Intriguing trends in neurological research gives hope for a wide variety of conditions

Seizures and Other Brain Disorders: Several neurological diseases currently have no real cure, and the only hope is for pharmacological interventions to ameliorate the symptoms or stem the inevitable.  These include some intractable seizure disorders, infantile spasms, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, autism, schizophrenia, macular degeneration, brain injury, stroke, depression, and migraine.  Since the brain has the highest lipid concentration of any organ next to fat tissue, it may not be surprising that deregulated lipid metabolism may be of particular importance for various CNS disorders.  Building on the long known positive effect of fasting, and the long known history of benefitsclinical experience,and suspected mechanisms of a ketogenic diet for intractable seizures (see also this 1998 and 2010 review on efficacy, a study using the Atkins diet on seizures, and a review on how the diet works), this diet is being looked at as a treatment paradigm for a diverse variety of other neurological disorders (see also this), even infantile spasmspain and head injury. A 2005 study revealed a benefit of ketogenic diet on cortical contusion.

Conversely, Scandinavian researchers have shown that Type II diabetes is associated with amygdalar and hippocampal atrophy ( a strong predictor of dementia), suggesting that Type II diabetes may directly influence the development of Alzheimer neuropathology.  Now, the recently published PATH study concluded that high plasma glucose levels, even within the normal range (<6.1 mmol/L) were associated with greater atrophy of brain structures relevant to aging and neurodegenerative diseases, the hippocampus and the amygdala. Consistent with this was a 2012 Mayo Clinic observation is that a dietary pattern with relatively high caloric intake from carbohydrates and low intake from fat and proteins may increase the risk of dementia in elderly persons.

Age-related Macular Degeneration: High fat intake, especially in the form of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fats have also been shown in the Alienor Study, the Blue-Mountains Eye Study, and others to decrease the risk of macular degeneration.

Make no mistake though:  solid consistent research in the form of randomized, double blinded clinical trials intended to clearly outline the degree of benefit remain in the future, but, for those who do not have the time to wait, there is food for thought here.   Check these links out and talk to your doctor about your specific needs:

The Ketogenic Diet in Epilepsy and other Neurological Disorders:

  1. Front Neurosci. 2012; 6: 33.The Nervous System and Metabolic Dysregulation: Emerging Evidence Converges on Ketogenic Diet Therapy. David N. Ruskin and Susan A. Masino
  2. Front Pharmacol. 2012; 3: 59.Published online 2012 April 9. Prepublished online 2012 January 25. doi:  10.3389/fphar.2012.00059 PMCID: PMC3321471. The Ketogenic Diet as a Treatment Paradigm for Diverse Neurological Disorders. Carl E. Stafstrom and Jong M. Rho 

  3. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2009 September; 7(3): 257–268. doi:  10.2174/157015909789152164 PMCID: PMC2769009. Adenosine, Ketogenic Diet and Epilepsy: The Emerging Therapeutic Relationship Between Metabolism and Brain Activity. S.A Masino, M Kawamura, Jr, C.A. Wasser, L.T Pomeroy, and D.N Ruskin
  4. Epilepsia. 2007 Jan;48(1):43-58.  Anticonvulsant mechanisms of the ketogenic diet.  Bough KJ, Rho JM.
  5. J Neurosci Res. 2005 Nov 1;82(3):413-20. Age-dependent reduction of cortical contusion volume by ketones after traumatic brain injury. Prins ML, Fujima LS, Hovda DA.
  6. Subcell Biochem. 2008;49:241-68. Altered lipid metabolism in brain injury and disorders. Adibhatla RM, Hatcher JF.
  7. Epilepsia. 2007 Jan;48(1):31-42. Clinical aspects of the ketogenic diet. Hartman AL, Vining EP.
  8. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2006 Jul;6(4):332-40. State of the ketogenic diet(s) in epilepsy. Huffman J, Kossoff EH.
  9. Pediatrics. 2007 Mar;119(3):535-43. The ketogenic diet: one decade later. Freeman JM, Kossoff EH, Hartman AL.
  10. Pediatrics. 2002 May;109(5):780-3. Efficacy of the ketogenic diet for infantile spasms. Kossoff EH, Pyzik PL, McGrogan JR, Vining EP, Freeman JM.
  11. Adv Pediatr. 2010;57(1):315-29. Ketosis and the ketogenic diet, 2010: advances in treating epilepsy and other disorders. Freeman JM, Kossoff EH.
  12. Epilepsy Res Treat. 2011; 2011: 963637. Published online 2011 June 5. doi:  10.1155/2011/963637 PMCID: PMC3420518 The Ketogenic Diet 2011: How It Works. Keren Politi, Lilach Shemer-Meiri, Avinoam Shuper, * and S. Aharoni
  13. Epilepsia. 2008 Nov;49 Suppl 8:111-3. Diet, ketones, and neurotrauma. Prins M.
  14. Pediatrics. 1998 Dec;102(6):1358-63. The efficacy of the ketogenic diet-1998: a prospective evaluation of intervention in 150 children. Freeman JM, Vining EP, Pillas DJ, Pyzik PL, Casey JC, Kelly LM.
  15. Neurology. 2003 Dec 23;61(12):1789-91. Efficacy of the Atkins diet as therapy for intractable epilepsy. Kossoff EH, Krauss GL, McGrogan JR, Freeman JM.

On the Effect on Macronutrient Intake on Risk of Dementia:

  1. J Alzheimers Dis. 2012 Jan 1;32(2):329-39. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2012-120862. Relative intake of macronutrients impacts risk of mild cognitive impairment or dementia.  Roberts RO, Roberts LA, Geda YE, Cha RH, Pankratz VS, O’Connor HM, Knopman DS, Petersen RC.
  2. J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;21(3):853-65. Polyunsaturated fatty acids and reduced odds of MCI: the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging. Roberts RO, Cerhan JR, Geda YE, Knopman DS, Cha RH, Christianson TJ, Pankratz VS, Ivnik RJ, O’Connor HM, Petersen RC.
  3. Neurobiol Aging. 2006 Nov;27(11):1694-704. Epub 2005 Oct 26. Dietary intake of unsaturated fatty acids and age-related cognitive decline: a 8.5-year follow-up of the Italian Longitudinal Study on Aging. Solfrizzi V, Colacicco AM, D’Introno A, Capurso C, Torres F, Rizzo C, Capurso A, Panza F.
  4. J Nutr Health Aging. 2008 Jun-Jul;12(6):382-6. Dietary fatty acids, age-related cognitive decline, and mild cognitive impairment. Solfrizzi V, Capurso C, D’Introno A, Colacicco AM, Frisardi V, Santamato A, Ranieri M, Fiore P, Vendemiale G, Seripa D, Pilotto A, Capurso A, Panza F.
  5. Ageing Res Rev. 2010 Apr;9(2):184-99. Epub 2009 Jul 28. Dietary fatty acids in dementia and predementia syndromes: epidemiological evidence and possible underlying mechanisms. Solfrizzi V, Frisardi V, Capurso C, D’Introno A, Colacicco AM, Vendemiale G, Capurso A, Panza F.
  6. Curr Alzheimer Res. 2011 Aug;8(5):520-42. Mediterranean diet in predementia and dementia syndromes. Solfrizzi V, Frisardi V, Seripa D, Logroscino G, Imbimbo BP, D’Onofrio G, Addante F, Sancarlo D, Cascavilla L, Pilotto A, Panza F.


On Macular Degeneration:

  1. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011 Jul 29;52(8):6004-11. Print 2011 Jul. Dietary omega-3 fatty acids and the risk for age-related maculopathy: the Alienor Study. Merle B, Delyfer MN, Korobelnik JF, Rougier MB, Colin J, Malet F, Féart C, Le Goff M, Dartigues JF, Barberger-Gateau P, Delcourt C.
  2. Arch Ophthalmol. 2011 Jul;129(7):921-9. Epub 2011 Mar 14.  Dietary ω-3 fatty acid and fish intake and incident age-related macular degeneration in women. Christen WG, Schaumberg DA, Glynn RJ, Buring JE.
  3. Arch Ophthalmol. 2009 May;127(5):656-65. Dietary fatty acids and the 10-year incidence of age-related macular degeneration: the Blue Mountains Eye Study.  Tan JS, Wang JJ, Flood V, Mitchell P.
  4. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2005;24:87-138.  The role of omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in health and disease of the retina. SanGiovanni JP, Chew EY.
  5. Arch Ophthalmol. 2007;125:671-679.  The relationship of dietary lipid intake and age-related macular degeneration in a case-control study: AREDS Report No. 20. Age-Related Eye Disease Study Research Group.
  6. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;90:1601-1607. AREDS report 30, a prospective cohort study from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study.  Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid intake and 12-y incidence of neovascular age-related macular degeneration and central geographic atrophy. SanGiovanni JP, Agrón E, Meleth AD, et al; for the AREDS Research Group.
  7.  J Am Diet Assoc. 2008;108:1125-1130. n-3 fatty acids: Food or supplements?  Kris-Etherton PM, Hill AM.
  8. JAMA. 2005;294:3101-3107. Dietary intake of antioxidants and risk of
    age-related macular degeneration. van Leeuwen R, Boekhoorn S, Vingerling JR, et al.

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