November 2, 2009

Review: "The Ketogenic Diet"

A few days ago I read The Ketogenic Diet: A Treatment for Children and Others with Epilepsy by John M. Freeman et al. The authors are members of the Johns Hopkins team which has developed, preserved and championed the ketogenic diet. The book is in its fourth edition and, after reading it, I can see why it is required reading for almost everyone commencing the ketogenic diet. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about this alternative, non-alternative treatment for epilepsy!

Due to decades of scientific research done on the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet, the authors stress that it is not to be viewed as “alternative” medicine. The diet IS traditional western scientific medicine. The mechanisms that grant the diet’s effectiveness are as well understood as (and even more well studied than) the mechanisms which govern modern seizure medication’s effectiveness. Sadly, by this I mean, that all epilepsy treatments remain a bit of a mystery to the scientific community.

The book is every book you’d want or need to start the ketogenic diet rolled into one. It covers the history of epilepsy and the ketogenic diet. It attempts to explain the possible biological and chemical mechanisms at work in the ketogenic diet and even the very promising, modified Atkins diet. The Calculations section is basically a workbook, which leaves one more confident about being the sanity check for your dietician. The recipes (both Ketogenic and Atkins) are excellent, and in this section and through out the book, the diet’s use in infants is heavily covered! Lastly, the book is peppered with anecdotes and examples drawn from a vast pool of humanity, which bring the content to life.

While the book is forthright on the limitations and expectations one should have regarding the ketogenic diet (I am now back to being pessimistic about Bertrand’s odds of being helped by the diet), I was heartened by a section entitled “Speculation: The Future Role of the Ketogenic Diet.” The authors hypothesize several additional uses for the ketogenic diet outside of epilepsy--the one that caught my eye was as a treatment for cancer. If I ever get cancer (brain cancer in particular) I have nothing to lose by trying this experiment!
“Brain tumors appear to feed on glucose. Indeed they “steal” glucose from the surrounding brain tissue, causing the surrounding tissue to die. Whereas normal brain tissue can use ketones such as beta-hydroxy butyric acid (BOH) as an energy source, tumor tissue does not appear to have the ability to metabolize ketones... Would it be possible to “starve” a tumor by reducing its glucose supply, while feeding the brain with ketones?”
Fascinating, huh? :)

1 comment :

  1. You are a great book review writer! This looks to be a very good book.
    Love, Titi Lili