Research confirms that food has the ability to heal or harm our bodies. Many doctors however, were trained to believe that environmental factors like diet didn’t play a major role in disease prevention or treatment.
The question we will look at here is can food fight cancer?
Today scientific evidence points towards something quiet astounding; not only may nutrition play a key role in the prevention of diseases such as cancer, it may also play a critical role in how our body fights the disease.
Research indicates that diet contributes to 25 – 30% of cancer-related mortality and other studies suggest certain foods are capable of starving cancer cells to death.
Over the past few years I’ve been working with cancer patients, coaching them through a dietary protocol called the ketogenic diet. It is this dietary approach that is getting a lot of attention in cancer therapy and research today.
In laboratories all over the world studies are being performed to test the theory that this diet may starve certain tumours by cutting off the energy supply, glucose, to cancer cells.
In specific types of cancer, such as brain tumours, early results and clinical observations indicate that a ketogenic diet has the potential to be more effective than traditional treatments such as chemotherapy.
The current research is still in the early stages and there is little long term scientific evidence to support this, but clinical studies suggest in some cancers it may stop the progression of tumours, inhibit metastases, and kill cancer cells.
So What Is A Ketogenic Diet & Could It Hold The Key To Better Cancer Management?
A ketogenic diet is a high fat, adequate protein and low carbohydrate approach to eating. The ketogenic diet has been around since the beginning of time and many traditional cultures lived healthy, long lives on this protocol.
For the traditional Inuit, diet was governed by food availability, so they ate very little fruit and vegetables and primarily survived on protein and fat. These Inuit were thought to have one of the lowest rates of heart disease and cancer in the world, debunking the link between dietary fats and heart disease.
The standard western supermarket diet is high in carbohydrates as found in grains, sugars and most processed foods. As your body digests these carbohydrates they are converted into glucose, (sugar), then glucose molecules fuel each cell in your body.
When we reduce our carbohydrate intake to a minimum (usually 5 – 10 % of daily caloric intake) there is no longer enough glucose to fuel the body, so the body seeks out a secondary fuel source, which is fat.
Stored fat cells and/or dietary fats are then processed in the liver into ketones and these ketones become the primary fuel for each cell in your body. This is called fat-adaptation, and once this occurs your body enters a ketogenic state and is in nutritional ketosis. The side-effects of this state can be extremely positive.
The term Nutritional Ketosis was coined by Dr Stephen D. Phinney some 30 years ago to clarify confusion amongst physicians around ketosis induced by carbohydrate restriction, versus ketosis caused by the absence of insulin in type 1 diabetes (which leads to ketoacidosis).
Ketones in extremely high levels can be a toxic by-product of fat metabolism. However in very low doses they are a useful substrate for healthy fat metabolism and weight loss.
There is no more risk of ketoacidosis in healthy individuals by inducing nutritional ketosis, than there is in inducing a diabetic coma through extreme blood sugar levels in healthy individuals. A healthy body will keep these levels in a safe range.
Sugar, Ketosis & Cancer
Cancer cells do not have the ability to adapt to using ketones as fuel, so if glucose is no longer a source of fuel for these cells, they can literally starve to death. Hence the ketogenic diet has sparked enormous interest in cancer research.
We still don’t know how cancer kills us exactly, but what we do know is that it depletes us of glucose (sugar, our fuel source).
Cancer loves sugar; it robs your healthy human cells so it can use this energy to stimulate tumour growth. Once cancer is riddled throughout a body, it can virtually starve a patient to death, which may be why we see people wasting away with cancer.
Ask any oncologist if their cancer patients are sugar addicts. The problem is that it is not the patient themselves who desire the sugar; it is the cancer in their bodies. By cutting off the sugar supply to glucose dependent cancers, the theory is that this could lead to the death of the cancer cells.
Key Dietary Requirements Of A Ketogenic Diet
When beginning a ketogenic diet it is usually recommended to start with a fast of 1-2 days. Fasting therapy also has its merits and I would recommend…
You can read the FULL version of this article in our quarterly eZine, ‘Holistic Living Magazine,’ look for Edition 4 on this archive page. There’s many more articles about cancer waiting for you too!
Deborah Murtagh – Wholefood Expert
Deborah Murtagh has over 20 year’s clinical experience in natural medicine and whole food coaching. Deborah founded Whole Food Secrets, which also offers a range of online programs dedicated to traditional foods coaching and ketogenic dietary protocols for athletes, weight loss, cancer, diabetes and chronic diseases. Deborah has thousands of students in over 38 countries around the world and is also a professional member of the New Zealand Guild of Food Writers. For inspiring recipes or to find out more about her coaching services, please contact www.wholefoodsecrets.com
To find out more information about this diet, view our online school, or for private coaching options with Deborah, please visit us.
DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended to replace professional advice or offer dietary recommendations. Please consult your healthcare professional.