Seizures occur when your brain experiences a kind of electrical misfiring or electrical storm. There are many different types of seizure, ranging from a sudden physical jerking action to a period of mental "absence" or a convulsive "grand mal" seizure in which consciousness is lost. A diagnosis of one or more types of epilepsy is usually made when a person experiences a pattern of recurring seizures. Different foods have differing effects on any individual's epilepsy -- consult your health care provider regarding seizure control and your diet.
There are two specific low-carbohydrate diets that may be used to complement anti-epileptic medications in certain patients. The ketogenic diet emphasizes consumption of heavy fats, and limits a patient's intake of carbohydrates, overall calories and fluids. The ketogenic diet works for some people with epilepsy, usually children experiencing drop seizures. A modified version of a low-carbohydrate diet provides a degree of seizure control in some cases. Like the ketogenic diet, the modified low-carb regimen prompts the body to metabolize fat for energy. When fat is metabolized, ketones are produced, and it is believed that ketones have an anti-seizure effect on the brain in some cases.
According to Steven Schacter's, M.D., 2008 article published by the Epilepsy Therapy Project, most people with epilepsy find that alcohol consumption lowers their seizure threshold. When your seizure threshold is lowered, the likelihood of experiencing a seizure increases. In some cases, alcohol may act directly as a seizure trigger. Schachter recommends that patients diagnosed with epilepsy should either eliminate or limit alcohol intake. Alcohol consumption can also lead to other seizure triggers -- for example, sleep deprivation or dehydration related to heavy drinking can lower your seizure threshold.
CHOCOLATE, TEA AND COFFEE PRODUCTS
Caffeine is a naturally-occurring stimulant substance present in chocolate, tea and coffee products. Caffeine is artificially added to several types of sodas, energy drinks, painkillers, weight-loss supplements and prescription medications. Caffeine is not a seizure trigger for every person with epilepsy, although some patients report that seizures are precipitated by caffeine consumption. Furthermore, caffeine has been used in a clinical setting to prolong seizures during electro-convulsive therapy.
There are many different types of seizure, and types of epilepsy. No two people experience epilepsy the same way, so diet plans that help to control one person's seizures may have no effect on another person. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is important to your overall health as well as your epilepsy control, but nutritional therapies should never be considered as a substitute for anti-epileptic medications. If you maintain a seizure diary -- noting when you experience seizures, and what you eat each day -- this may help you identify foods that are either harmful or helpful for seizure control.