How Does Ketogenic Diet Starve Cancer Cells?
Ketogenic diet is HIGH “good fat” diet, moderte protein and NO carbohydrates.
Dr. D’Agostino explains how the ketogenic diet can have such a dramatic (and rapid) effect on cancer. All of your body’s cells are fueled by glucose. This includes cancer cells. However, cancer cells have one built-in fatal flaw – they do not have the metabolic flexibility of your regular cells and cannot adapt to use ketone bodies for fuel as all your other cells can.
So, when you alter your diet and become what’s known as “fat-adapted,” your body starts using fat for fuel rather than carbs. When you switch out the carbs for healthy fats, you starve the cancer out, as you’re no longer supplying the necessary fuel – glucose – for their growth. As D’Agostino explains:
"Your normal cells have the metabolic flexibility to adapt from using glucose to using ketone bodies. But cancer cells lack this metabolic flexibility. So we can exploit that.”
I’ve previously discussed ways to “starve” cancer, and eliminating sugar/fructose and grains (ie carbohydrates) is at the very top of the list. It’s the most basic step without which few other dietary strategies are likely to succeed. In order to be effective, you must first STOP doing that which is promoting cancer growth (or poor health in general), and then all the other preventive strategies have the chance to really have an impact.
What Makes for a Cancer-Fighting Diet?
Please remember addressing your diet should be at the top of your list. Rather than just adding certain cancer-fighting foods. Naturally, processed foods and soft drinks do not belong in a cancer-preventive diet, as they are loaded with carbs that turn into fuel for cancer cells. Carbs also raise your insulin and leptin levels, and keeping your insulin and leptin signaling healthy is imperative if you want to avoid chronic disease of all kinds, including cancer.
Processed foods may also contain trans fat – the only type of fat you really need to avoid like the plague. They are also loaded with omega-6 fats which the featured otherwise excellent video failed to mention. Increasing the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is another potent way to increase your risk of cancer cell proliferation.
What About Protein?
One of my primary mentors in the importance of insulin and leptin, Dr. Rosedale. was one of the first professionals to advocate both a low-carb and moderate protein (and therefore high quality fat) diet. This was contrary to most low-carb advocates who were, and still are, very accepting of, if not promoting, high protein, as a replacement for the carbs.
If you or someone you know is challenged with cancer, the healthiest option may be to replace the carbs with beneficial fats, and limit your protein to high quality organic/pastured sources only. Dr. Rosedale advises 1 gram of protein per kilogram of lean body mass which for most people will be about 50 grams of protein a day (or 0.5 grams per pound of lean body weight). While you can take carbs to very low levels in ketogenic diets, you must have some protein every day to replace your body’s requirements. The key is to add healthy fat to replace the carbs and excess protein.
Olives and Olive oil
Coconuts and coconut oil
Butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk
Organic raw nuts, especially macadamia nuts, which are low in protein and omega-6 fat
Organic pastured egg yolks and pastured meats
The Fallacies of Fats and Carbs
Coincidentally, Dr. Robert Lustig – another expert on the dangers of high carb diets – was recently interviewed by NPR radio’s Science Friday segment.2 His new book, Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease, tackles the persistent myths about fat that is endangering the health of millions. It’s difficult to know just how many people have suffered poor health because they followed conventional low-fat recommendations, but I’m sure the number is significant.
The fact is that you’ve been thoroughly misled when it comes to dietary advice. Still today, many doctors, nutritionists, and government health officials will tell you to avoid saturated fat and keep fat consumption to below 10 percent while keeping the bulk of your diet, about 60 percent, as carbs. This is madness, as it’s the converse of a diet that will lead to optimal health. As an example, you’ve probably seen the whole grain label, which is certified by the American Heart Association3 of all things. Do whole grains support heart health? Hardly. The following outtake from the transcript addresses this head on:
“Flatow: ...there’s something that came out yesterday released from Harvard... and it talks about one of the most widely used industry standards, the wholegrain stamp. [It] actually identified grain products [bearing the stamp] were higher in both sugars and calories than products without the stamp.
Lustig: Absolutely. And to be honest with you, wholegrain doesn’t mean much... Basically what it means is you start with a whole grain; that is the starch on the inside, the kernel, or the husk or the bran on the outside, and then whatever you want to do with it is perfectly fine. It’s still a whole grain. So if you pulverize it and add sugar to it, hey it’s still a whole grain because that’s what you started with. But you know what? All the benefits you get from whole grain are gone as soon as you pulverize it. So.... what it means is irrelevant because the definition is not helpful.”
Other Lifestyle Factors that Influence Your Cancer Risk
Other lifestyle factors that have been found to have an impact on chronic disease and cancer include:
Vitamin D: There's overwhelming evidence pointing to the fact that vitamin D deficiency plays a crucial role in cancer development. You can decrease your risk of cancer by more than half simply by optimizing your vitamin D levels with sun exposure or a safe tanning bed. And, if you are being treated for cancer, it is likely that higher blood levels – probably around 80-90 ng/ml – would be beneficial. To learn the details on how to use vitamin D therapeutically, please review my previous article, Test Values and Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency. In terms of protecting against cancer, vitamin D has been found to offer protection in a number of ways, including:
Regulating genetic expression
Increasing the self-destruction of mutated cells (which, if allowed to replicate, could lead to cancer)
Reducing the spread and reproduction of cancer cells
Causing cells to become differentiated (cancer cells often lack differentiation)
Reducing the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, which is a step in the transition of dormant tumors turning cancerous
Getting proper sleep: both in terms of getting enough sleep, and sleeping between certain hours. According to Ayurvedic medicine, the ideal hours for sleep are between 10 pm and 6 am. Modern research has confirmed the value of this recommendation as certain hormonal fluctuations occur throughout the day and night, and if you engage in the appropriate activities during those times, you're 'riding the wave' so to speak, and are able to get the optimal levels. Working against your biology by staying awake when you should ideally be sleeping or vice versa, interferes with these hormonal fluctuations.
There's a spike of melatonin that occurs between midnight and 1am that you don't want to miss because the consequences are absolutely spectacular. Melatonin is not only a sleep hormone, but it also is a very powerful antioxidant. It decreases the amount of estrogen your body produces, and boosts your immune system. It also interacts with other hormones. So, if you go to bed after 10, it can significantly increase your risk of breast cancer.
Effectively addressing your stress: The research shows that if you experience a traumatic or highly stressful event, such as a death in the family, your risk of breast cancer is 12 times higher in the ensuing five years. I believe energy psychology tools are ideal to address stressors in your life. My favorite is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), but there are many others available as well.
Exercise: If you are like most people, when you think of reducing your risk of cancer, exercise doesn't immediately come to mind. However, there is some fairly compelling evidence that exercise can slash your risk of cancer.
One of the primary ways exercise lowers your risk for cancer is by reducing elevated insulin levels, which creates a low sugar environment that discourages the growth and spread of cancer cells. Additionally, exercise improves the circulation of immune cells in your blood. Your immune system is your first line of defense against everything from minor illnesses like a cold right up to devastating, life-threatening diseases like cancer. The trick about exercise, though, is understanding how to use it as a precise tool. This ensures you are getting enough to achieve the benefit, not too much to cause injury, and the right variety to balance your entire physical structure and maintain strength and flexibility, and aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels. This is why it is helpful to view exercise like a drug that needs to be carefully prescribed to achieve its maximum benefit. For detailed instructions, please see this previous article. Additionally it is likely that integrating exercise with intermittent fasting will greatly catalyze the potential of exercise to reduce your risk of cancer and stimulate widespread healing and rejuvenation.
You CAN Beat 'the System'...
Cancer is the second most lethal disease in the US after heart disease (not counting iatrogenic mortality, aka “death by medicine”). We all know that the war on cancer has been a dismal failure. Tragically, conventional wisdom is blind when it comes to cancer prevention and treatment and hundreds of thousands die prematurely every year as a result. They have little to no appreciation of the concepts discussed in this article. But you don’t have to fall into that trap as you know better and can take control of your health and ability to treat cancer in your own hands.
The ketogenic diet, which can be summarized as a high-fat, moderate-protein, no-grain-carb diet, has brought many back to health, even after being diagnosed with aggressive cancer, and given no hope of survival. Hopefully, research by the likes of Dr. D’Agostino will become more widely known. Until then, do your own research and take control of your own health, and that of your family.
Severely limiting sugar/fructose, processed foods of all kinds, sweetened beverages (as well as diet versions), and replacing carbs with healthy fats and high quality protein can do what no medicine can – it can prevent disease from setting in, and may even be the U-turn you’re looking for if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer or other chronic disease. Add to that appropriate sun exposure, sleep, effective stress management, and regular exercise, and you’ll be well ahead of the rest of the population.