Healthy Fats For Epilepsy Management

November 5, 2022

The average adult brain weighs about 3 pounds and is made up of at least 60% fat. For many of us, diet has an impact on brain function and today we’ll share research about how healthy fats are used for epilepsy management. We’ll touch on what foods stress the brain, how the ketogenic diet got started, and what small changes to your nutrition can produce big results, whether you suffer from seizures or are simply wanting a healthier brain and body.

Join our Dishing Up Nutrition Facebook Community!


Podcast Powered by Podbean

Similar Podcast Episodes:

Print Transcript


TERESA: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition, brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. Each week we bring you a radio show or podcast on a variety of different health topics that are affected by what you're eating. So your nutrition. We talk about osteoporosis, acne, PMS, menopause, heart disease, and of course about weight loss. So we've got you covered head to toe. Literally your head; we talk about mental wellness and dental health, and we go all the way down to your feet with plantar fasciitis. 

Today we have more of a new topic to discuss, and we're going to talk about how healthy fats are used for the treatment of epilepsy. I am Teresa Wagner. I am a registered and licensed dietitian, and I am in studio today with Leah Kleinschrodt.

LEAH: Yeah. Great. Good job.

TERESA: I don't know why that vowel at the end of your name always throws me.

LEAH: You're not the only one. Trust me.

What is epilepsy?


TERESA: Leah is also a registered and licensed dietitian. And as we get started today, since this is a new topic, let's just go over what epilepsy is. It's a neurological disorder. So neurological disorder, it just means it affects our brain, our nervous system, right? So it's our brain, our spinal cord, and our nerves that go throughout our entire body.

Epilepsy is characterized by recurrent seizures, and these seizures can vary from very brief and basically unnoticeable to very long and vigorous shaking episodes. And this is due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

LEAH: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And one way I like to think about that, and maybe this will resonate with some of the listeners, is if you've ever gone to a firework show and okay, they shoot off the fireworks, you know, for 20 minutes or so, and then all of a sudden there's that grand finale at the end and they shoot off all the fireworks all at once. There's not really necessarily a rhyme or a reason as to which ones explode first. It just, they kind of all go off at once.

Well, that grand finale type of situation, that's what is kind of going on in the brain at that point. Those brain circuits get overloaded at any one given time. Like too much electrical activity, kind of this surge of electrical activity. And then that results in those seizures. And exactly like you said Teresa, like it might, they might be very minor or it might be a very major episode.

TERESA: Yeah, that's a good way of visualizing it.

LEAH: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So yes, and this is, I am so excited to do this topic. Like you said, Teresa, this is, we've never covered epilepsy actually on Dishing Up Nutrition. We might have mentioned it here and there on a show, but never actually done a little more in depth dive into, you know, what can we do nutrition wise for that. And as we were preparing for the show, I actually came across like this history, this rich history actually, of nutrition and the connection with epilepsy.

Some history of epilepsy


So I just wanted to share a little bit of that history because we both thought it was actually really interesting. You know, for much of history, seizures and epilepsy, they were this deep mystery as to where they came from and how to treat them. Somewhere along the way, and I mean, we're going back into millennia into the BCs.

A couple of healers discovered that if you make a person fast, so you take away all their food for, you know, maybe a couple of days or a couple of weeks, people's seizures went away. So people who were afflicted with seizures and epilepsy; they probably didn't even call it that at that point, but their seizures went away. The problem with fasting is you cannot fast indefinitely. Like eventually you have to go back to eating. Everyone has to resume eating at some point.

And unfortunately, when people went back to eating the seizures came back. So bring us into the early 1900s then. Fasting for seizures: that was starting to come back on the radar again. And again, there, there's always that conundrum of like, well, we can't fast people forever. So scientists and doctors, they started asking these questions. Okay, how do we mimic the fasting state in the human body, but not starve the person and still give them some of that nourishment?

High fat, low carb diet shows benefit for epilepsy


So eventually, I'll kind of just skip over some of the details there. But eventually they discovered that if they had people who have epilepsy, if they eat a very high fat diet, very low carbohydrate diet, it did just that. It kind of provided this alternative fuel source for the brain and the body. So the body was running more on fat, kept the carbohydrates very low, and it provided the same benefits as fasting. It gave these people great relief from their seizures. And then a couple years later, it wasn't until there was a doctor at the Mayo Clinic here in Rochester, Minnesota who actually just came up with a name, he proposed that it was these ketones, this byproduct of fat breakdown that was actually the therapeutic benefit of this kind of diet. So hence the name ketogenic diet, which we'll talk a little bit more about here.

So this became popular in the 1920s, 1930s. It was actually being used widely by doctors and dietitians. In the forties, it kind of fell out of favor, though. It put on the back burner when some of the newer medications were coming out. And then in the 1990s, it came back on the radar again with this Hollywood producer whose son was having a hundred seizures a day. And from a very young age; diagnosed with epilepsy at one year old. They tried everything under the sun, found a ketogenic diet. It within 48 hours, his son's seizures had disappeared. And he made it his mission then that he was going to bring this to light and use his kind of pull in Hollywood to make this widespread and to, and to just disseminate this knowledge worldwide, even.

TERESA: Right. Because between the forties and the nineties, basically the ketogenic diet was forgotten about.

LEAH: Correct.

TERESA: I mean, it was hard for this producer to find this.

LEAH: Yes. Yep. He had to dig and he went through everything else first. They tried all the things, and finally just kind of stumbled upon this. So now, you know, even though it's likely still a little underutilized, the ketogenic diet is used, it's an accepted dietary therapy for epilepsy. And it can just really help so many patients, especially if the medications either are only helping a little or maybe not even helping at all. So this is, it can still be a wonderful tool for those who are afflicted.

Healthy fats and water help the brain function


TERESA: Yeah. Well, I think that that is just so interesting. So to take it further then, what we want to do today is to explore more in depth how healthy fats can help the brain function better. In many of our nutrition classes, we show people that the brain is made up of about 60% fat. That's what it's made up of. And it has a really high water content as well.

So it makes sense that if we want the brain to work well, we need to keep it hydrated and feed it healthy fats: it's building blocks. When it comes to water, what we recommend is filtered water. Sodas sweetened with high fructose corn syrup do not hydrate well and seem to short circuit the brain. So when I'm working with a person with epilepsy, I suggest eliminating all those high sugar beverages: sodas, coffee drinks, juice drinks, sports drinks, so that we can achieve better seizure control.

And I want them to upgrade to eight to 10 glasses of filtered water. I don't usually, or I try to keep them away from the tap water because there's chemicals in, in tap water. Right? And for my fellow house plant people, we know that if we water our house plants with water from the tap, we're going to kill our house plants. So that should be an indication of what's going on in the water that maybe it's not so bad for humans, but it has enough chemicals to kill some of our plants.

LEAH: Yep absolutely.

TERESA: All, you know, what I will say though is tap water though is much better than juice drinks or soda. So I like to just help my, my clients make these small changes that can really have some of those big results. Even if it means just reducing it by one seizure a week or a day or a month, You know, just bringing that down. That can be really helpful.

LEAH: Yep, yep. Yeah, even just those small little changes. And, and if our listeners are interested in just learning more about that tap water perspective and stuff, I know we've done several shows in the past about you know, importance of filtered water, just kind of what's in our water system that we might not be aware of.

TERESA: Yes, we have. I think you could just go to our website and just put in radio show and, and water.

LEAH: Yeah. Dishing Up Nutrition, water, or something like that, or yeah. Something along those lines.

TERESA: Yeah. Mm-Hmm. And it's so important. Drinking clean water is very important. Well, you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. I am Teresa Wagner, a registered and licensed dietitian, and I am in studio today with Leah, who is also a dietitian. And today we are discussing the role fats play in the management of epilepsy.


LEAH: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Do you still have Halloween candy sitting around? It may surprise you: those little fun size candy bars are just packed with ingredients. My son, who's four, we went out trick or treating this year at least here in Minnesota, was one of those really nice Halloweens. Right?

TERESA: It was a rare one.

LEAH: Yeah, a rare one. So you savor that; went out trick or treating, He had a great time; brought back the candy. So being the dietitian I am, had to just take a look at some of the ingredients labels. And so I thought I'd just pick out one candy bar, not even say the name, but just read you the ingredients list. The first ingredient is sugar; surprise, surprise.

Then it's chocolate, then milk, then corn syrup, dextrose. So I just highlight there like those two things. Just other forms of sugar, the corn syrup and the dextrose. Then hydrogenated palm oil, artificial flavors, red number 40, yellow number six, blue number one, and blue number two. All of these ingredients in one little candy bar.

TERESA: Yeah. And just to note that three fun size candy bars is about the size of a full size candy bar. And so for many of us, if we'd have one full size candy bar, we'd be like, Okay, I'm done.

LEAH: Yeah, like, that's good enough.

TERESA: But the fun size are tricky, aren't they? Because how often do we say to ourselves, oh, that's just small, so I can have a whole bunch and not, and have more than three. I mean, I'm sure I've been guilty of that; not this year though, because I have not had a single piece of candy, because I don't, I did the no sugar over Halloween or not no sugar, but no candy over Halloween challenge. And so far so good. I’ve been successful.

LEAH: Yeah. Good for you. Exactly. Or if you start with that intention of like, I'm just going to have one or two, but then you get the taste for it. I know that's typically my problem is like once they, once you kind of get that taste for it, it's hard to put those boundaries up after that. So, yeah. So just take inventory of that for yourselves listeners. Bringing us back into our topic today of epilepsy and healthy fats, let's, let's just talk again, as I mentioned before, I gave us some of the brief history of epilepsy and fasting and ketogenic diet.

More on the high fat, low carb diet to control epilepsy


So as I mentioned, just the, our more modern researchers have really looked into the past and looked into the research and the clinical trials and what was happening with these patients back in the early 1900s even to determine what diet was working best to help these patients control their seizures and control their epilepsy. And the diet that they came to the conclusion that was working the best and produce the best outcomes was that diet that was high in fat, low in carbohydrates, and just a medium kind of moderate amount of protein.

TERESA: Yeah. A low carb, high fat diet has been proven to be the most effective for many types of epilepsies. This type of diet has resulted in the reduction and the frequency of seizures. One research study found that after clients followed that high fat, low carb diet for five months, 50% of the patients had 90% reduction in their seizure activity.

LEAH: That's amazing.

TERESA: And many other studies have reported that one half of their patients had 70 to 90% reduction in seizures when their patients followed a high fat, low carb diet for several months. So, I mean, I don't, that's, that's really good evidence that this diet works.

LEAH: Mm-Hmm. Yeah. And I mean, for people who have epilepsy, what would you give to have just like that amount of reduction in your seizures, like that amount of your life back? And, and just, again, by changing some of the things that you're eating. And it's not always the easiest thing to do, but is it worth it? That's, that's the question. So that high fat, low carb diet is it's called a ketogenic diet. We said that term a couple of times before and, and we're going to dive a little bit into the biochemistry of what's going on when we eat this way.

Biochemistry of low carb, high fat eating


So when you eat that very high fat diet and really restrict those carbohydrates down very minimally, the brain and the body, their energy now is coming primarily from fat and specifically ketones, which are just, again, it's a kind of like a type of fat that the body gets when breaking down other types of fats.

And so then the brain and the body, they're not running on sugar or they're not running on that glucose. And we talk a lot about blood sugar, you know, in our other shows. So originally this ketogenic diet, it was developed or it was recognized as a therapeutic diet to help manage a medical condition. So that's epilepsy. But nowadays, I think a lot of people hear ketogenic diet or keto, and they think more weight loss or more like kind of helping that metabolism a little bit more.

Now a ketogenic diet, when you break it down, we're looking at 70 to 80% of the diet is fat. So it's very high fat, about 20% protein. And then the last maybe five to 10% of that diet is from carbohydrates. Now, in the past, many doctors specializing in the care of children with epilepsy recommended this ketogenic diet to help those children out.

For many it really did. Teresa, you just mentioned a couple of research studies that said, you know, at least for at least half of the patients who try that ketogenic diet, it dramatically reduces kind of like that overactivity in the brain. And now nowadays, I mean, it's for adults also. This is for kids. It's for teenagers. It's for adults. It's for everybody who suffers with epilepsy. So we've had clients, I know I've worked with a couple, and I'll talk about them later. I've worked with a couple clients recently have that epilepsy diagnosed and, and we've been working on what can we do to help just kind of protect that brain a little bit more.

TERESA: Yeah. And it really, you know, talking about that biochemistry a little bit, when, when, when carbohydrates, so foods that break down into sugar are kept very low, the body adjusts. It's like, well, we don't have sugar anymore, so what are we going to do? It adjusts by using ketones for energy. Restricting carbs, what it does is it prompts the fat cells, so the, the fat cells in your body to release the fatty acids, the things that make up those fat cells. So it releases those fatty acids, which then go to the liver and they get converted into ketones. The brain loves ketones for energy. It's like high octane fuel or premium gas for the brain.

Unfortunately, eating carbohydrates prevents the body from making ketones. So then rather than being able to use that high octane brain fuel, those ketones, it has to use like, there's no other choice. It has to use the regular unleaded gas basically for fuel, which is the sugar. Right? So the brain just loves that, that for energy. As with any health condition, of course, food matters. And when I'm working with clients, I like to look at the big picture of health. The ketogenic diet has been shown to be effective over time to help manage epilepsy for many patients.

In fact, like we were saying, research has found that 40 to 50% of children who follow this type of diet have fewer, 50% fewer seizures. This style of eating produces great results, but it is not easy to follow, especially for children. And frankly, it's not easy for adults either. With any health problem, we try to consider all aspects of the quality of food and drink. At the beginning of our discussion, I shared that the brain is made up of water and fat and the quality of the water that we drink matters. The quality of the fat we eat matters.

What are some brain stressors that need to be reduced?


Soda has water in it, but is not good for the brain. Chicken nuggets contain fat, but what it's deep fried in is refined oils. So that's damaged fat. It's not good for the brain. So to reduce seizure activity, it is important to reduce those brain stressors such as the soda and the refined vegetable and seed oil. The refined vegetable.

LEAH: Easy for you to say.

TERESA: And seed oils. Yes. This, one of the first steps that we can do is to, you know, eliminate the soda, eliminate those fried foods, have water on hand to drink because sugar and chemicals in sodas and other drinks like that, they excite the brain and increase the potential for that seizure activity.

LEAH: Yep. Yep. Exactly. Yeah. When you just, again, overload, overload that sugar, then it's, it just again, causes those brain surges and can, can create more seizure activity or just more of those episodes.

TERESA: Mm-hmm. Yep.

LEAH: And when you know, when clients make that connection between what they are drinking and how their brain operates or how many seizures they have, that's a huge motivator too to make some of those changes. Right? And maybe, maybe start carrying around that water bottle or maybe you really do start to look at what's in your refrigerator or what am I bringing into the house that might be, again, just overloading that brain with the sugar; just exciting that brain a little bit too much.

TERESA: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.

LEAH: Yeah. And as a, as a mom, you know, that's something that I'm very conscious of and with my kids. And one substitute that I'll do again, I have a four-year-old son; I'll give him a little like our Key Greens and put that in some water so you get that little bit of sweet.

TERESA: Yeah. What a great idea.

LEAH: Yeah. But the, again, like a little dose of some fruits and vegetables, some antioxidants, and he loves the taste, so it's a great way to just have a little treat, but not overload his little brain with sugar.

TERESA: Right. It's, it's water with a little bit of nutrients in it.

LEAH: Yep. Totally. Exactly.

TERESA: But he doesn't know that.

LEAH: Nope. He doesn't need to know that just yet.

TERESA: We understand that we are all so busy these days that we don't have time to cook homemade meals from scratch every day. If you're looking for inspiration for simple real food, real food meals that will last through the week, we invite you to join our chef, Marianne, for a virtual cooking class called Batch Cooking for Simple Dinners. It's this Wednesday at 6:00 PM. Those who have taken a class with Marianne know how she uses her wealth of knowledge to inspire us to make…

Sign Up for a Cooking Class


LEAH: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Perhaps you don't have any fun little fun size candy bars left, but what about the candy corn? What is in candy corn exactly. Has anybody ever looked at those ingredients?

TERESA: I don't know, but I feel like it tastes like wax. So my guess would be wax. But I bet you're going to tell us what the…

LEAH: Yeah, yeah. Let me tell you the ingredients. So if you look at that, kind of turn the package over, look at those ingredients. The first ingredient is sugar.

TERESA: No big surprise.

LEAH: Yeah, of course it is. We're talking about a candy. Then it's corn syrup, then it's dextrose, then it's honey. Okay, so let's just stop there. That's four different types of sugar right away at the beginning of the food label or, and the ingredients list. Then we get to gelatin from animal hide. So maybe then what you're talking about, like here's our maybe waxy type of component to it.

And then the red number three, yellow number six and yellow number five plus artificial flavors. So again, like we've got four different kinds of sugar and those are the first four ingredients listed in that candy corn. Then we've got artificial colors, artificial flavors. So if you've ever, you know, maybe overdone it a little bit and you don't even have to overdo it necessarily on the candy corn, but have, have you ever had some of that?

And just, you know, either that night or the next day just like, I don't know, that might not have sat so well with me. You know, kind of makes sense. Some people just really do not feel good at after snacking on those after that, you know, that leftover Halloween candy the next day.

TERESA: Yeah. There could be lots of reasons for that I think.

LEAH: Yeah. And we're just highlighting one. Absolutely.

TERESA: That's right. Well before break we were talking about how important it is to hydrate the brain and to drink water.

LEAH: Yes.

Fats and their importance for the brain


TERESA: Now let's turn the discussion to fats. The structure of the brain is made up of lots of different types of fats. Lots of different fatty components like phospholipids and cholesterol and choline. And then there's the essential fatty acids like the omega-3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA. And we really want to talk about DHA cause it's so important for the brain.

DHA fatty acids are found in breast milk. And then because it's so important, it's also put in, in the really high quality formula, baby formulas. That is correct. It's being added of course, because the manufacturers started to understand the importance for the development of children's brains.

LEAH: Yes.

TERESA: So once we're beyond breast milk and formula, we can get that DHA from the egg yolks of chickens who were pasture-raised.

LEAH: Mm-Hmm.

TERESA: And pasture-raised just means that these chickens were out roaming around. They were able to, in addition to eating the feed that the farmer gave them, that they're out able to peck around and eat bugs. And that's how they're getting that DHA is through that protein source. You know, sometimes they like advertise “vegetarian fed”. Well guess what? Chickens aren't vegetarians.

LEAH: Yep.

TERESA: They're omnivores just like we are.

LEAH: Yep.

TERESA: So those egg yolks, when you get those pasture-raised egg yolks, that's why they're that deep orange color. Because they've got lots of nutrients in it. Cause they had a good diet. Speaking of chickens, the fat in chicken nuggets that are fried in refined damaged fats, well these fats can interfere with how the brain functions. And as a mother of three kids, I understand the desire for chicken nuggets, but I am concerned about the types of fats that my, that my kids are eating. And so you really have to read those labels if you're going to look for chicken nuggets. Most of them, even though you are not deep frying them, they were pre deep fried.

LEAH: Yep.

TERESA: Right? And then you might bake them off. In today's food culture, it is not easy to avoid those refined fats. But as we look down the road, I, you know, for the health, for the wellbeing of our children as they grow into adults, I believe it's worth the effort.

LEAH: Mm-Hmm. Yeah. And again, some of those, sometimes it's just those small changes, you know, look at your salad dressings and the next time, you know, if it has some of those refined oils and we'll, we'll talk about those. But something like the soybean oil and the canola oil, when you run out, upgrade the next time, just make sure and once you make that change, make it stick. Like now you know what to get from now on. Now you've upgraded that salad dressing. What's next on the list? And you can just kind of change little by little just to make it a little more digestible.

TERESA: Yeah. It's not so overwhelming.

What kinds of fats are good for brain function?


LEAH: Yep, absolutely. So let's talk about, let's, let's do a quick reminder of the fats that we want to have in our diet that are good for that brain function. And we will circle back into the fats that interfere with good brain function, but the fats and the oils that are the best things to keep in your kitchen or to look for if you are getting something that has an ingredients label, you know, olive oil, butter, avocado oil and coconut oil. These are all natural, cold pressed, minimally refined. They're not those damaged oils.

TERESA: Yeah. And let's talk about coconut oil just a minute. Coconut oil is especially good for the ketogenic diet because it contains medium chain triglycerides or MCT. So some people might know MCT oil.

LEAH: Yep.

TERESA: Now the reason why this is special is that most foods that have fat in them have either long chains or short chains. It's just the size of the fatty acid chain that it is so long or short chain. But coconut oil has medium chains and this is makes that coconut oil special because the body digests it differently and it can produce those ketones we were talking about before much more easy than the other types of fats, even though the other fats will do it.

LEAH: Yep.

TERESA: But the, but that MCT, the medium chain triglycerides can do that much more easily. And this then provides the brain with that high octane fuel that we're looking for so long as we keep the carbohydrates very low.

LEAH: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I think that that was a great point, Teresa, to highlight the coconut oil specifically and like you said, and you can buy MCT oil out there too, kind of that same type of benefit, but coconut oil’s more like just that, even that real whole food type of fat. And we've done, we have done shows about coconut oil and ketones and stuff like that on some of our other shows.

I know you and I were talking before we remember we've had Dr. Mary Newport on at least two of our shows I believe in the past. And her most recent one was from February 23rd, 2019. So just a few years ago. And the topic of that show was Ketogenic Diets for Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's. So, you know, for, again, our listeners out there, we are specifically focusing on epilepsy in this show, but the ketogenic diet is really being utilized for other neurological or kind of brain disorders, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and some of those other things.

TERESA: Mm-Hmm. So if you're checking the labels of most packaged foods, boxed foods, processed foods such as crackers, the, excuse me, the salad dressings that Leah mentioned, Pop Tarts, mac and cheese, even bread, you will find that they contain those refined damaged fats. If it says soybean oil, sunflower oil or vegetable oil, you don't want to be eating that food. These are the fats that interfere with the functioning of the brain.

Also, most pizza, whether it's at a restaurant or if you buy it frozen, contains one or more of these refined damaged oils. When we eat these damaged fats on a regular basis, the cell receptors can start to dysfunction. And in a sense there's a breakdown on how the brain can communicate. So if you have any neurological condition, like we're saying epilepsy, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, this is especially important. Sometimes there's that minor breakdown and other times it's more of a major breakdown. It's almost like those messages are getting all scrambled.

LEAH: Yeah. Yep. Exactly. Or again, like it's like that grand finale of fireworks coming out all at once.


Client stories: changing their nutrition to help epilepsy


LEAH: Yeah. So I just, I wanted to just talk about a couple of those clients that I've been seeing recently who came to me to change their nutrition to help their epilepsy. And it, it was really helpful. They were both actually already kind of bought in on the nutrition piece by the time they came to see me. So they were already like, they, they, their ears were already peaked or perked and they were tuned in.

TERESA: That's really helpful.

LEAH: Yeah, it's super helpful. And that's not always the case, but it is super helpful. So one of my clients had actually already jumped full bore kind of both feet in with that ketogenic diet approach. She was keeping her carbohydrates very, very low, high fat diet. And she had actually just been diagnosed with epilepsy within the last year. So, and so she kind of took this info, ran with it, and she noticed a huge difference just in how her brain was functioning, how she was feeling. She did lose some weight also. So, you know, she was happy with that.

But one thing that I thought was kind of interesting was, at one point after she had been on the ketogenic diet for a couple of months, she had to go in for a study to try to induce a seizure. I don't remember what that reason was necessarily, but they did, they did that testing and they could not induce that seizure. So I was like, I wonder just how much of that protective effect on the brain that ketogenic diet was providing her already.

TERESA: Yeah. That's so interesting.

LEAH: Mm-Hmm. And yeah, there was one other thing I was going to say about her, but it kind of slipped my mind. So we'll have to, I'll circle back to it if I think of it. So she's been, again, kind of, she's been doing really well. We've been making some tweaks so that she is still sleeping better and having good gut health and things like that as well. But she is doing a great job. And, and I'll just, I'll kind of launch into another one before our break.

You know, I have another client who was diagnosed with epilepsy actually as a teenager. She had brain surgery a couple of years ago, which really actually helped her seizures. But now she was looking to see, she kind of made this connection the more processed foods that she ate, the more she tended to, for her it was auras. So kind of like a pre-seizure warning type of thing. She noticed that the more sugar and more processed food she ate, the more aura she was getting. And I do want to talk just a little bit more in depth on her story because I think it's really interesting, but we do have to do our third break quick.

TERESA: You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Leah at the other breaks has mentioned that the ingredients of Halloween candy; yellow number five is found in many of the Halloween candies. What is wrong with yellow number five? Well, let's just look at the European Union. Their Food Standard’s agency has deemed it unsafe for kids, and foods containing yellow number five require a warning label. Studies have shown that yellow number five is associated with hyperactivity in children, hives, asthma, irritability, restlessness, depression, and having trouble sleeping. Many side effects with just that little treat. We believe that when you know better, you can do better.

LEAH: We'll be right back.


LEAH: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. As you listen to this show or podcast, I'm sure you realize food does matter when dealing with epilepsy. We also know changing your diet takes time. And it does take a lot of effort, especially initially in the beginning as you're trying to rework those habits. But we see such positive results. We encourage you to make several appointments so we can structure a plan just for you. If you are thinking if anything in this show has resonated for you, even if you don't have epilepsy and you're just thinking, I need to make some changes with my nutrition to better my health, you can give us a call at (651) 699-3438 and just look at our schedule, set up a time, meet with a specific counselor if that's what you want to do. And in the meantime, if you have questions, if you have questions specifically for me, I'm Leah Kleinschrodt, and you can email me. I work at our Woodbury office so you can email the office. And that is

Schedule a Nutrition Counseling Appointment

All right. So bringing us back into our topic, I was talking a little bit about two of the clients that I've worked with recently who came to me for epilepsy. And the second one I was talking about, for her, she didn't, she hadn't gone full bore into keto. She was just noticing that there was this big connection just in the amount of like the processed foods and the sugars that she was eating and how that was impacting how many auras she was having at any given time.

And really this connection for her, I wanted to point this out, this connection for her really became very pronounced because she spent a couple of months studying abroad in Europe and only had two auras that entire time that she was gone. She came back to the United States and had six auras within the first month.

TERESA: Oh wow.

LEAH: So for her, she was like, I really think there's this big connection just with like the types of foods that I was eating. Just a little more homemade, less processed over in Europe and, and just the foods are different over there versus coming back here. And getting just more immersed into that standard American diet type of culture and, and just noticing that uptick in her auras. So that was, I thought that was just really interesting and she had already made that connection for herself by the time that that she and I had met.

So, you know, as we, as we talk about the epilepsy connection to nutrition, ketogenic diet, high fat diet, I mean this is something again, some of, some of our clients, again, my one client was able to jump right into that ketogenic diet both feet and was able to follow this very carb-restrictive eating plan for, and she's been doing this for almost a year now for about nine months or so.

While others might not even necessarily need to go that far down that rabbit hole. They just might need to cut out some of those processed foods, balance their blood sugar a little bit better, maybe going gluten free or looking at some of those other more inflammatory type foods that might again, just be over exciting that brain.

But baseline we always want to try to make sure we're eating those real foods, removing the refined fats and oils, getting as much of that sugar out as we possibly can and replacing those things with our foods that have lots of nutrients in it. Like good quality meats, vegetables, good quality fats. I mean we understand that changing the diet and changing the way that we eat and some of the habits that we have around food, it can be hard but man, it can absolutely be worth it.

TERESA: Right. And Leah, don't you think that there is some confusion about what carbs are good to eat and what carbs we should be avoid?

LEAH: All the time.

TERESA: Right. Cause I think that there's this idea that carbs are bad.

LEAH: Yep.

What kind of carbohydrates are healthy?


TERESA: But they're not because, well, broccoli's not bad and apples aren't bad. Well actually food is not bad. Right? It's just neutral. But as far as healthy or not.

LEAH: Or serving your goals or not.

TERESA: Correct. Yes. Many people just don't realize that vegetables are carbohydrates and that they help to heal the body. Most vegetables are pretty low in carbohydrates as well because they have a low sugar content and that they're high in fiber. Processed foods such as flour tortillas, pastries, waffles, cereal, granola bars, even protein bars, most have the same nutrient profile as a candy bar. Let's be honest. They contain mainly sugar, flour and refined oils.

Switching from these processed carbs, well it takes time, but clients tell me that once they make that switch, their energy improves, their weight goes down, they think and sleep better. And like your client, her auras go away. Or, or the seizures are reduced or eliminated.

LEAH: Yep.

TERESA: Often small changes in their diet leads to big results.

LEAH: Yeah. So let's just take these last couple of minutes Teresa. What does a day of eating on a ketogenic diet look like? Like let's paint that picture for people.

A day of eating a ketogenic diet


TERESA: Right. Cause I think a lot of people just think of bacon and cheese.

LEAH: Yeah, bacon and cheese, cheeseburgers, that kind of thing.

TERESA: Yeah. No bun, right?

LEAH: Yeah.

TERESA: Yes. Well, okay. So if we're going to start our day with breakfast as we do, a person having a ketogenic diet might eat two or three eggs. Maybe they will sauté some spinach, maybe even like three cups. Cause three cups of spinach has less than two grams of carbs.

LEAH: Yeah. And it wilts down into nothing in a pan. Right?

TERESA: So it sounds like a lot but yeah, really it turns out into not much.

LEAH: Yep.

TERESA: And you know, we could sauté that, that spinach in coconut oil so we can get that, those ketones there.

LEAH: Perfect.

TERESA: And then maybe they'll even have some bacon with it; the no sugar added bacon. Cause we know that some bacons do have sugar in them. And that can be breakfast. So three eggs, bacon, spinach.

LEAH: Yeah. Yum. And then lunch, like lunch could be four to six ounces of chicken. And, and let's just think even about making a chicken salad like a mayonnaise based chicken salad. So if we do four to six ounces of chicken and making it like a darker meat type of chicken cause that'll naturally just have more fat to it. And you can still throw those veggies in, like chop up some celery, peppers, put some pecans in there like maybe your nut seed of choice. Use the avocado oil based mayonnaise or like Hain mayo that, that uses those good oils. Put it over a bed of greens.

TERESA: Right.

LEAH: Yeah. Simple. And then snack if you need a snack could be like celery with cream cheese or maybe just a handful of macadamia nuts and some cucumber slices.

TERESA: Right. Dinner, well that could be a ribeye steak. Once again, we're going with that higher fat meat, right? Ribeye steak with sautéed mushrooms. Maybe you sauté mushrooms in butter and maybe then you grill some asparagus or maybe you make that, sauté those too with, you could put a hollandaise sauce in it. Make it fun. Put a hollandaise sauce, cause a hollandaise sauce, that's just egg yolk and butter. Maybe a little lemon juice to make that, to make that sauce. But high fat, low carb. But we still have those vegetables there.

LEAH: Yep.

TERESA: Because what do we know about the ketogenic diet as far as digestion?

LEAH: Yeah, I mean, with a ketogenic diet, when you are taking out a good load of those carbohydrates, it, it can be a little constipating. So going back to the water conversation that we've had throughout this show, that becomes really important. But that's why those vegetables are also really important because you still are getting that fiber. You're still getting some, those phytochemicals in there. So it helps that constipation side.

TERESA: Yeah, absolutely. And one thing I thought that was interesting too that you said is if you need the snack, because a lot of times with the ketogenic diet, it's so satiating because it's so high in fat, you don't really need to eat that often or that's what a lot of people report that they are like, I just don't even necessarily feel like I need to eat a snack because I'm so, I'm still really satisfied. It's not like you're stuffed. You're just satisfied.

LEAH: Yeah.

TERESA: And I think that makes a big difference with those fats and those ketones Yeah. In, in that, that satiation.

LEAH: Yeah, it absolutely does. So hopefully that, you know, just that day in the life was, was helpful for people to kind of wrap their heads around and every brain and body is different and unique and complex. So if you're looking for help in that journey, give us a call. Nutritional Weight and Wellness: 651-699-3438.

TERESA: Our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for joining us today.

Print Transcript

Back To Top