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Epilepsy and Food

Hi,

I am 26 years old and was diagnosed 4 months ago with generalized Epilepsy but have had grand mal seizures for 15 years of my life. Im on Keppra 2,000mg a day and doing great. Some side effects like headaches but no biggie. Anyways, I never went to a neurologist (until January this year) becuase I would link my seizures either to my period or food. I have noticed that my seizures get worse when I eat a lot or when I eat greasy food. Luckily I get deja vus, auras and I just feel I will get a seizure which mostly happen at night. My neurologist says that there are no food restrictions with epilepsy, but I just feel weird when I eat a lot or eat greasy meals. Has this happened to anyone? Please let me know.

BTW - I think this website is awesome. Having lived through many grand mals in my life and still be here telling my story has made me count my blessings. I always try to repeat to myself that my higher power does not give me something I cannot handle :)  Good luck to all!

Thanks,


Adrilu

Comments

Re: Epilepsy and Food

 

I know that the food can cause epileptic seizure, many medicine spesialist says that you can eat all.  Some food can cause epileptic seizure. I think you have heard raw food discipling the seizures. 

Unique truth 

Re: Epilepsy and Food

 

 I've experienced a big ( positive) change in my seizures staying with gluten free foods, organic only, pesticides cause szs..  no caffeine, eating several times a day, small amounts, not letting my sugar level drop.. that causes breakthroughs for me.. so does eating a lot at once..  This is truely a discipline but it really works. I tried going back to my old ways.. ( its less expensive) and got nothing but my seizures back!! To big a price to pay

I'm dedicated & a believer that food does effect seizures.. Eat healthy it keeps our weight down and self esteem up.. With E we need that badly!!

Someone on this site once wrote in that her Dr told her yogurt was bad for seizures.. anyone know about that connection? I was always curious

 Sash07

Attitude is everything. Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle. Live simply, Love generously, Care deeply, Speak kindly.......

Re: Epilepsy and Food

So love that last comment-hey,please God give me the grace to do just that!

 

Re: Epilepsy and Food

Dear Adrilu,

I have found that the spice nutmeg is an almost immediate trigger for some of my seizures. 5-30 minutes after I eat it. It was also a problem for my best friend as well. You would be surprised to find out how many foods it is in, and it is not required to be listed on labels other than in the general category of 'spices'. I have been nailed a number of times by foods that, at the time, I didn't suspect. I once got nailed by a particular brand of hot pepper sauce (who would have guessed that a hot sauce would have used nutmeg as a flavoring?).

 Unfortunately for me that means that a lot of foods that I really, really like are things that I can't eat. Ethiopian food, most Thai foods, a lot of barbecue sauces, Jamaican jerk seasonings, some Italian foods (cream sauces in particular), most curries, and worst of all, bratwurst (I'm from WI, this means I can never go home again.)!

At times, I am a real personal irritant to people at restaurants and food companies because of this.

I know that other things affect other people, but this one happens to be my own personal demon. I have simply learned that when I have a seizure, to write down everything I did before a seizure and try to figure out what I did just before that was different from other days.

 I'm also a mortal enemy of flashing lights, but that one is obvious because they feel like lightning strikes going off inside my head.

 Good luck,

Matt

Re: Epilepsy and Food

Here  is to Matt who hates flashing lights ! Though I have not had a tonic clonic seizure in 4 years 7 months and 7 days I think police lights and camera flashes are putting me real close to having another seizure !!! Who is the ass that made police lights strobe lights !!!! Also  I avoid cameras like a Philly mobster !!! Additionally back to the topic, large meals definetly put me on the edge and my wife notices it but no one else does. My first seizure was at 46 and again at 47 and both were right after eating... at 52 I am still scared to death. 2000Mg Keppra a day, does it help or am I just lucky ?

Re: Epilepsy and Food

One thing that pisses me off is the bike riders that use the flashing lights in the evening. It doesn't help them as far as safety goes, and they think they are being good to the world and don't realize they are a danger to us.

Re: Epilepsy and Food

I have found that rosemary, grapefruit, peppermint, aspertame, splenda, truvia, and alcolhol induce seizures.

Re: Epilepsy and Food

Flashing lights are my worst enemy! I have never had a seizure while flashing lights go off but it makes me dizzy and could possible cause one!! I agree who would ever think of making police lights strobe lights! I have actually had to ask a cop who pulled me over becasue I had a tail light out to turn off his lights. He said no but then agreed after a few minutes.

Jana

Re: Epilepsy and Food

I've never noticed foods that I'm allergic to causing seizures, or any that seem to be a seizure trigger for me. The only thing that seems to be a trigger having anything to do with food is if I don't eat right or eat enough. I've been skinny all my life, and don't eat much anyway. I'm working on eating more and eating right, eating right meaning eating the right foods. I'm on disability now, and that will probably help me with sticking to a normal eating schedule. Now what I need are things to keep me busy and make me hungry. Being on disability, I need to find things to keep me busy and make money. I can't work a regular job while on disability, but disability tells me I'm allowed to make as much money as I want. Working at home is a joke, and working online jobs are a scam. Unless someone can find me one that isn't.

Re: Epilepsy and Food

This is an interesting topic. I would love to learn more about. I should do some research given my field. I am trying to be a dietitcian.

My neuro didn't suggest any special diet. I heard about the Keto diet for kids. It consists of a lot of fat food. Studying dietetic, it doesn't seem right. I am more for the balance diet and everything in moderation. However, it seems to workd for some. I would say it depends on your type of epilepsy. This is a very broad disease. What works for one does not work for someone else. It is a try-and-see. 

The only suggestion is to keep eating at regular interval healthy food. If you feel uneasy with too much greasy food, avoid them. I am always for listen to your body, he knows best.

Don't forget to enjoy life.

I am totally agree this website is awesome.

Re: Epilepsy and Food

Adrilu and others,

I have complex partial seizures w/ absence seizures as well. My neuro gave me Topamax when diagnosed 5 years ago. I have taken it ever since. I continued to have seizures about once a month even on the Topamax. A friend of mine told me that people with seizures should never take anything but Tylenol for pain, headaches, etc. My neuro never told me that. Also I stopped eating any wheat due to a diagnosis of Celiac Disease three years ago. I have a seizure maybe every 6 months now usually due to either food contamination or hormones. I definitely believe their is a correlation to what we ingest and seizures. By the way, I did decrease my Topamax by 100mg a day after omitting wheat from my diet so that was a plus! I now take 100mg bid. Plus I lost 20 pounds after taking wheat out of my diet!! Just a bonus! Just because we are given a pill for seizures does not mean we should not watch what we consume.

Re: Epilepsy and Food

I'm in my early twenties and also on the same dosage of keppra and loving it! I was on another medication and I could only eat certain foods without vomiting. I have simple and complex partial seizures, Since the Keppra it's easier to eat but i still get squeemish over some foods. Its funny because the one thing I have always been able to eat since the Seizures started has been Chicken Nuggets from mcDonalds, and i hated them before. Everything else never stayed down.  I loved hamburgers and now i cant stand the after taste or how they make me feel. So I think there is a tie, because i also do better when i'm eating healthy. I have also noticed an increase in episodes before my period, actually thats how i can tell its about to start.

 I also echo the awesomeness of this website! Thanks Everyone!!!!

Re: Epilepsy and Food

Very interesting topic and one I've looked up a lot and thought about in relation to my epilepsy a lot. I have a history of grand mal seizures and I take 3000 mg of Keppra a day and 1000 mg of Depakote a day and it is working very well for me but I think there's more to it than my meds. I am a believer that your diet and the food you eat effects every aspect of your life from energy, sleep, seizures or other disorders, the way you act and everything. I believe it's all linked somehow and I'm not even a big nutrionist or anything. I'm 24 and just eclipsed the 2 year mark from when I had my last seizure. Before that I usually had around 2 seizures a year and sometimes as many as 4 a year if you go back to my grade school days. Looking back the more my diet improved the fewer seizures I had and I try to stay away from greasy foods now because that was a problem back in high school. Wheat was definitely a problem and I think nuts might have been also. Looking back I used to eat lots of nuts because they are rather healthy and have a lot of protein but now I don't and I'm seizure free. Maybe coincidence maybe not. Now I eat predominantly chicken, meat, eggs and lots of rice. Chicken, eggs and rice I've read are known to be good for epilepsy. I've had maybe one aura in the past year and I highly contribute that to my diet. Water is also one of the best medicines. The more water you drink the healthier you're going to be in general.

I've asked my neurologist what I can eat to help but the answers I've gotta are always vague because for every study that says some food is good for you there's another study that says that it has no effect. That is a breakdown of my life and food intake with epilepsy. Below the break I wrote up something relevant about a friend of mine and his food adjustments to a life threatening disease.

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A friend of mine I met a few months ago who's in his early 50s is the poster child for how to eat in order to be healthy. At a young age he was diagnosed with a rare disease where his bones more or less deteriorate and obviously he was in big trouble and could die at a young age. He was basically told that there was little to nothing he could do but his parents refused to believe it. His parents took him to a doctor who said he could help. The doctor was very into natural healing and no medications and if my friend devoted himself to what this doctor said he'd get better. Him and his parents gave it a shot and he got better and is now the healthiest person I know. Plus he's in his 50s and looks like he's in his 30s. His son also got the disease but is fine because he follows the same diet his father does. This may sound crazy but the diet is basically eating as a hunter kind of like Indians and like they did a long time ago. He eats primarily lots of buffalo meat, berries, certain vegetables and a few other things. Nothing processed or unnatural. His diet is very strict, very limited and he absolutely cannot stray from it but he is much healthier than me and he's twice my age.

He's talked to doctors since and they are absolutely baffled as to how much it helped him and have actually wrote studies and things in medical journals about my friend. If you think about it and open your mind up it makes sense. Many diseases and disorders long ago were not as bad or severe as they are today, people lived much longer long ago and part of the reason is because of what we eat. Food is what makes our bodies go and function properly and if you eat certain foods it can be no different than taking medications and in some cases better if you devote yourself entirely. I know it's hard to believe but if I was able to give you a proper rundown as he did to me then you'd be convinced also. Food is the biggest factor when it comes to altering the way your body works. I haven't jumped on board because I am doing so well now and I don't want to disrupt or agitate my body to the point where I could have seizures in the initial stages of the transition. Sorry for the length I just thought I'd pass on what I have found.

Re: Epilepsy and Food

I've actually had a lot of trouble eating a normal amount after my seizures got worse, too. I also became a vegetarian because I suddenly had a huge distaste for meat. I'm actually relieved to hear that other people are having food issues as well.

I like the website, too :)

Re: Epilepsy and Food

Four yrs. ago I got my first seizer, but since I was little I had absence seizer, never know that was happening to me.  Thought I was crazy, I never told anyone. I did not know how to describe it.  When I had my first seizer I cried  for a week cause I'm not going crazy. There are people in this world who was going through the same thing I was going through. 

The only think I am able to link my seizers, aura, deja-vu to is my period and sometimes even that is not accurate. I get lots of auras and deja-vu. Only five seizers in four yrs.  I'm greatful for that.  Thank you, for all the info. on the foods that can trigger it. I never paid any attention to food. I eat a lot of nuts because I'm a vegan. I do agree water helps keep the body clean. 

Its good to speak to people who is in the same boat as me.

 

Re: Epilepsy and Food

My son has generalize epilepsy. He has not had a seizure since we switched to a mostly sugar free diet. He still gets sugar in fruit and limited fruit juice. And upped his olive oil in things. Also no caffiene because it seems to get him hyped up. As you know, when you get hyped up, seizures often follow. I have read on this site that many people have problems with nutmeg. I just started to limit his gluton. There is a site called atkinsforseizures.com that helps ones that want to reduce their seizures. Yes, mostly kids, but does work for adults too. Advised to do under doctors care.

Re: Epilepsy and Food

Here are some interesting factoids for sensible eating and supplementing your diet.  (Before you take supplements, ask your doc.)

NUTRITION

Obviously, you should get most of your vitamins from food by eating a balanced diet. If necessary, vitamin supplements such as folic acid can help deal with vitamin loss caused by medication. People with epilepsy taking seizure medications seem to have more of a need for calcium and vitamin D to help keep healthy bones.

However, the all-star vitamin seems to be Vitamin B-6.  This vitamin is involved in critical functions of the nervous system.  And it boosts the metabolism of various neurotransmitters which are needed for normal brain function.  The good news is that it’s easy to get it in all kinds of different foods…fresh juicy fruits like apples, oranges, grapefruits, grapes, (especially grape juice),  pineapples, peaches, pears and lemons…green leafy vegetables, carrots, peanuts, rice, milk, cereals, seeds, nuts and grain.

VITAMINS

Vitamin B3 (or Niacin) — Improves circulation and is helpful for many brain-related disorders. It enhances the treatment of epilepsy when used with anticonvulsants.  Some foods rich in niacin are fish, lean meats, nuts, and poultry.

Vitamin B6 — A necessary cofactor in the metabolism of a variety of neurotransmitters.  It’s needed for normal brain function.  Protein rich foods such as chicken, fish, beans, and nuts are good sources. Other foods rich in Vitamin B6 include brewer’s yeast, milk, rice, green leafy vegetables, peanuts, carrots and cereals.

Vitamin B12 — Needed for proper digestion, the formation of cells, and the production of myelin, the protective coating surrounding the nerves. Vitamin B12 helps prevent nerve damage and levels may be reduced by some anticonvulsant drugs.  Foods rich in Vitamin B12 include liver (best source), beef, chicken, pork/ham, fish, whole eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt.

Vitamin B5 (Panothenic acid) – Is the anti-stress vitamin.  Good sources of vitamin B5 include broccoli, turnip greens and sunflower seeds., crimini mushrooms, corn, winter squash and strawberries.

Vitamin B9 (Folic acid) – Is necessary for the health of the nervous system. Foods that contain a significant amount of folic acid include liver, lentils, rice germ, brewer’s yeast, soy flour, black-eyed peas, navy beans, kidney beans, peanuts, spinach, turnip greens, lima beans, whole wheat, and asparagus.   (NOTE: Folic acid may be depleted during seizures and in some people with seizures. However, taking extra folic acid can reduce the effectiveness of anticonvulsant drugs and lead to more seizures. Take folic acid only under your doctor’s supervision.)

Vitamin C — Vital to functioning of the adrenal glands, which are the anti-stress glands.  It’s more than just citrus fruits that provide Vitamin C.  You’ll also find it in broccoli, tomatoes, red, orange and yellow peppers (more than green), baked potatoes, papaya, mango and kiwi.

Vitamin D Low vitamin D levels are associated with depression as well as epilepsy.  However many doctors aren’t aware of this and don’t include it in blood tests.  It’s called the “sun vitamin” since the most effective way (other than supplements) to get vitamin D is from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Food sources of vitamin D unfortunately rely upon fortified foods like milk. However, even though milk is fortified with vitamin D, dairy products made from milk such as cheese, yogurt, and ice cream are generally not. Only a few foods naturally contain significant amounts of vitamin D, including fatty fish and fish oils.

Vitamin EThe Canadian Journal of Neurological Science published a study showing that vitamin E deficiency produces seizures. This powerful antioxidant protects the body from damage by free radicals and aids circulation.  Foods rich in vitamin E include — almonds, canola oil and broccoli, vegetable oils, cereals, meat, poultry, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and wheat germ oil.

MINERALS

Calcium – When balanced with magnesium, it helps prevents bone loss.  However, you should know that calcium can interfere with anticonvulsant drugs and should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision. Calcium rich foods include cheese, yogurt,  milk, sardines, dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, turnips, and collard greens, fortified cereals such as Total, Raisin Bran, Corn Flakes (they have a lot of calcium in one serving),  fortified orange juice and enriched breads, grains, and waffles.

Magnesium – (Needed to balance with calcium.) This mineral, when aligned correctly with calcium, achieves equilibrium for us all.  There are a variety of foods which are rich in magnesium such as nuts and seeds; including almonds, peanuts, cashews, and pumpkin seeds.  Leafy greens like spinach, kale and swiss chard, plus black beans, sea kelp, basil, bananas, and halibut.

Manganese — Plays a significant role in cerebral function. Manganese (5 mg per day) levels are often low in people with epilepsy. Whole grains, leafy greens and legumes are your best suppliers of manganese, along with nuts, and teas.

Selenium – Found to significantly reduce seizures.  Brazil nuts are the single most selenium rich food in the world. In selenium rich soil areas of the world, selenium is found in meat (kidney, liver, poultry meat especially), garlic, onions, broccoli, eggs, mushroom, walnuts, sunflower seeds and wheat. Selenium is also found in seafood like tuna, crab and especially lobster!

Zinc — Needed for bone growth and is often deficient in those with epilepsy.  Zinc is found in meat, eggs, seafood (especially oysters) and from non-animal sources like whole-grain cereals, wheat germ, nuts, and legumes.

FOOD NO-NOS

You’re probably well aware of these, but here’s a gentle reminder…

Alcohol – People who drink too much have three times the normal risk of developing epilepsy, a risk similar to that of people who’ve had head injuries or central nervous system infections.  When used frequently or in large amounts, alcohol may interfere with the anticonvulsant medication and may lower seizure threshold.

Caffeine — Observations suggest that caffeine (cocoa, coffee, tea, cola,) can exacerbate seizures in people with epilepsy, especially when combined.

Aspartame — We have known for many years that aspartame lowers the seizure threshold. To combine an anticonvulsive with aspartame makes seizures more likely.  Studies have confirmed that aspartame triggers both seizures and epilepsy.  The FDA list of reactions to aspartame included grand mal seizures, seizures and convulsions, petit mal seizures, now called absence seizures, simple partial seizures & complex partial seizures.

MSG -- has been found to cause serious damage to several areas of the brain…  Some foods advertise “No MSG”, or “No added MSG”, but actually, they contain large amounts of a hidden MSG derivative, called “free glutamate”. This includes: hydrolyzed vegetable protein, “Enriched”, fermented, protein fortified, ultra pasteurized, broth, bouillon, caramel flavoring, corn syrup, cornstarch, dry milk solids, natural flavoring, gelatin, gums, malt extract, milk powder, modified food starch, potassium glutamate, seasonings, soy protein, soy sauce or extract, stock, vitamin “enriched,” whey protein, yeast extract and yeast nutrients.   Phylis Feiner Johnson www.epilepsytalk.com

 

Re: Epilepsy and Food

Thanks Phylis, I know that you will always have the techinical stuff. I really appriciate it.

Re: Epilepsy and Food

Thanks Phylis. Just this week I realized studies show a connection between MSG and seizures. I cut out nearly all processed foods around six years ago because I get very sick from even small amounts of MSG(www.truthinlabeling.org is a very helpful site for those who want to cut out all MSG/free-glutamic acid). I'm hopeful that being MSG-free will also help control my seizures with a lower dose of med. In a year or two, I may try to go off meds again. I have a mild disorder (deja vu and rare nighttime partial complex seizures). This post is great. I hope people continue to add what they know!

Re: Epilepsy and Food

Like a couple of other posters have said or implied, gluten could be a factor in your suspicions that food may be a trigger. I was diagnosed with celiac disease (a severe form of gluten intolerance in which the intestinal villi have atrophied) in Feb. 2010, and 3 months later I started having seizures. I'm still having seizures despite religiously following a gluten-free diet, however my antibody levels are still not back to normal, either. I STRONGLY feel there is a connection between the two (how can I go from being very fit, active and healthy to being diagnosed with 2 relatively uncommon conditions inside of 3 months?? However, my GI specialist and Neurologist both say they haven't encountered patients with both conditions (and therefore there can't be a connection, despite my telling them that many medical articles posted on the internet clearly state there is a connection). But, anyway, my point: ask your doctor to test you for gluten-intolerance/celiac disease (the process starts with a blood test looking for gluten antibodies, and if this is positive, then an endoscopy is performed to look at the small intestine to confirm celiac (painless both during and after).

Re: Epilepsy and Food

I would like to support this suggestion about link with my case. I
have been though a lot. I was diagnosed with epi when i was 16. i took
medicine neurotine, topamax, and etc...I could not even recognise my mum
because of seizures, which were caused by there medications. Thanks god
my mum understood that medication is only making me worse!!! i
discovered the articles online about nutritional deficiencies caused by
food senitivities. I dont have celiac disease, but once i have pizza,
which is rich in bith glutamic acid due to wheat content and casein acid
die to cheese- i have a fit!!! so now I am gluten and dairy free and
also try not to eat other food which is reach is glutamic acid and dont
drink coca coca, fanta and sprite and similar drinks- aspartic acid
causes us seizures!!!! try this even if you dont have allergy, because
its different!!! and i am a prove of it!!! also tale 800mg of magnesium-
it works really well on me and stop taking that insane poison called
anticulvusant medication!!!!  diet is on webiste about GARD diet.
www.dogtorj.com

and what is equally important monitor your sodium
levels, sometimes when i feel worse i just buy crisps to prevent
seizure!!! sodium levels have significant importance too. 

Re: Epilepsy and Food

Masterjen---

I watched a show once where a child had seizures as a symptom of his celiac disease; his body was not getting proper nutrition.  I think it was Mystery Diagnosis.  Just wanted to let you know!

Re: Epilepsy and Food

plan and simple citrus  fruit can it cause u to have a seizure

Re: Epilepsy and Food

I have never heard of it to specifically cause a seizure, but it is well known that grapefruit can interfere with the effectiveness of some anti-seizure medications.

Re: Epilepsy and Food

any citrus fruit will bring on a seizure for me.

Re: Epilepsy and Food

I recently done a search and found this to be good information about Celiac Disease and Epilepsy. I have Celiac Disease and am wanting to also start the modified-atkins diet to help control my seizures. However, my dietician doesn't seen to have much knowledge about it.

Could you give me more information about the Atkins diet and possibly how one might tie both diets together. This would be very benefial for me, so I can at least give the dietician some where to start at. Also, how affective is it for Adults?

D

Re: Epilepsy and Food

I recently watched this video that speaks of some of the links between gluten & seizures: http://youtu.be/Wf5q-Q0uqmw
They also feature some testimonials from families that significantly reduced or completely stopped seizures in their children by removing gluten and cross-reactive foods from their diet. Pretty interesting!
Though I may have been having seizures for a very long time without knowing it (absence or simple partials...still learning the names), I only started having convulsive ones this year, almost daily, and I haven't had any gluten (as far as I know) for almost 3 years now. Wish I could isolate a simple trigger so that I could make them stop without meds!
This is unrelated, but I also saw some video testimonials on youtube about people reducing or stopping their seizures with chiropractic work. Intriguing!

Re: Epilepsy and Food

I recently watched this video that speaks of some of the links between gluten & seizures: http://youtu.be/Wf5q-Q0uqmw
They also feature some testimonials from families that significantly reduced or completely stopped seizures in their children by removing gluten and cross-reactive foods from their diet. Pretty interesting!
Though I may have been having seizures for a very long time without knowing it (absence or simple partials...still learning the names), I only started having convulsive ones this year, almost daily, and I haven't had any gluten (as far as I know) for almost 3 years now. Wish I could isolate a simple trigger so that I could make them stop without meds!
This is unrelated, but I also saw some video testimonials on youtube about people reducing or stopping their seizures with chiropractic work. Intriguing!