological therapies, and also the intrinsic appeal of implementing a more “natural” treatment. The enormous spectrum of pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the aforementioned diseases would suggest a degree of complexity that cannot be impacted universally by any single dietary treatment. Yet, it is conceivable that alterations in certain dietary constituents could affect the course and impact the outcome of these brain disorders. Further, it is possible that a final common neurometabolic pathway might be influenced by a variety of dietary interventions. The most notable example of a dietary treatment with proven efficacy against a neurological condition is the high-fat, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet (KD) used in patients with medically intractable epilepsy. While the mechanisms through which the KD works remain unclear, there is now compelling evidence that its efficacy is likely related to the normalization of aberrant energy metabolism. The concept that many neurological conditions are linked pathophysiologically to energy dysregulation could well provide a common research and experimental therapeutics platform, from which the course of several neurological diseases could be favorably influenced by dietary means. Here we provide an overview of studies using the KD in a wide panoply of neurologic disorders in which neuroprotection is an essential component.

Key Takeaways

The ketogenic diet has been shown to be neuroprotective and used in the treatment of epilepsy. The exact mechanisms of how the diet is protective against epilepsy is unclear, but it is thought that energy regulation plays a major role. Because the ketogenic diet does not rely on continuous inputs of carbohydrates, blood sugar levels remain constant. Without these large fluctuations in blood sugar, the energy supply to the brain is stable resulting in a reduction in seizures. Additionally, ketone bodies produced by burning fat are neuroprotective in their own way through a variety of actions. This dietary approach has been shown to be helpful in treating other neurologic conditions such as headache, neurotrauma, Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, sleep disorders, brain cancer, autism, pain, and multiple sclerosis.

Is The Ketogenic Diet The Best Treatment For Neurologic Diseases?

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