Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a challenging progressive neurological disorder for which there is currently no meaningful treatment. As many as 30,000 Americans may suffer from ALS and the life expectancy from the time of diagnosis averages from two to five years.
The disease causes progressive wasting of muscles and leads to difficulties in speech, swallowing, mobility and even respiration. Cognitive function is typically spared.
The cause of ALS remains unknown, but what is clear is that for some unknown reason, there is a progressive failure of energy production of the motor neurons, the nerve cells that connect the brain to the muscles.
It is known that a diet that converts metabolism to a ketogenic state, meaning burning fat not carbohydrates, is effective in protecting nerve cells and preserving their ability to make energy. With that in mind, ALS researchers explored the effectiveness of a ketogenic, high fat diet, in the treatment of the mouse model of ALS and demonstrated some pretty remarkable results. This remarkable report from researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York was the first to show a substantial benefit in the treatment of ALS in the animal model using a ketogenic diet.
As a practicing neurologist dealing with ALS on an almost daily basis I feel it is important to share this information. This is why I have incorporated a ketogenic diet in the list of recommendations I make to patients who are looking for any possible leads that may help with this condition.