Can A Vegan Diet Help With Seizures?Danica Rojero
Being a vegan you may have heard that being vegan can help you with seizures, but you might not know the scientific reasons behind this. I’m going with a combination of studies together to show how a vegan diet can actually help with seizures.
The diet promotes a high vegetarian intake of foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains, and a relatively low intake of animal products.
The vegan diet is considered to be health-promoting, and some studies have suggested that it could help to reduce the risk of developing certain diseases such as cancer, seizures, heart disease, and diabetes.
You can help reduce the frequency of seizures by eating a diet that is low in saturated fat, salt, and sugar; and is high in complex carbohydrates, fiber, calcium, and vitamin C. A vegan diet can help you achieve this.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder characterized by seizures and altered states of consciousness. It occurs when electrical signals in the brain are disrupted, causing the body to act out of sync.
Most often, seizures are triggered by an abnormal electrical discharge in the brain, but some may arise from lack of oxygen to the brain or excess brain activity.
These seizures typically start in childhood and can involve a variety of symptoms, including staring spells, loss of consciousness, or loss of awareness.
Effective treatment exists for the majority of cases of epilepsy, but some people continue to have seizures and their seizures are not controlled by medication.
Epilepsy Types and Symptoms
Epilepsy is a medical condition that causes seizures, and it is diagnosed by a healthcare professional. The symptoms of epilepsy can vary from person to person.
In some cases, people may experience a seizure once or twice a year. Seizures that occur less frequently are classified as chronic; these are often accompanied by symptoms such as fatigue or mood swings.
About 12 percent of all people have epilepsy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition causes recurring seizures.
This number does not include those who have not been diagnosed but also suffers the disorder. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that there are around 226.9 million people suffering from epilepsy worldwide, with about 1.5 million new cases per year.
People who have epilepsy often have up to 20 seizures a day, usually when they’re in a sleeping or unconscious state.
Epilepsy can also be classified according to the type of seizure. Epilepsy can be classified into the following types:
Other type of seizures
- Focal seizures
Focal seizures are a type of seizure that is usually characterized by purposeful muscle movement, such as clonus, sudden jerking of the limbs, or striking out with a finger.
They are not the same as tonic chronic seizures, which are a distinct type of seizure that usually involve swaying and falling to the side. Focal seizures are more subtle, and may be discovered only through careful questioning.
Focal seizures are often the result of trauma to the brain, such as a brain injury or brain surgery. Focal seizures are also called partial seizures or focal onset seizures.
- Generalized seizures
Generalized seizures are a relatively common neurological event that may affect people of any age, but is most common in children and those of older age. They may be focal, meaning that they begin in one part of the brain, or generalized, when a person experiences seizures in many parts of the brain.
The brain is a work of art, and our neurology is nothing short of miraculous—it allows us to maintain life while simultaneously controlling every muscle in our bodies.
The ability to maintain life while simultaneously controlling every muscle in our bodies is what allows us to walk, talk, and manipulate objects.
- Partial seizures
Partial seizures involve the loss of consciousness lasting for a few seconds during a seizure, meaning that the individual will not be aware of what is happening around them.
- Severe seizures
Severe seizures are the most severe type of seizure, and the cause is usually related to brain damage. Severe seizures can also be life-threatening, and they are extremely dangerous and should be treated immediately.
Epilepsy Causes and Risk Factors
Epilepsy can be caused by a number of things including a head injury, genetic factors, or a brain tumor. There are also other risk factors such as drug use, alcohol use, and sleep problems.
- Brain infections
There are more than 100 known brain infections that can cause epilepsy, but some are more serious than others. Some infections, including malaria, meningitis, and encephalitis, can be treated with drugs and/or surgery. Others, such as Cryptococcus, are difficult to treat and can lead to seizures.
- Brain tumors
In one study, researchers used PET scans to see which brain tumors caused epileptic seizures. They found that, on average, 17% of patients with brain cancer had seizures.
However, the rate was higher in patients with “cluster” tumors and localized to the front, back, or both sides of the brain. Cluster tumors are the result of multiple tumors growing together in one place.
- Genetics and Family history
If you have epilepsy, then you are probably wondering what caused your seizures, and whether it is hereditary. Here are some facts about genetics and family history that may help to answer some of your questions.
Genetics is the term used to describe the influence that your DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and the genes it contains have on your health, characteristics and behaviors.
Genes are the basic building blocks of DNA, and they determine, among other things, how well our bodies are able to use oxygen and produce energy from food.
One of the biggest risk factors, affecting nearly 70% of those with epilepsy, is a family history. The genetic links between epilepsy and other brain illnesses are fascinating, but often overlooked by people with epilepsy.
Genetic tests are available to determine if a person may have a genetic link to epilepsy. Understanding your family history can help you know the chances of passing on epilepsy, or help you make choices that can reduce your risk.
What can trigger seizures?
For someone with epilepsy, being exposed to certain triggers can cause a seizure, or a sudden surge of abnormal electrical activity that causes muscles to twitch and affects the brain. These triggers can be as simple as a smell or a sound, but can also be something much more serious, like a genetic mutation.
A seizure can be triggered by a number of stimuli. For example:
Most people know that epileptic seizures and medications can trigger seizures. But many don’t know that certain neurological medicines can cause a severe seizure.
A neurologist recently shared with me that an illness I’ve been suffering from, the refractory syndrome, caused by a medication I take, can trigger seizures. It’s one of the rare conditions where medication can actually cause seizure.
While it may seem that alcohol is beneficial, it can actually cause adverse effects in some people. This is particularly true in those with epilepsy. Alcohol is a known seizure trigger in epileptic patients, and when people consume alcohol they may exhibit an increase in seizure activity.
People who drink alcohol may have an increased risk of developing epilepsy. This risk is not as strong as that for those who smoke tobacco, but it is still considered to be a risk.
When people drink alcohol, the alcohol enters their bloodstream, and quickly reaches their brain. As the alcohol is taken in, it makes its way to brain tissue, and eventually, to blood vessels that supply the brain.
The blood vessels dilate, and are able to take in more blood. This increased amount of blood reaching the brain can trigger a seizure, which will result in a person falling to the ground.
- Sleep deprivation can trigger seizure
Sleep deprivation can trigger seizures because of the lack of the chemical acetylcholine in the brain. Abnormally high levels of acetylcholine can cause seizure activity to take place.
- Lack of oxygen
Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. They can be triggered by trauma, certain medications or by metabolic problems.
They can also be caused by conditions that cause a lack of oxygen in the brain.
- Hormonal changes
There is a steady rise in hormones among women, and this leads to many complications especially during the menopausal stage. Hormonal changes can trigger seizures, yet there are many other issues that can cause it as well.
This is the case with some women, who are exposed to higher hormone levels during pregnancy because of the placenta of a new-born son. Hormones produced by the placenta may increase the risk of a seizure for a child.
- Stress can trigger seizures
Seizures are often associated with epilepsy. Stress can be a trigger to more frequent seizures.