Keto Diet and Cancer
Cancer has turned into a serious disease in our modern society. While cancer was not a large factor before the 20th century (it did exist, of course), our modern diet and sedentary lifestyle have made cancer the second primary cause of death, with 1600 American dying from this disease every day. It appears that our bodies do not react well to being exposed to daily toxins.
While any cancer treatment must be guided by your physician, it is a good idea to discuss the keto diet and what it can do to help in the treatment of this disease.
A cancer-specific keto diet may consist of as much as 90 percent fat. There is a very good reason for that. What doctors do know is that cancer cells feed off carbohydrates and sugar. This is what helps them grow and multiply in number.
As we have seen, the keto diet dramatically reduces our carbohydrate and sugar consumption as our metabolism is altered. What the keto diet does, in essence, is remove the “food” on which
cancer cells feed and starves them. The result is that cancer cells may die, multiply at a slower rate, or decrease.
Another reason why a keto diet is able to slow down the growth of cancer cells is that by reducing calories, cancer cells have less energy to develop and grow in the first place. Insulin also helps cells grow. Since the keto diet lowers insulin level, it slows down the growth of tumorous cells.
When on the keto diet, the body produces ketones. While the body is fueled by ketones, cancerous cells are not. Therefore, a state of ketosis may help reduce the size and growth of cancer cells.
One study monitored the growth of tumors in patients suffering from cancer of the digestive tract. Of those patients who received a high carbohydrate diet, tumors showed a 32.2 percent in growth. Patients on a keto diet showed a 24.3 percent growth in their tumor. The difference is quite significant.
Another study involved five patients who combined chemotherapy with a keto diet. Three of these patient went into remission. Two patients saw a progression of the disease when they went off the keto diet.
More studies are needed, but these numbers are encouraging.
The keto diet may help prevent cancer from occurring in diabetic patients in the first place. People with diabetes have a higher risk level to develop cancer due to elevated blood sugar levels. Since the ketogenic diet is extremely effective at decreasing the levels of blood sugar, it may prevent the initial onset of cancer.
From what research has discovered so far, ketogenic diet may:
1. Stop the growth of cancer cells.
2. Help replace cancerous cells with healthy cells.
3. Change the body’s metabolism and enable the body to “starve” cancer cells by depriving them of needed nutrition.
4. By lowering the body’s insulin level, the ketogenic body may prevent the onset of cancer cells.
On a ketogenic diet specifically for cancer, your fats should be 75 to 90 percent, protein 15-20 percent, and less than 5 percent carbohydrates.
Foods to Eat
1. Egg, including yolks
2. All green, leafy vegetables, as well as cauliflower, avocado, mushrooms, peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
3. When choosing dairy, opt for full-fat version of cheeses, butter, sour cream, yogurt, and milk.
4. Eat nuts such as walnuts, almonds, filberts, and sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
Foods to Eat in Moderation
1. Have one serving of root vegetables, such as yams, parsnip, carrots, and turnips per day.
2. Fruits contain sugar, so treat them like candy. One small piece per day.
3. A glass of dry wine, vodka, whiskey and brandy once a week. No cocktails with sugars.
4. A small piece of chocolate with 75 percent or higher cocoa content once a week.
Foods to Avoid
1. Any food containing sugar, including cereals; soft drinks, juices, and sports drinks, candies, and chocolate. Limit artificial sweeteners as much as possible.
2. Starchy food such as pasta and potatoes, breads, potato chips, and French fries, cooking oils, and margarine.
3. All beers.
Keto Diet and Epilepsy
The initial use of the keto diet had nothing to do with weight loss or diabetes management, for which it is now so well-known. Instead, the diet was created by a doctor in 1924 to help his patients suffering from epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a nervous system disorder that can bring on recurrent seizures at any time. The symptoms can be spasms and convulsions, or an unusual psychological view of the world. In any case, it is caused by abnormal brain activity. The severity of the symptoms varies from person to person. A person is diagnosed with epilepsy only if he or she suffers from more than two seizures in one full day. Anyone can suffer from this disorder, but it seems to affect young children the most, perhaps because the young brain is still in a state of development.
Seizures are frequently managed by drugs. Sometimes they work; sometimes, they don’t.
As far back as 1924, however, Dr. Russell Wilder of the Mayo Clinic conducted groundbreaking research and created the ketogenic diet to help children suffering from epilepsy. It was remarkably effective, but doctors lost interest when new anti-seizure medications came on the market. It was easier for them to prescribe medication than to discuss diet.
However, people who used the keto diet to treat seizures continued seeing remarkable success. Today, doctors are returning to using the low carbohydrate, high-fat diet to treat their patients. The results have been extremely promising.
In 1998, the Journal of Pediatrics published a study involving 150 children who experienced seizures despite taking popular anti- seizure medications. The children were placed on the ketogenic diet for one year which the researchers assessed their progress.
Eighty-three percent of the subjects were still in the study after 3 months. Over one-third of the children showed a 90 percent decrease in seizures. At the end of the year, slightly more than half of the subjects had remained on the diet, and a quarter of them experienced a 90 percent decrease in seizures. The numbers indicate that the keto diet has a tremendously positive effect on
children who suffer from seizures. The researchers consider it more effective than medication in many cases.
For anyone with children who experience seizures, the inclusion of a keto diet in the child’s treatment should be discussed with his or her physician.
Another research on the effects of the keto diet on childhood epilepsy involved 145 children. The children were divided into two groups, with one group being treated with medication while the other group receiving a ketogenic diet. Seventy-four percent of the ketogenic diet group were successful in reducing seizures.
There have been more studies of childhood epilepsy and the keto diet. These have sparked new and considerable interest within the medical profession.
Keto Diet and Blood Pressure
One-third of American adults suffer from high blood pressure. It is a serious health problem that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Obviously, the higher the blood pressure, the greater the risk. Aging and obesity greatly increase the chances of developing high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is usually treated with a variety of medications, some of which can have side effects. The best blood pressure is 120/80. High blood pressure is the result of hypertension, and the causes aren’t always clear, but we live in an increasingly tense world, and more and more people are dealing with high blood pressure.
It is a known fact that people suffering from high blood pressure frequently carry excess belly fat and can become at risk for type 2 diabetes. To get at the root of all these problems may require a change in lifestyle.
The symptoms of high blood pressure can be caused by an overload of carbohydrates in the diet, more than the body is able to handle. As we’ve discussed, carbohydrates are converted into sugars, which raise the body’s blood sugar level, forcing the body to create additional insulin. Insulin stores fat, and an excess of insulin can lead to obesity. All of this can have a negative effect on your blood pressure.
Consuming fewer carbohydrates decreases both the level of insulin and the blood pressure level. This simple dietary change can make a huge difference in your blood pressure.
In an interesting study released in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 146 overweight people took part in a weight-loss experiment. The people were divided into two groups. One group was put on a ketogenic diet containing a maximum of 20 grams of carbohydrates, while the other group was given the weight-loss drug orlistat, in addition to being counseled to follow a low-fat regimen.
Both groups showed similar weight loss. What surprised the researchers was that half of the keto group showed a decrease in blood pressure, while only 21 percent of the low-fat diet group had
any decrease in blood pressure. While weight loss itself would bring about a lowering of blood pressure, the study suggests that a decrease in carbohydrate intake can help lower blood pressure even more.
It was found that potassium specifically had a huge effect on lower hypertension. Doctors recommend at least 4,700 mg of potassium each day for anyone wishing to lower his or her blood pressure.
Foods high in potassium are:
• Acorn squash
• Coconut water
• Dried apricots
• Sweet potato
• White beans
While all these foods are permitted on the ketogenic diet, limit your intake of sweet potato and beans, which are starchy and can contain a high level of carbs.