Kathy Tucker draws my attention to a recent article about the ketogenic diet, which is essentially a very-high-animal-fat diet, used to treat childhood epilepsy. I’ve blogged about the ketogenic diet (here, here, and here) but that was before I was on a similar diet. Kids on the diet didn’t develop high cholesterol (“very few children actually end up with cholesterol or lipid problems on the diet”). I slept better when I ate more animal fat, which suggests that animal fat makes the brain work better overall. The success of the ketogenic diet supports that idea. My results suggest that it is the animal fat, not the other fat, that makes the diet effective.
That many kids with epilepsy get better when put on the ketogenic diet can be seen as a canary-in-the-coal-mine phenomenon. Canaries are more sensitive to bad air than miners; children with ketogenic-responsive epilepsy are more sensitive to lack of animal fat than the rest of us. That lesson was lost on me when I first learned about the diet and its success. The broader lesson is that almost any disease has something to teach us about what the best environment is.