Diet Therapy Research Update – Dr. Eduard Bercovici

In addition to the cutting-edge research done by EpLink, there are ongoing advances that are being made to better understand epilepsy and improve therapies. A great example of this is the opening of Canada’s first Epilepsy Diet Clinic for adults with drug-resistant epilepsy at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre (KNC) in Toronto Western Hospital – part of the University Health Network.

For a long time, high-fat and low carbohydrate diets – such as the ketogenic diet – have helped children with drug-resistant epilepsy to manage their seizures. However, diet therapies have not been as well studied in adults. They are often considered too restrictive, difficult to maintain and unpleasant to eat.

To learn more, Dr. Eduard Bercovici visited Johns Hopkins Hospital and worked with others who are offering the diet to adults, applying these learnings to the KNC Epilepsy Diet Clinic. To start, Dr. Bercovici and his colleagues assess patients' current health and make sure there are no factors that exclude them from starting the diet, using blood work and others tests. Most of the adult patients can be maintained on a modified Atkin’s diet, where daily carbohydrates are restricted to about 20 g/day but other food groups and fluids are not. The diet, taken along with medications and supplements, uses as many ‘everyday foods’ as possible and is supervised by doctors, nurses and dietitians within the program. The goal is to support adults with drug-resistant epilepsy to stay on the diet and ultimately reduce or stop their seizures.

Recently, a similar Epilepsy Diet Clinic at John Hopkins Hospital showed positive outcomes from their program, where many adults with drug-resistant epilepsy had a reduced number of seizures and about 5-10% of patients achieved complete seizure freedom. The opening of an Adult Epilepsy Diet Clinic in Canada is an important milestone, as it will help people with drug-resistant epilepsy receive diet support once they transition out of pediatric care and potentially find a new, effective way to manage their epilepsy.

To read more about the Epilepsy Diet Clinic for adults, click here.

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