Dietary and metabolic therapies have been attempted in a wide variety of neurological diseases, including epilepsy, headache, neurotrauma, Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, sleep disorders, brain cancer, autism, pain, and multiple sclerosis. The impetus for using various diets to treat – or at least ameliorate symptoms of – these disorders stems from both a lack of effectiveness of pharmacological therapies, and also the intrinsic appeal of implementing a more “natural” treatment. The enormous spectrum of pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the aforementioned diseases would suggest a degree of complexity that cannot be impacted universally by any single dietary treatment.
Yet, it is conceivable that alterations in certain dietary constituents could affect the course and impact the outcome of these brain disorders. Further, it is possible that a final common neurometabolic pathway might be influenced by a variety of dietary interventions. The most notable example of a dietary treatment with proven efficacy against a neurological condition is the high-fat, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet (KD) used in patients with medically intractable epilepsy.
While the mechanisms through which the KD works remain unclear, there is now compelling evidence that its efficacy is likely related to the normalization of aberrant energy metabolism. The concept that many neurological conditions are linked pathophysiologically to energy dysregulation could well provide a common research and experimental therapeutics platform, from which the course of several neurological diseases could be favorably influenced by dietary means.
Here, National Center for Biotechnology Information provides an overview of studies using the KD in a wide panoply of neurologic disorders in which neuroprotection is an essential component
NCBI: The Ketogenic Diet as a Treatment Paradigm for Diverse Neurological Disorders
Over the past decade, investigators have identified numerous mechanisms through which the KD may provide neuroprotective activity. Two hallmark features of KD treatment are the rise in ketone body production by the liver and a reduction in blood glucose levels. Ketone bodies themselves have been shown to possess neuroprotective properties, by raising ATP levels and reducing ROS production through enhanced NADH oxidation and inhibition of mitochondrial permeability transition. The second major biochemical feature of the KD is the decrease in glycolytic flux. Reduction of glycolysis is an essential feature of calorie restriction, which has been shown to suppress seizures, as well as prolong the lifespan of numerous species, including primates.
More details: NCBI: The Ketogenic Diet as a Treatment Paradigm for Diverse Neurological Disorders
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