Epilepsy and the MicrobiomeFor 100 years Johns Hopkins Medical Center has been treating epileptic children with a low sugar, high fat diet to stop seizures. In this post I'll unpack for you why this diet works, and why you should consider looking into the Microbiome for the root cause of Epilepsy, and experience significantly healthier brain function as a result.
Epilepsy on the riseA 2017 report from Centers for Disease Control indicates the number of Americans with epilepsy is rising as population increase is falling.
- More than 3.4 million Americans have epilepsy.
- Another 200,000 new cases of epilepsy are diagnosed each year, while population increase continues to drop year after year (meaning that new cases of epilepsy aren't due to population increase.)
- New cases of epilepsy are most common among children, especially during the first year of life.
A seizure happens when a brief, intense surge of extra electrical activity flows between the cells in the brain. This activity causes physical or behavioral changes that range from intense full body shaking to mild staring and lip smacking. When a child or adult has repeated seizures it’s called Epilepsy and there are many types ranging from benign to intense.
Alcohol Triggers Seizures
I find it super interesting that alcohol consumption is a known trigger for seizures. According to Epilepsy.com, too much alcohol in the body can trigger a seizure because alcohol changes how neurons fire. Drinking four or five servings of alcohol in a two-hour period is considered binge drinking. This amount of alcohol leads to being drunk because the liver does not process more than one serving of alcohol per hour in an adult. Understandably www.Alcohol.org recommends ending alcohol dependence to avoid seizures. And even recommends avoiding alcohol altogether if you have a "genetic risk or family history of seizure disorders like epilepsy."
Why is this important?
So why am I drawing your attention to the rise in epilepsy and alcohol as a potential trigger ...especially if your loved one with Epilepsy doesn’t drink alcohol? Because 7 months of every year from Halloween to Easter bring an unintented flow of sugary foods into our bodies that fuel the wrong sorts of microorganisms ...especially if you're aiming for healthy brain function. When you feed yeast, mold and microscopic fungus living in your body simple sugars --even the kind in fresh fruit, ... these microbiota give you lots of alcohol. Not only to they multiply like wildfire, but they produce buckets of brain fogging acetaldehide, oxalic acid AND ethanol. That’s right. The additive in gasoline that provides greater combustion for your cars engine is a neurotoxin to your brain. And when it's present in the bloodstream you feel brain-fogged, maybe a little clumsy or uncoordinated, headachy and mildly inhibriated. And if you ingest more sugar, which in effect produces more of these alcohol like substances, you can become drunk with your own blood, overwhelm the brain and liver and even trigger seizures.
Is there scientific support for a sugar/seizure connection?
Johns Hopkins Medical Center has been treating epileptic children for decades (100 years now) with a super low carbohydrate diet to merge them off of anti-seizure meds. And they now have enough associative evidence in the pediatric realm to feel comfortable recommending their Ketogenic Diet for Epilepsy to adults now as well.
The pediatric epilepsy team at Johns Hopkins has used a high fat, low carbohydrate ketogenic diet to address seizures since the diet’s therapeutic origins in the 1920s. They are one of the premiere centers in the world for clinical and research expertise on the ketogenic diet, having treated over 1,500 children with this approach. The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins and low-carb diets. It involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. This reduction in carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. In this state, the brain is fueled by ketones or healthy fats instead of sugars and functions much more efficiently. Best of all, it starves alcohol producing microbes of the one thing they need to keep producing alcohol -- dietary sugars.
Taking it one step further...the Microbiome
So sugars, fed to an overgrown population of alcohol producing microbes can overwhelm the brain and trigger seizures. Stopping the intake of sugars (including grains) is a necessary first step. And lowering blood alcohol levels is a brilliant idea for to protect your liver, endocrine glands, hormone production and heart as well as your brain. So, if you or someone you love has epilepsy, there's an especially good reason to go sugarfree. But the root of the problem stems from the non-native overgrowth of bad guys in the microbiome. To get to the root of the problem, you really need a comprehensive approach that goes after this overgrowth in the microbiome, while you’re depriving it of it’s preferred fuel source, simple sugars
To view what happens for epileptics when they rebalance the microbiome, visit our Youtube channel here, https://youtu.be/8pIk08DbhJo
For more information about the microbiome and alcohol in the bloodstream, check out this post, Cancer, Candida and Alcohol.
To learn how this internal alcohol affects other conditions like racing heartrate, heart palpitations or high blood pressure read Leaky Gut and Heart Problems.
And to discover how elevated blood alcohol alters sex hormones like testosterone, converting it to estrogen, read Leaky Gut Lowers Testosterone Levels.