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Sunday, 12 November 2017

How a high-fat diet helped curb a Laval child's daily seizures

Tiana Raposo had up to 500 seizures every day, was unable to eat or respond as part of neurological disease

At the age of two, Tiana Raposo started having up to 500 seizures every single day and nothing seemed to help keep the attacks under control.

The first time the Laval toddler's symptoms manifested was on Aug. 29, 2013. That's when her mother Linda Florio got a phone call from Tiana's daycare.

"She fell off the toilet and hit her head and she was a little bit not responsive," she said. "She ended up vomiting."

Until that day, Tiana behaved like any other child, her mom said.

On top of the seizures, during which her eyes would roll into the back of her head, Tiana would not speak, eat, or respond.

"It was a dark time, and I never thought we would come out of that period," Florio said. "I thought, this is our life now."

A promising diagnosis and unexpected treatment

During her seven months in hospital, Tiana underwent multiple medical treatments but nothing seemed to help.

After a week spent in the intensive care ward at the Montreal Children's Hospital, where Tiana was tested for a number of ailments including concussion and meningitis, her neurologist Dr. Bradley Osterman suggested the toddler could have a rare neurological disorder.

Anti-NDMA receptor encephalitis is an autoimmune disease that affects perception of reality, human interaction, the formation of memory and automatic functions, according to the Anti-NDMA Receptor Encephalitis Foundation.

"Dr. Osterman said 'everything she's doing, her epilepsy, her convulsions, the fact that she stopped talking and eating… I think it's encephalitis," Florio said.

"[Tiana's] immune system produced bad antibodies, which killed the right antibodies," said her father Jason Raposo. 

After trying a number of medical treatments that failed to lessen the severity of the symptoms, Osterman told the family he wanted to try a new method: a very high-fat diet.

Through the ketogenic diet, the results were noticeable almost immediately — four weeks after Tiana changed her food intake, the number of seizures she was having per day diminished drastically.

And although Tiana, who is now six, still has some developmental delays, it's been a year and a half since she's had a convulsion.

"It changed our life. [Tiana] started talking and walking again, her eye contact improved, and she became more responsive," said Florio.

A medical first? 

This is the first time this treatment method has been used to treat epileptic symptoms in a patient as young as Tiana, said Osterman.

"Looking at the literature, I am not aware of another case where [the ketogenic diet] has been tried, especially with this much success," he said. 

For Osterman, improvement was visible right away. 

"Her convulsions reduced quickly. We had more than a year without convulsions, with a return to a fairly normal development last year," Osterman said. 

The neurologist is hopeful that Tiana will one day recover completely from the disease and catch up, despite her developmental delays.

"It's very encouraging to see how much [she] has recovered in the last year," he said. ​

High-fat diet treatment explained

Marie-Josée Trempe, Tiana's nutritionist, said the effect of nutrition on the body is underestimated by many.

"This diet has existed for a long time," Trempe said, adding that it was first used in the 1920s.

"Neurologists usually try medication first, and if it doesn't work, then they try diet."

First and foremost, Tiana's diet contains little to no carbohydrates — though some fruits and vegetables are allowed, and some foods high in protein.

Most of the time, though, Tiana is eating foods high in fat. That means grub like avocados, mayonnaise, and oil.

The ketogenic diet strictly moderates carbohydrate intake, replacing the majority of carb consumption with protein and fat. 

While the breakdown varies, a typical ketogenic diet consists of fats providing 70 to 80 per cent of all calories, with proteins accounting for just about 10 to 20 percent, and carbs only five to 10 per cent.

"We don't know exactly how it works, but [the diet] forces the body to use fat as a source of energy instead of carbohydrates, and it creates ketones, which go to the brain, and seem to give good results," Trempe said.

Patients usually follow the diet for two years, then slowly wean off it, she added.

"It's temporary, that's why the younger they are, the better."



Carol Blackburn said...

How wonderful. More physicians need to use diet instead of drugs; and use it first such as to lower cholesterol.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Wow, that's fascinating. Most people don't realize what a profound effect their diet can have on their health. I read a book in the '70s called "Nutrition and Your Mind," and it was a real eye-opener. I've forgotten most of what's in the book, so it's probably time to read it again. (Then again, most of the info is probably a bit out-dated by now.)

Valerie-Jael said...

How wonderful that the diet helped so well. I hope she can stay healthy. Hugs, Valerie

Sami said...

That's fabulous,hope she makes a complete recovery.
I wish Doctors would prescribe "good nutrition" instead of giving out scripts for medication.

Francisco Manuel Carrajola Oliveira said...

Muito interessante este artigo.
Uma boa semana.

Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
O prazer dos livros

Terri said...

That is so amazing! I wish all doctors would look at diet first begfore they shove the pills at us...but then, it's also our responsibility to follow a good diet, too. Something I am terrible at. The problem is, most of us sail through our teens, twenties, thirties and some even fourties...and then all our bad choices come back to haunt us. I can no longer eat like before. And I have no fantasies that I can cure all the damage that has already been done, but I have begun to try to erase the sugar and carbs from my diet. I hope it's not too late.
Kudos to this mom for saving her child's life.

Debbie said...

this is SO interesting!! i have seizures as related to having MS - and have to take a lot of medication for them. really amazing!!!

Lowcarb team member said...

It was Hippocrates who said '“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”....

I do believe that diet and our lifestyle can play a role in our health and well-being.
In my family there is a history of Alzheimer's (also known as Type 3 Diabetes). I have reduced my daily carb intake to no more than 50 a day, I eat moderate protein and higher (healthy) fats. Will it make a difference? I don't know for sure, but there is a growing amount of research to say it may!

MS is of course a totally different thing, that I know little about, but looking at videos, reading articles it is perhaps possible that Dr Wahls has a point?

See more about that here

I am not a medical person I only pass on articles/reports that could be of interest to readers. Personal research and consultation with a medical team is always recommended.

Thanks to you all for your comments on this post.

All the best Jan