Diet: G.A.R.D.ing Your Way to Fewer Seizures?

G.A.R.D. stands for the Glutamate/Aspartate Restricted Diet, and it’s the brainchild of John B. Symes, DVM, also known as Dogtor J. He’s a veterinarian by training and a long-time sufferer from gluten intolerance and a number of other symptoms. In trying to cure his own poor health, he discovered a diet that he believes offers great hope to people who live with a number of conditions, including epilepsy.

The theory behind the G.A.R.D.—as it relates to epilepsy—is that a diet that contains gluten (from wheat, barley, and rye), dairy products, and soy provides too much of two amino acids: glutamate and aspartate. These amino acids are non-essential, meaning that the human body can make them as needed, so they’re not required as part of a healthy diet. They’re also the respective ‘parent compounds’ of MSG (monosodium glutamate) and aspartame (NutraSweet®).

Dogtor J. holds that glutamate and aspartate are ‘excitotoxins’, meaning that they excite brain activity. This might trigger seizures and also be a factor in diseases like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s’ disease, and others. He also suggests that estrogens found in food sensitize nerve cells to the stimulating effect of glutamate.

To eliminate glutamate, aspartate, and estrogen from the diet, Dogtor J. suggests focusing on what he calls the ‘big 4’: eliminating gluten (found in wheat, barley, and rye), dairy products, and soy, and limiting corn and sugar intake. Viruses, he says, heighten their effect on the brain.

While Dogtor J. isn’t reporting any controlled trials of the G.A.R.D., he claims to have great success treating epilepsy in dogs with this diet and says that humans with epilepsy who’ve tried the G.A.R.D. have experienced fewer seizures as a result. The medical research community is just starting to look into the possible effects of glutamate on seizures, so Dogtor J. just may be ahead of his time.

As with any diet, particularly one that changes your eating habits as radically as the G.A.R.D. does, check with your doctor ahead of time.

Discuss this in the support group.

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About Arlene Martell

Arlene Martell is the publisher of EpilepsyMoms.com and the author of Getting Adam Back – A Mother's triumph over Epilepsy and Autism. She resides in a seaside suburb on Vancouver BC Canada with her husband James and their four children Adam, Justin, Shelby and Victoria.