Ketogenic Diet and Cancer -

Ketogenic Diet and Cancer

Ketogenic diet or keto diet is a low carb, adequate protein and high fat diet. The idea is to get most of your calories from good quality fat like organic eggs, grass fed meat, oily fish (also good in protein) and other foods like low carb veggies, cheese, paneer, ghee, avocado, etc. which are low in carbohydrates.

If you notice today’s eating habits, which most of us consume, is predominantly carbohydrate dense, with very little protein, good quality fat and fiber. Therefore our body uses carbs as the main source of energy and stores fat. Whereas when you follow a keto diet, your body brings about what is known as ketosis due to less carbohydrate intake, it starts using ketones as the main source of energy.

Optimal ketone levels offer many health, weight loss, physical and mental performance benefits. Out of which one proven benefit is for children with epilepsy, but today our main focus is to find out if it helps in the treatment of cancer.

How can keto diet possibly help?

Glucose normally stimulates pancreatic β cells to release insulin, which allows glucose to enter cells and provide energy. With high carbohydrate and glucose intake, the pancreas increasingly secretes more insulin, which promotes the interaction of growth hormone receptors and growth hormones to produce insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in the liver—promoting cell growth and proliferation, which can be detrimental to patients with cancer. When glucose is scarce, the body senses the need to make an alternative form of energy for cells. The liver then produces ketones and fatty acids, which provide for normal cells but do not benefit cancer cells as cancer cells have dysfunctional mitochondrias. This is one of the ways that a keto diet can be helpful for cancer patients.

Ketogenic diets mimic the fasting state, wherein the body responds to the lack of glucose by producing ketones for energy. Ketogenic diets selectively starve tumors by providing the fat and protein that otherwise could not be possibly used by glucose-dependent tumor cells.
A keto diet also targets the Warburg effect, a biochemical phenomenon in which cancer cells predominantly utilize glucose by restricting the same as some cancers lack the ability to metabolize ketone bodies, due to mitochondrial dysfunction.

Possible adverse effects of a keto diet:

● Dangerously high ketone levels in the patients suffering from diabetes can lead to potential development of what is known as diabetic keto-acidosis.
● Keto flu is a very common experience for people new to a ketogenic diet, but it often goes away after just a few days and there are ways to minimize or even eliminate it. When transitioning to keto, you may feel some slight discomfort including fatigue, headache, nausea, cramps, etc.
● Constipation. As a keto diet acts as a diuretic, you need to make sure that you are hydrating yourself well in order to avoid constipation.

What do the studies say?

The evidence that keto diet can help is very limited and the studies done till now, are based on a single case report or small group of people. There is much more research needed in the same area before giving out any conclusions. If you plan on following a keto diet, then please discuss with your oncologist regarding the pros and cons of it for yourself and we recommend you practice under the guidance of an expert.


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