Quite simply, the ketogenic diet is a high fat, low carbohydrate, protein-restricted diet. The goal is to simulate a fasting state. There are many theories that periods of fasting are effective in reducing tumor growth by “starving” cancer cells. Cancer loves glucose, aka sugar, and uses it for energy and growth. Since the average American diet is about 50 to 75% carbohydrates, and the body turns carbohydrates into glucose, it does make sense that a low-carb diet should be effective in controlling cancer.
So how does it work?
In a ketogenic diet approximately 90% of what a patient takes in is fat. And instead of using carbohydrates as the energy source in the body, the body burns what are called ketone bodies. It uses ketone bodies in lieu of carbohydrates, sugars, or other energy sources. The premise of this diet is that cancer cells cannot survive since they need glucose for energy.
However, all fats are not created equal. An important component to this diet is the consumption of healthy, organic fats, and grass-fed proteins. Hydrogenated fats should always be avoided in any diet, and healthy fats such as organic olive and coconut oils, grass fed meats and organic dairy (if used) should be the goal. Even more confusing is that many anti-cancer diets prohibit dairy of any kind. I personally eliminated all dairy from my diet shortly following my diagnosis.
The balance is delicate and should be monitored by a doctor when you choose to diet by eliminating carbs completely from your eating program. Some possible side effects of a low carb diet include constipation, dehydration and the risk of developing gallstones or kidney stones.
The point of this blog is not to endorse or advise patients whether to follow, or not follow this diet. Since the Keto plan is presently a popular subject online and in the news, suggesting this diet as an adjuvant cancer “treatment”, it is meant to educate not endorse. As always, do your research and discuss this with a nutritionist or your medical team.