The ketogenic diet is high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbohydrates. It induces a state of ketosis, tricking the body into starvation mode. This diet emerged in the 1920s as a treatment for epilepsy in children.
Dietary treatments for epilepsy can be traced back as far as 500 B.C., according to Epilepsia. The ketogenic diet was popular for two decades before the development of antiepileptic drug therapies.
Scientists have revisited the diet during the last couple of decades, and not just for treating epilepsy in children. Recent studies suggest that following a ketogenic regimen could benefit people with other types of neurological disorders, including MS.
Burning fat versus burning carbs
A ketogenic diet causes your body to burn off fat rather than carbohydrates. Glucose is the body’s preferred fuel, but a change in metabolism occurs when you restrict your intake of carbohydrates. Your liver starts producing bodies called ketones. These ketones appear to protect the cells of the nervous system, the site of damage in MS.
Scientists do not fully understand why ketones provide this protection. It’s possible that it results from increased energy in the cells. This added energy may strengthen the neurons against damage from oxidation or inflammation.