Benefits Of The Ketogenic Diet For Cancer
So, lets get this one out of the way right here. We’ve all either heard or read information on how the Keto Diet helps cancer patients right? Well, i thought i’d do some of my own research and give you my take on the whole thing.
Let me say right here though that I am in no way giving any kind of medical advise here. This is purely my opinion on the whole thing. It’s up to you what you do with the information here. I know, I know, you’re thinking “Was there any need for that”?
Well, yeah, there are people out there who will try and do anything to make others look bad and accuse people of giving bad medical advise. so, as I say, this isn’t medical advise, it’s just my opinions. That pretty much goes for the whole blog too.
Right, now that crap is out of the way, let’s begin …….
If statistics are anything to go by, 1,735,350 people will be diagnosed with cancer this year and 609,640 will die of cancer. Among the new patients, approximately 16,000 will be below 19 years old. Of the 609,640 who will die, 1,800 will be below 19 years as well. That is cancer’s burden on society. If the statistics aren’t bad enough, cancer does not just kill people.
It is unlike other diseases in that there is pain, suffering, and agony involved. Cancer isn’t just a disease, it’s an experience, one that no one wants to have.
With the numbers so disturbing, it won’t come as a surprise to anyone that scientists and biologists across the globe are dedicating their efforts and lives to find vaccines and cures for cancer. Plenty of approaches have been tried, tested and while we are heading in the right direction, there is so much more to be achieved.
In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about whether a keto-diet can help cancer patients but, before getting into the nitty-gritty of it all, we need to understand a few basic concepts:
The Cancer Scourge
The first thing to know is that cancer isn’t one disease. In fact, there are hundreds of different types of cancer. (1) This is one of the reasons why curing cancer is difficult. One solution doesn’t exist.
However, breast, prostate, colon, kidney, lung, bladder, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and renal pelvis cancers are the most notorious ones in town (2).
Cancer also has the second highest mortality rate: 22%.(3)
The Keto Diet
The Keto diet, in essence, is a high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb diet. The aim of a keto diet is to produce ketones.
Normally, our body burns carbs for energy and stores the fat. In a keto-diet, carbohydrate intake is reduced drastically which forces the body to burn fat in the form of ketones for energy.
Ketogenic Diet And Cancer
One common feature of all cancers is uncontrolled cell growth. The immune system is not able to stop the cancer cells from reproducing and the cancer cells spread throughout the body.
One of the reasons why cancer cells reproduce rapidly is because of their enhanced capabilities of absorbing insulin. They have insulin receptors(IR) in a form that absorbs more insulin than healthy cells(4).
Insulin is key to the growth of cancer cells. A side-effect is that cancer patients with diabetes have a higher mortality rate(5). The main source of insulin for the body is sugars or carbohydrates.
As long as you supply glucose or insulin to your body, the cancer cells will continue to grow. However, the cells have one disadvantage. They cannot use the energy obtained from ketonic metabolization. The energy released from ketonic metabolization comes from burning fats.
Cancer cells have a large number of insulin receptors but no receptors to absorb energy from ketones. A keto-diet specifically targets sugars and drastically reduces our carbohydrate intake. If there are no carbohydrates, the body cannot produce glucose or insulin. Without insulin, cancer cells starve and eventually die.
Research On Keto For Cancer
The research on Keto and its correlation to cancer goes back almost 100 years. In the 1920s, a German scientist and cell biologist by the name of Otto Warburg found that tumors inside the body consume excessive glucose. After thorough research, he concluded that indeed, tumors cells fed off of glucose and one way to reduce the tumors was to cut off glucose supply(6).
In fact, in the 1960s, this phenomenon was termed the “Warburg Effect” and it is studied even today. It was around this time that keto diet had really started and was being used to treat people with epilepsy(7).
Recently, as interest in the keto diet regime has increased rapidly, scientific interest has grown as well. In one recent study(8), doctors subjected cancer patients to a keto-diet. High fats were given to sustain the medications that were being administered and carbohydrate intake was reduced drastically.
Five people who participated in the program reported that they were experiencing way less insomnia and also reported that they felt emotionally more stable.
There were no severe side effects. Temporary mild side effects included nausea and fatigue. A group of scientists has also proposed a ketogenic diet for cancer patients(9).
Who Can Follow The Keto-Diet?
Patients suffering from any stage of cancer can follow the ketogenic diet for cancer.
In the above test, the patients were in terminal stages and experienced no severe side-effects. A medical conclusion is that the stage of cancer does not matter.
How To Do The Ketogenic Diet For Cancer
Ideally, going on a full keto diet is the best way forward. However, if you are initially hesitant, you can begin with a few baby steps.
1) Sugar is the cause of all misery
AACI’s (The American Anti-Cancer Institute) founder once said that a can of soda can shut your immune system off for up to four hours. One of the biggest obstacles to fighting cancer is that it isn’t easily detectable. In your prime health, with your immune system working at its peak, 50% to 70% of your cells will not detect cancer cells.
This leads to cancer being detected at later stages at which point they have started to spread throughout the body. When detecting cancer cells in prime health is difficult, just think of how effective a shut-off immune system is.
Sugars are doubly dangerous. While they shut down the immune system, they are also high carbohydrate foods. They will release a lot of glucose which will further aid the growth of cancer cells.
Moral: No Sugar.
2. Low – starch vegetables
Starch will eventually break down into carbohydrates. Carbs help cancer cells reproduce quickly. Therefore avoid all starchy vegetables.
Some vegetables that you can consume instead are listed below:
* Brussel sprouts
If going completely keto isn’t your thing, you can start off with the above-mentioned partial keto diet.
A Complete Keto Diet
At this point, you know that ketogenic diet and cancer are linked. The more keto you go, the more beneficial it is. A completely keto diet will ensure that your body isn’t getting enough carbs to be burnt.
This starves the cancer cells and complements the treatment you are undergoing.
The biggest challenge in implementing a full keto diet is your urges. You will have to completely stop eating carbohydrates. Bread, pasta, rice… everything!!!
The standard keto diet consists of the following –
You can use my macronutrient calculator online to find out the exact quantity to eat.
Listed below are the foods that you can eat:
>Dairy: Full fat butter, sour cream, cream, yogurt and high-fat cheese.
>Eggs: You can eat whole eggs. Yep, the yolks are ok to eat too.
>Meats: All meats are allowed. Fish is the best option.
Vegetables: As a rule of thumb, nothing grown below the ground is permissible.
Vegetables that are grown above the ground like lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, spinach, onions, mushrooms, and asparagus are allowed.
>Seeds and nuts: Avocadoes, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, are allowed. While you can eat all nuts, high-fat ones like almonds and macadamia nuts are preferred.
There are some foods that need to be completely avoided:
A word of caution: Some people claim that whole grains are allowed. The truth is, they are talking shit! Grains are definitely not allowed!!!
You might want to avoid the following, or at least eat them under special circumstances such as following prescriptions from a health expert.
Keep in mind that the idea here is to eat as much fat as possible and as little carbohydrates as possible. Even moderate supplies of carbohydrates will encourage the body to stop burning fats. This will lead to the production of glucose which we’re trying to avoid at all costs.
Note: Quinoa as well as oats, and brown rice are excellent healthy foods. However, they are high-carb foods as well. Therefore, avoid them.
There are a great selection of recipe books out there for the keto diet which teach you how to create delicious recipes with only keto approved food and i have done a review of the best ones here. You should go check it out!
Entering Ketosis And Monitoring Your Progress
Now that you have started your keto-diet, within a week, your body will start producing Ketones. At the same time, the body will be deprived of carbohydrates, thus bringing your glucose levels drastically down.
However, it is essential to monitor your Ketone levels so that you can fine tune your food consumption.
Thee are three ways to go about this:
1. Breath Test.
2. Urine Test.
3. Blood Test.
All labs will perform these tests at a nominal fee. However, for the most accurate readings, blood tests are preferred.
However, I use the Keto Glucose Tester below. It’s a simple and effective way to test.
If you are stricct when it comes to a keto diet will, it will result in the production of Ketones. Once your body starts producing Ketones, you can increase the rate of production by following a few methods. The most simple and effective one is to fast.
While it isn’t necessary to fast to get into Ketosis mode, you can get there quicker by fasting from time to time and there a number of added health benefits to intermittent fasting too. This sends the body into starvation mode. In starvation mode, the body will use the reserve fats in your body to produce energy.
Best Keto Food Combinations For Cancer Patients
A keto diet is aimed at reducing the overall glucose and insulin production in your body. However, when taken with a few super-foods, a keto diet becomes super effective.
Sprouts are the most under-rated cancer-fighting foods. For example, broccoli sprouts have, on average, about 100 times oxidant raw materials in comparison with normal broccoli. You can consume this keto-compatible food through smoothies or on salads or wraps.
Green, leafy, vegetables
Sulforaphane and isothiocyanate are two compounds that enrich your immune system. They also reduce the growth of cancerous cells(10). Collard greens, spinach, kale as well as mustard greens, and arugula all have these compounds. Also, these foods are high in chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll is a detoxifying agent that binds and eliminates carcinogenic substances from the digestive tract. Kale is the most popular choice here. It’s one of the few vegetables which have both sulforaphane and isothiocyanate.
This Indian spice is getting more popular by the day owing to its healing compounds like curcumin. While turmeric is keto-compatible, that is not why it’s on the list. Most cancer treatments do not target the stem cells of cancer cells. This means, there is a chance of recurring. Turmeric is one of the few foods that fight cancer stem cells. Additionally, turmeric also supports apoptosis and helps in preventing the spread of tumors.
Vegetables like Brussels and Broccoli have very specific roles. They contain nutrients like qeurcetin and sulforaphane. They are proven to have anticancer effects. The main role that sulforaphane plays is to maintain p53 function. Additionally, these ketogenic foods activate the NRF2 pathway which is an antioxidant system that fights cancer.
It also assists in detoxification of surplus estrogen in the body. Hormone-sensitive cancers like breast cancer can be fought better by consuming cruciferous vegetables.
Various other plant-based foods like berries, herbs, and alliums are keto-friendly while also good at fighting cancer. Try to add them to your food intake as much as possible.
Side Effects Of The Keto Diet
Many people give up at this point. I know I did a couple of time before pushing through. If you feel nausea, fatigue, irritability, and giddiness a few days after starting a keto diet, do not worry. It is normal, temporary, and harmless. The reason for a keto flu is attributed to withdrawal symptoms.
One study says that we are addicted to carbohydrates so much that stopping it altogether will cause withdrawal symptoms.
The study goes on to say that carbohydrate addiction and cocaine addiction aren’t very different at all(10).
While you can visit your doctor for medication, it isn’t really required. Give it a few days and it will pass. Your body just needs to get used to being without the addiction that you have had for pretty much all your life so, it’s gonna take a little time.
A keto-diet helps you fight cancer by cutting off the glucose supply to the cancer cells. You don’t have to go full keto immediately.Following a full keto-diet has many benefits. You can either opt for a plant-based keto-diet or a meat-based keto diet.
Note: A keto-diet will not cure cancer. It is a complementary force. Your main form of medication has to be continued.
Fighting cancer is not easy. It takes willpower, time, patience, money, and luck. Cancers are hard to wipe out from the body and there’s always a chance that they will come back. You can use the ketogenic diet on cancer as a secondary force.
If you are a cancer patient, reach out to other survivors and listen to their stories, techniques, and methods. They will give you courage and also practical tips on dealing with cancer.
All the best. You’re going to win and we’re cheering for you!