Keto Diet History – Who Invented It?

The ketogenic diet has become popular in recent years. In particular as a method to lose weight quickly.

In its early days, the ketogenic diet was used to treat epilepsy. It was a diet developed as an alternative to fasting, which had proven successful as a therapy for epilepsy in its time in history. Then the doctors replaced the diet with drugs.

This article takes a tour of the history of the ketogenic diet, who created it, and what its uses were over time.

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Table of Contents

Who Created the Ketogenic Diet?

Endocrinologist Rollin Woodyatt was the first to notice that three water-soluble compounds (ketone bodies) were produced by the liver due to fasting or following a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. (1)

Russel Wilder called this the ketogenic diet and used it as a treatment for epilepsy, also in 1921.

The 1960s showed that medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) produce more ketone bodies.

In 1971, Peter Huttenlocher was the first to develop a ketogenic diet where 60% of the calories came from MCT oil.

This made it possible to include more protein and carbohydrates than the original ketogenic diet. The advantage of this is that Epilepsia patients could eat more pleasant meals.

Following this, most hospitals adopted the MCT diet instead of the original ketogenic diet.

History of the ketogenic diet

The first scientific study on fasting as a treatment for epilepsy was conducted in France in 1911.

At the time, potassium bromide was used to treat people with epilepsy, but this chemical was known to alter the mental abilities of patients.

In the French study, 20 epilepsy patients followed a vegetarian diet combined with fasting. This diet led to a significant improvement in epilepsy episodes without drastically compromising the patient’s mental abilities.

Fasting therapy was soon adopted as part of conventional epilepsy therapy. In 1916, Dr. McMurray reported to the New York Medical Journal that he had successfully treated epileptic patients by prescribing a fast, followed by a starch-free diet and sugar. (1)

Based on this, the ketogenic diet was created about five years later. Because there were practically no medications for epilepsy, alternative treatments were needed to help these people.

With the emergence of new anticonvulsant therapies throughout history, the ketogenic diet has been abandoned.

Today, the ketogenic diet is reserved only for people, particularly children who do not respond well to medications.

As well as, the studies continue to affirm if it can be an effective treatment to treat certain types of cancer.

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Keto nutrition and epilepsy

Ketogenic diets improve epilepsy in more than half of the cases. This has been documented in multiple studies, including a report summarizing the results of 19 hospitals that collectively treated more than 1,000 children. (2)

While the ketogenic diet is now a thing of the past for most epilepsy cases, it can have as strong an impact as medications.

In any case, a specialized doctor must diagnose which is the best treatment.

Low-carb diets like keto can have several health benefits. However, if they are not prepared by a nutrition professional, they may be accompanied by side effects and contraindications.

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ABSTRACT

The ketogenic diet was created in the 1920s. This feeding method was used as an alternative treatment for cases of epilepsy.

While it’s difficult to establish a single creator, Rollin Woodyatt and Russel Wilder pioneered the keto diet.

Throughout history, the ketogenic diet as a treatment for epilepsy not only had its changes (for example, MCT oil was added) but was abandoned due to the emergence of new drugs.

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