1. Cancer cells use glucose and glutamine for fuel



Why a ketogenic diet? Cancer cells crave glucose because they have defective mitochondria – lowering carbohydrate and protein intake and increasing fat consumption deprives cancer cells of the glucose they need. When you do not consume much carbohydrates, your body will switch from burning glucose to burning fat for energy.  (The liver metabolizes fats and produces ketone bodies) Every healthy cell in the body can use ketones for fuel, but cancer cells cannot because they have defective mitochondria.

A ketogenic diet helps in the following ways:

  1. Less glucose starves the tumor cells since they cannot use fat for energy
  2. Less glucose does not hurt healthy cells because they CAN use ketone bodies for fuel. In fact, when healthy cells use ketone bodies, there is less oxidative stress on healthy cells.
  3. Less insulin means you will produce less IGF-1
  4. Less IGF-1 causes a reduction in angiogenesis.
  5. A ketogenic diet reduces inflammation
  6. Ketones themselves seem to kill cancer cells

Tumor cells lack the ability to use ketone bodies for energy.  If a cancer patient limits the supply of glucose, tumor cells lose their main source of energy and will die or not grow.  Ketones also seem to actually be toxic to cancer cells. The higher the ketone levels, the more reduction in cancer growth.

It took me several weeks of eating very low carb to get consistent ketone readings of .5 or above.  I have gradually gotten better at this and for a while I kept track of everything I ate in an online food diary, which  told me how much protein, carbohydrate, fiber and fat I ate. My goal for protein to be between 45-55 g  (I am small woman in my 60’s) My goal for carbs is 12 net carbs (that is total carb minus fiber) I generally have more than 130 g fat per day –  I try to have 3 T coconut oil or MCT oil per day in tea, hot cocoa, or cooking, then have the rest in butter, avocado, low sodium bacon (which generally has no sugar or MSG).

Protein restriction March 2015 At first,  I was focused only on normalization of my glucose by eating low carb diet.  As I kept researching, I found it was important to also restrict protein and increase fat. About 54% of protein consumed is converted to glucose and meat has glutamine.   I found more information on why to limit protein. This research also shows that protein from plant (rather than animal) sources lowers Insulin like growth factor 1 (IGF1)  which powerfully stimulates cancer.  I have been eating roughly 137g fat, 50g protein, 12g net carbs, (83% of my calories from fat, 13% protein, 3.25% carbs)   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2673798/ Protein restriction causes reduction in IGF-1 (Insulin like Growth factor). http://www.impactjournals.com/oncotarget/index.php?journal=oncotarget&page=article&op=view&path%5B%5D=1586&path%5B%5D=1756 

Dietary protein restriction inhibits tumor growth “Our results showed a 70% inhibition of tumor growth in the prostate cancer model and a 56% inhibition in the WHIM16 breast cancer model fed with a 7% protein diet when compared to an isocaloric 21% protein diet” 

  • Also my kidney function (which had been down to 20% is now up to 49%!!!).
  • For those who like Math: The following formula is used to judge how much of each macronutrient is needed for ketosis: (.9 fat + .46 protein) is the ketogenic side (.1 fat + .54 protein + 1 carb) is the glucogenic side. Divide the ketogenic side by the glucogenic side to get the the ratio. so, (.9*fatg +.46*protein)/(.1*fat+.54*protein+1*carb) – I try to have the ratio around 2.5.


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