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High fat healing

MagazineMarch 1996 (Vol. 6 Issue 12)High fat healing

In the last five years it has become virtual dogma that a low fat diet is a healthy diet

In the last five years it has become virtual dogma that a low fat diet is a healthy diet. The same people who 20 years ago used to urge us to eat plenty of meat and cheese now encourage us toward vegetables and low fat salad dressings. But it is fool

A low fat diet is good for people who have eaten lots of meat and cheese and fat during their lies; it will help them re-balance and return to a more healthful equilibrium. On the other hand, a low fat diet is bad for people who have been eating raw food, fruit and vegetables for most of their lives. A high fat diet is also good for people with neurological disorders, particularly seizures. Seizures are not uncommon among young children, especially those who have been vaccinated (see WDDTY vol 6 no 8.)

Seizure disorder, or epilepsy, is an abnormality of the electric potentials, or waves, produced in the normal brain. We fluctate between the normal 9-14 alpha waves per second of the waking state, and the 3-6 per second delta waves of the sleeping state. In epilepsy, these waves go out of step, and an electro encephalograph will indicate abnormal firings of the brain's neurons.

Related neurological disorders include severe headaches, absence seizures or staring episodes, dizzy spells or impaired memory.

It is a fact little known by the general public that dietary modification cn help seizure disorders. For example, the medical community has long been aware that fasting improves and even eliminates seizures. In the early 1920s, R M Wilder introduced a diet intended to mimic the psychological effects of fasting. This diet consists of high amounts of fat (as much as 80 per cent of calories) and low amounts of protein and carbohydrate (no more than 20 per cent of calories) (Withrow, CD in Antiepileptic Drugs; Mechanisms of Anticonvulsant Action, G H Glaser, et al, ed., Raven Press, NY, 1980). Like fasting, it provokes ketosis, the production of certain acids called ketone bodies, which in the absence of dietary carbohydrates, will be metabolized instead of glucose as fuel for the brain (J Pediatrics, November 1976, 89 (5): 695-703). For this reason, it was named the ketogenic diet (KD). Ketosis is measured by testing the urine with dip and read sticks available in most chemists.

From early on, the KD showed clinical effectiveness in suppressing and avoiding seizures. Unfortunately, as it requires a great deal of effort to follow, and as even a small amount of extra carbohydrate can bring on seizures again within three and a half hours, the KD was eventually neglected in favour of anticonvulsant drugs.

Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, is currently using it with great success to treat intractable seizures. In one review of 58 cases, seizure control improved in 67 per cent of patients, and 75 per cent of these improved patients continued the diet for at least 18 months. Sixty four percent had AEDs (anti-epileptic drugs) reduced, 36 per cent became more alert and 23 per cent had improved behaviour (Epilepsia, 1992; 33 (6): 1132-6)


In St Louis Children's Hospital, 50 per cent of patients on the KD, from seven months to 38 years, had become free of seizures, and another 20 to 30 per cent had experienced considerable improvement in seizure control ( Dev Med Child Neur, 1977; 19: 535-44).

A version of the KD developed in Booth Hall Children's Hospital in Manchester requires that 50-70 per cent of the calories be given as medium chain triglycerides (MCT ), a type of oil, plus 11 per cent as other fats, plus 10 per cent protein and 19 per cent carboyhydrate, a more palatable combination. The MCT oil is recommended for frying, grilling and in baked foods; it's also given as part of an emulsion to be sipped throughout meals, consisting of 200 ml MCT oil, 200 ml water, a teaspoon of powdered gelatin and skim milk. At first, this diet may provoke temporary abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea, but rarely any other adverse effects; when effective, it may permit the reduction of anticonvulsant drugs without a return of the seizures.

Some researchers speculate that the high fat intake helps repair the myeli sheath around the nerves, a structure that is damaged in such widely disparate conditions as multiple sclerosis and adreno leuko dystrophy (the illness shown in the movie "Lorenzo's Oil"). Children with seizures need to remain very strictly on the diet, with not even the slightest deviation toward carbohydrates, for about two years. After that time, they can slowly widen their food intake.

A study from India includes the following daily foods used in the KD: butter and ghee, or clarified butter (6 oz); two eggs; bread and chapati breast (two pieces); whole milk (10 oz); meat or dal bean sauce (two oz); mixed vegetables (8 oz); and one orange. These foods could be divided as follows: for breakfast, one egg fried in 1/2 oz butter, one slice toast with 1/2 oz butter and 4 oz milk, with the orange as a midmorning snack. For lunch, you could have 4 oz mixed vegetables sauteed in 1 oz butter, 1 oz meat with 1 oz melted butter, and for afternoon snack 4 oz milk with 1 slice bread and 1/2 oz butter. Finally for dinner, the remaining 4 oz mixed vegetables could be sauteed in 1 oz butter, with 1 oz bean sauce in 1 oz ghee and 1 egg fried with 1/2 butter.

It goes without saying that you should never attempt this diet for you or a child or stop anti-convulsant medication without working in partnership with an experienced, qualified professional.

!AAnnemarie Colbin


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