Ketogenic Diet for Cancer

At Reno Integrative Medical Center we believe ketogenic diet for cancer is a must.

There are many different ideas and opinions out in the field of cancer treatment regarding which diet is best to address optimal treatment.  One of the only diets to undergo intense scientific study to date is a calorie restricted ketogenic diet.

Cancer requires 18 times more sugar

Long ago research proved that cancer cells of all types use an abnormal way of burning sugar.  It is called anaerobic metabolism.  It is the process of burning sugar without using oxygen.  The problem with this method is that it is 18 times less efficient at producing a given amount of energy from a given amount of sugar.  This means the cancer cells need to consume 18 times more sugar than normal cells on a moment by moment basis, to grow and prosper.

The problem is that you cannot kill the cancer by not eating sugar. The reason is that the brain requires sugar at the same level of intensity that it requires oxygen.  However, by stimulating the formation of ketones (by eating a calorie restricted ketogenic diet) you protect the brain because it can switch over and burn ketones for energy instead of sugar.  Cancer cells cannot do that because they require a constant source of sugar.

Using Ketones for Fuel

Using ketones for fuel

Supported by evidence from more than 1,000 scientific and clinical studies over the last several decades, the ketogenic diet for cancer has been shown to cause some major changes in the metabolism of cancer cells.  This research has revealed some new, non-toxic treatment strategies that target tumor cell energy production and metabolism.

This new method called “Mitochondrial Enhancement Therapy” (MET) which denotes a transition from glucose (sugar) metabolism to ketone metabolism which causes a number of major changes that start to weaken and kill cancer cells.  It triggers a major reduction in inflammation, a blocking and decrease in the formation of new blood vessels and an increase in what is called apoptosis or cancer cell suicide.

Because all tumor cells suffer common defects in their ability to process energy, they become highly vulnerable to therapies that target these processes.  Non-toxic therapies that target cancer cell fermentation will go far in managing the disease without causing further toxicity in the patient.

The ketogenic diet has been used in modern medicine for over 90 years.  It was designed in 1924 by Dr. Russell Wilder at the Mayo Clinic.  Despite being highly effective in treating epilepsy, it fell out of fashion due to an increase in new anti-seizure medications in the 1940’s since that is what it was originally used for.   Back then doctors often used fasting therapy to treat difficult health problems such as cancer, arthritis, gastritis, and neurological problems, let alone for weight loss.  Fasting is one of the quickest ways to get into “ketosis”.

Misconceptions of the “Dangers” of a Ketogenic Diet for Cancer

There are many misconceptions of potential “dangers” of a ketogenic diet for cancer by the uninformed public as well as many medically trained people.

You may have heard some of these lingering arguments opposing the use of low carb, high fat ketogenic diets.  The vast majority of them are either grossly overblown or patently untrue.

Metabolic Ketosis
Diabetic Keto-acidosis

First of all it is very important to draw a distinct line between metabolic ketosis (benign or even beneficial) and diabetic keto-acidosis (life threatening).  The difference is that keto acidosis is a combination of high ketones in the presence of high blood sugar while metabolic ketosis is high ketones with low blood sugar.

Another criticism is that very low carb diets induce insulin resistance and a “glucose deficiency”.  There is no such thing as a “carbohydrate deficiency” (this is not hypoglycemia)!  This cannot be found in any medical textbook on the planet!  It is nonsense! Switching over to burn fats for energy has been shown to normalize insulin levels as well as sensitivity and stabilize blood sugars.

Doctors tend to view any level of ketosis as a warning sign of ketoacidosis and often caution patients about ketogenic dieting.

The biggest analytical study on the safety and efficacy of the classic ketogenic diet to date was recently completed at Johns Hopkins University.  The lead researcher, Eric Kossoff, M.D., stated “Our study should help put to rest some of the nagging doubts about the long-term safety of the ketogenic diet.  The effects of the ketogenic diet have been overwhelmingly positive, whether it has been to treat a brain disorder, correct a metabolic problem, or to lose unwanted weight.”

Glucose (sugar) is the primary source of energy used by all the cells in the body.  We get glucose mostly from the carbohydrates in our foods.  Between meals, when blood glucose levels fall, the liver starts converting fatty acids (fats) into ketones and blood ketone levels increase.

What about too much fat?

Some people have a concern that the consumption of saturated fat leads to an increased chance of a heart attack.  In actuality, it is high levels of LDL (low density lipoproteins [fats]) that are the problem makers in heart disease.  Interestingly, it is people who consume plenty of “healthy whole grains” that have astoundingly high level of LDL.  People who eliminate grains and sugars and enjoy a healthy state of ketosis have dramatic reductions or even complete elimination of LDL levels!

The diet is high in fat, supplies adequate protein and is low in carbohydrates.  This combination changes the way energy is produced and used in the body.

Fat is converted in the liver to ketone bodies and it lowers glucose (sugar) levels and improves insulin resistance.

For a list of healthy fats and foods go to Anti-Cancer Diet.

More misconceptions

It has been said that eating a ketogenic diet will lead to scurvy due to lack of vitamin C.  Two artic explorers from Sweden lived and traveled with the eskimos for nine years in the 1930’s eating an animal based, low carb, high fat diet.  They were later studied for one year at Bellevue Hospital in New York on the all-meat (including organ meat and bone broth) ketogenic diet.  They remained healthy during the study and didn’t develop scurvy or any other nutritional deficiencies.

It is possible to maintain intake of antioxidants and vitamins C, K and E while in ketosis by eating more organ meats, greens and sulfur-rich vegetables such as onions, cabbage, broccoli and brussel sprouts.

Our patients receive nutritional counseling to help understand their individual parameters for a Ketogenic diet in accordance with their body mass.  Recipes are provided along with meal planning tips.  

From Ketogenic diet for cancer back to anti-cancer diet

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Reno Integrative Medical Center
 6110 Plumas St.  Ste. BReno, Nevada 89519

Phone: 775- 829-1009         1-800-994-1009
 Fax: 775-829-9330