Eight-year-old Veja Lucht helped by diet
The Ketogenic, or Keto Diet, seems to be one of the latest diet fads. It is about dramatically cutting carbs, opting for healthy natural fats, meat, fruits with very little sugar and lots of vegetables that are grown above ground.
The menu helps your liver produce something called “ketones” instead of blood sugar. Those ketones burn fat at a much faster rate.
- GALLERY: Meet 8-Year-Old Veja Lucht
The West Bend second-grader lives with a traumatic brain injury she suffered after horrific abuse when she was just four years old.
Her father, Jeb Lucht, says the family adopted her four years ago after they met at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
“Lots of ups and downs with a traumatic brain injury, but I think she’s pretty happy,” Lucht said.
Last summer, Veja started battling seizures.
“It’s apparently very typical three years post-injury,” Lucht said.
Her father says Veja suffered several violent attacks a day for several months.
“She had a seizure she couldn’t seem to come out of. She kept twitching and kept twitching,” Lucht said.
Testing showed she suffered fifty seizures in a mere 10 hours.
“We would go up on medication, she would become lethargic, we would go down she would seize terribly,” Lucht said.
Nothing was working, and that’s what scared the family the most.
“During those times you are shaking so bad, and you are thinking to yourself, ‘what did I do wrong?’ It’s that guilt, “Did I agree to go too high on the medication and we shouldn’t have? What could I have done to prevent it?” Lucht said.
Pediatric Neurologist Dr. Kurt Hecox says there’s an explanation
“There are some children who don’t respond to the medications that are available,” Hecox said.
Doctors at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin put Veja on the Keto Diet. It’s low in carbs and high in fats.
Most recently, it’s become a diet trend boasting to help with dramatic weight loss results.
But Dr. Hecox says for the last decade, doctors at Children’s have treated several hundred children for seizures with the Keto Diet.
“When you place them on a special diet that decreases the amount of sugar that they eat and increases the fat and protein, what happens is those children alert. They become more responsive, their seizures go down,” Hecox said.
Hecox says the low carb diet forces the brain to break down other nutrients.
“If you don’t have sugar available to break down, you’re going to go find protein, you’re going to go find fat,” Hecox said.
The diet doesn’t work for everyone, however.
“That’s part of the art about guessing who is right for it,” Hecox said.
For Veja, it’s helping her win her fight.
“For the last month, we’ve been seizure free,” Lucht said. “Free, now to get back to what she loves, and who she loves.”
When they are pushing her around in the front yard, and the dogs are jumping on her; it’s sort of everyone is together, everyone is back,” Lucht said.
The Keto Diet can be restrictive and hard to maintain for busy families. To help them, nutritionists pack the exact meals families need.