It Could be a Cure for Some

2016-0918-it-could-be-a-cure-for-some
Sammy Meyers, 9, center, with his parents, Mike and Becky Meyers, and sister, Macey Meyers, 10, on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016, at their home in Latham, N.Y. Sammy has eliminated his epileptic seizures by following a strict high-fat, low-carb diet. (Cindy Schultz / Times Union)

By Claire Hughes | Times Union

Making cotton candy was the 9-year-old’s volunteer job at the Saratoga Stroll for Epilepsy 2016, and it was one to which Matthew Rumenapp seemed naturally suited. Yet just four years ago, his parents wouldn’t let him near sugar or sweets.

Matt, however, doesn’t remember the seizures he used to have, or the painstakingly measured, high-fat, low-carb diet that controlled his epilepsy. He’s one of the 10-15 percent of epileptic children who have tried a ketogenic diet and become seizure-free.

These days, he eats anything he wants. Electroencephalograms (EEGs) still show abnormal brain activity, but he has no symptoms.

A ketogenic diet is unbalanced by design. Deprived of sufficient carbohydrates, the body resorts to fat as its primary source of energy. This results in a high level of ketone bodies in the brain. This state, which can also be achieved by fasting, has been known for centuries to help control seizures, though it’s not clear why.

Ketogenic diets are sometimes recommended for certain types of epilepsy, especially after at least three medications have failed to control seizures, local experts said. Studies have shown the diet to reduce seizures in more than half of the children whose seizures do not respond to medication.

Credits

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Thanks to the Rumenapp family for sharing their story; Claire Hughes for writing the article about Matthew Rumenapp; Times Union for committing its resources to publishing the article; Google for helping me find the article; all the people who, directly or indirectly made it possible to include the picture, text, and links in this post.

 

 

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