Have you ever heard of the ketogenic diet for stroke patients? Surprisingly not that many people have even though it’s been in clinical use for over 80 years – mostly for the treatment of epilepsy. However, recent science has revealed that traumatic brain injury and stroke survivors can benefit from the ketogenic diet. Here’s what you need to know.
A Foreword on Diets
First off, we want to share a foreword on diets since we live in a society obsessed with ‘quick fixes’ and radical diet plans. While the information we’re about to share with you is scientifically proven, it should not be the only thing you’re doing to recover. Instead it should be used to complement your rehabilitation.
You should also consult your doctor before starting the ketogenic diet. They may recommend having your ketone levels regularly checked.
Basics of the Ketogenic Diet
At its core, the ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. Heavy restriction of carbs through the ketogenic diet pushes our body into a state known as ketosis where ketones are produced during the breakdown of fats in the liver. Ketones are present when there is a lack of insulin in the blood stream, and insulin regulates how the body uses glucose (i.e. carbohydrates). As you can see, the lack of carbohydrates in the ketogenic diet is what causes the increase of ketones in the body.
A word of warning: By restricting carbs, your intake of high-fat foods will increase, which are much higher in calories. Be careful not to indulge in high-fat food and break your ketogenic diet later in the day. This will not only ruin the effects of the diet, but it will also cause you to gain weight because of the increase in calories. So be diligent about sticking with it, and if you need a guide on what foods to eat, there’s a great resource at the end of this article.
The Science behind the Ketogenic Diet for Stroke Patients
Now let’s dig into the science behind why this diet can benefit neurological injury.
Previously we explained that the ketogenic diet increases the amount of ketones circulating throughout the body. According to this study, increased levels of ketones are a more efficient fuel for the brain and may increase brain mitochondria. This means more energy for the brain – something that every stroke survivor can benefit from.
While the study states that the benefits of the ketogenic diet for stroke survivors is not well understood (due to the small number of studies), the brain-boosting benefits of this diet make it worth deep consideration.
The Ketogenic Diet for Other Neurological Conditions
While the benefits of the ketogenic diet on stroke recovery are less studied, there is substantial evidence for its beneficial effect on seizures and brain tumors. The studies are quite breathtaking:
With proper compliance, the ketogenic diet can have longer lasting effects for reducing seizures than medication – and it has fully cured seizures in some children. The specialized diet has also been effectively used to shrink brain tumors in two children who had inoperable brain cancer. Sound powerful?
Some call it magic, we call it science. Now that you know how the ketogenic diet can help boost your stroke recovery, do you think you’ll give it a try?
Cutting carbs can be hard, so here’s a good resource on what foods to eat on the ketogenic diet.