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Epilepsy is a brain disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. According to World Health Organization (WHO), epilepsy is a common neurological disease, with around 50 million people living with the condition worldwide. Most of these epilepsies (80 per cent) are from developing countries. It is estimated that about 10 million people in India suffer from epileptic seizures. Every year, November 17 is observed as National Epilepsy Day in India to create awareness about this chronic disease.
Does diet effect epilepsy? This is one of the frequently asked questions related to epilepsy.
Dr Vinny Sood, Senior Consultant-Neurology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Gurugram, says "Dietary changes represent a potentially valuable adjuvant to other epilepsy treatment such as anticonvulsant medications and epilepsy surgery. Certain diets can improve seizure control."
According to Dr Sood, two types of diet are recommended for people diagnosed with epilepsy. Modified Atkins Diet (high fat, high protein, low carbohydrate) and Ketogenic Diet (high fat, adequate protein and low carbohydrates).
She explains, "Common feature of these diets is that they eliminate sugar and all sweets. Dietary changes include step toward natural whole food diet. Patients need to eliminate simple sugars. One needs to eliminate these foods completely for severe weeks. Once you eliminate sugar, your desire to have it become less. Patients need to take whole natural food which have little or no processing."
However, Dr Vinny cautions that these diets should not be initiated without medical supervision.
On the contrary, certain foods may worsen epileptic seizures. Dr Vinny advises epilepsy patients to avoid certain stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, betel nuts, herbal remedies which are known to trigger seizures.
Dr Vinny concludes that dietary alteration comprises an intriguing and novel approach to epilepsy treatment.
This National Epilepsy Day, educate yourself about this brain disorder and help increase the disease awareness among people. Patients and their families suffer from stigma and discrimination in many countries due to lack of awareness about this disease.
Remember, one can control epileptic seizures. Most people living with epilepsy (WHO estimates say up to 70 per cent) could live seizure- free if diagnosed and treated properly. However, majority of patients living in low-income countries do not get the required treatment.
If you have been diagnosed with epilepsy, take medications regularly as advised by doctor. Avoid alcohol and tobacco use as these can provoke seizures.
The National Epilepsy Awareness Month (NEAM) 2022 is observed under the theme "There is no NEAM without ME."
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