Nutrition and Epilepsy

Epilepsy Information 2012

Nutrition and Epilepsy: How Food Affects Seizures

Epilepsy is a condition that greatly changes the life of an individual. There are several approaches on how to manage this disorder – pharmacologic treatment or the use of medicines is the most popular one. However, apart from taking medications, epileptic patients can manage their illness through other methods such as following a well-balanced diet. Nutrition and epilepsy are related with each other. If a person with epilepsy strives to religiously follow a certain type of diet, his or her chance of getting seizure episodes are reduced.

Nutrition and epilepsy – is there a special diet to avoid seizures?

The truth is, there is no “special diet” for epilepsy. However, epileptic patients can follow a general rule of maintaining proper balance in their food choices. Also, they need to remember that not eating enough food with vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) can increase one’s seizure tendencies. In this case, following the general diet might not be enough. A patient may be required to specifically choose foods that are rich in vitamin B6 such as green leafy vegetables to combat pyridoxine deficiency and prevent seizures. For severe vitamin B6 deficiency, supplementation may be necessary.

Can low mineral levels in the body affect epilepsy?

Part of the subject concerning nutrition and epilepsy is the question of whether low mineral levels in the body could cause a seizure attack. Minerals such as calcium, sodium, and magnesium have significant effects on one’s brain activity and thus, a deficiency of these minerals can indeed cause epileptic seizures.

Fortunately, seizures due to low mineral levels rarely happen unless malnutrition or other underlying conditions are present. For instance, sodium deficiency may be a result of medications like diuretics, over-hydration, and/or hormonal imbalances. Kidney diseases and hormonal disorders can affect calcium levels. Magnesium levels in the body are reduced by alcoholism and malnutrition.

Nutrition and epilepsy – the stand on smoking, alcohol and caffeine

Taking too much alcohol and food and/or beverages with caffeine can be detrimental to someone with epilepsy. This danger is even magnified if one is taking medications to prevent seizures since alcohol can interact with the drug and lower its potency. Smoking is dangerous to one’s safety – it can lead to fire! Caffeine is also not recommended, as it is a stimulant.

How about Ketogenic Diet?

Ketogenic Diet is a form of high fat diet that is usually recommended only for children with seizures. Excessive body fat produces ketones when broken down. These chemical substances (ketones) are said to prevent seizure. This diet is usually effective for children under sixteen years of age who are unresponsive to anticonvulsant therapy.

Nutrition and epilepsy are indeed related to each other. The diet of a person can greatly affect his or her body’s functioning. In epileptic individuals, the use of special diets to decrease body fat should be avoided as these leads to certain nutritional deficiencies. The best diet that every epileptic should embrace is one that’s friendly to the hormones, minerals, and brain chemicals of the body.