“Cancer is not a collection of unrelated diseases that each need to be treated individually, cancer is one disease—a mitochondrial disease—and diseased mitochondria prefer glucose and glutamine for fuel. Healthy cells with healthy mitochondria are flexible and can adapt to just about any fuel source, but not cancer cells. In fact, the majority of cells in our body function best when they burn fat for energy. Cancer cells are bad at burning fat, because fat burning requires respiration, which requires healthy mitochondria.” Thomas Seyfried
When Elaine Cantin was first diagnosed with breast cancer her doctors performed a lumpectomy but her tumor grew back quickly. They then wanted to treat her aggressively with chemotherapy and radiation, but after witnessing several family members and friends pass away due to the harsh treatments Elaine decided to take her time and explore her options. Her research led her to the Ketogenic diet.
The Standard Ketogenic Diet- All carbohydrates are converted by the body into glucose, and all cells are fueled by glucose. But when you deprive normal cells of glucose they will automatically make the switch to the alternate fuel source of ketone bodies. A defect in cancer cells prevents them from making this conversion so they die. Dr Dominic D’Agostino, a ketogenic researcher, explains it like this, “Your normal cells have the metabolic flexibility to adapt from using glucose to using ketone bodies, but cancer cells lack this metabolic flexibility. So we use the ketogenic diet to exploit that defect.” He adds, “It just absolutely amazes me that medical science is just now finding this out.”
When Dr. D’Agostino and his team of scientists at the University of South Florida removed carbohydrates from the diets of lab mice, they survived highly aggressive metastatic cancer even better than if treated with chemotherapy. “We have dramatically increased survival with metabolic therapy,” he said. “So we think it’s important to get this information out.” This diet is not just successful with mice in the lab, Dr. D’Agostino has also seen similar success in people. “I’ve been in correspondence with a number of people, at least a dozen over the last year-and-a-half to two years, and all of them are still alive, despite the odds. So this is very encouraging.”
The basics of the diet: A ketogenic diet not only helps you feel more satiated with less calories; it also burns fat- both from your diet and your own fat stores, therefore it can help to facilitate weight loss. The key to a ketogenic diet is to keep your carbs low, usually as low as 45 grams per day, although Elaine’s diet will hold you to only 20 grams a day. This is significantly lower than the average intake of 406 grams for a man eating a 2,500 calorie diet.
Eliminate the carbohydrates: this includes all grains, bread, pasta, rice, breakfast cereals, granola bars, crackers, muffins baked goods and processed foods; as well as starchy vegetables such as potatoes, winter squash, and corn; all sugars, soft drinks, candies, jams, syrups and desserts; as well as most fruits, milk products (lactose= dairy sugar), and then you must eliminate all of the hidden sugars that are normally found in the diet.
Eat non-starchy Vegetables- You can obtain your limited amount of carbohydrates, between 20 and 45 grams a day, by eating a variety of non-starchy vegetables. These are among the most nutrient-dense foods which can provide you with all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber you need, while containing very little in carbohydrate content, so they will help you stay in ketosis. You can include 1 to 2 cups of non-starchy vegetables at each of your meals.
Using non-starchy vegetables in your daily menu: you could eat a vegetable omelet for breakfast, have a big salad of leafy greens with your lunch, and accompany your dinner with a large salad and a side of vegetables.
Proteins- A ketogenic diet should provide a moderate amount of protein at each of your meals. The best sources of protein are found in non-processed, whole cuts of meat which are still in their natural form. This includes breast of chicken, fish fillet, fresh seafood, whole cuts of meat, eggs and cheese. On the other hand, “processed” meats, like cold cuts and hot dogs are off-limits because often carbohydrates have been added to them, as well as harmful additives. Vegetarians can turn to organic tofu, nuts (such as almonds, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, hazel nuts, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts, and nut butters); hemp seeds, and vegetable protein shake mixes. The diet recommends Including 4 to 6 oz. of protein at each of your meals.
- An example of your protein intake: you could have 2 to 4 organic eggs with 1 to 2 oz. of cheese for breakfast, 4 to 6 oz. of stir-fried chicken breast at lunch, and 4 to 6 oz. of salmon or chicken at dinner.
Fats- A ketogenic diet is comprised of very few carbohydrates and a moderate amount of protein, but a high amount of fat. Fat intake will help you maintain your state of ketosis, where your body is burning fat as its main source of energy. In addition, your ketogenic diet plan should include about 1 to 2 tbsp of extra fat, such as organic butter, unrefined coconut oil, olive oil, and hemp, or flax seeds oils with all of your meals. Coconut oil is a good choice because it contains medium-chain triglycerides that promote a ketogenic state.
- Using fats in the menu- you can cook the vegetables for your morning omelet in coconut oil, drizzle olive oil over your vegetable side dishes, and make homemade salad dressings using olive, flax seed or hemp seed oils. Be sure to stay away from “trans” fats, such as shortening or margarine, and any oil that is hydrogenated. Other high fat foods include: avocados, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, hazel nuts, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts, freshly ground flax seeds, and nut butters.
Elaine shares her story of healing cancer with a ketogenic diet
Using the ketogenic diet to heal cancer. Dr Fred Hatfield heals stage 4 bone cancer with a ketogenic diet
What does the diet look like:
- Count your carbs religiously, and keep them within the ketogenic range of 20-45 grams per day, Elaine Cantin says to keep them at 20 grams/ day.
- Eat enough protein containing foods such as meat, fish or chicken to satisfy yourself. (Elaine Cantin did not eat red meats on her ketogenic diet). A general measure would be 20% of calories, or about 14 ounces per day on a 2000 calorie plan. However, if you find that you are craving more protein it is fine to add more into your diet.
- A ratio of 4:1 fat to carb/protein is needed for those with cancer
- Eat an abundance of non-starchy vegetables such as: Amarath, Artichokes, Asparagus, Bamboo Shoots, Bean Sprouts, Beans (Green), Beet Greens, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Cucumbers, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber, Daikon, Eggplant, Fennel, Greens (Collard, Kale, Mustard, Turnip, Chicory, Endive, Escarole, Romaine, Spinach, Arugula, Radicchio, Watercress), Hearts of palm, Jicama, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Mushrooms, Okra, Onions, Pea pods, Peppers, Radishes, Rutabaga, Sprouts, Sugar Snap Peas, Swiss Chard, Tomato, Turnips, Water Chestnuts, Zucchini.
- Lemons, limes, or a small amount of berries, or other low carb fruit that fits into your meal plan. Keep in mind that 1/2 cup of fresh raspberries has 3.4 grams of net carbs, 1/2 cup of strawberries has 4.1 grams of net carbs, 1/2 cup of cranberries has 3.8 grams of net carbs, 1/2 cup of watermelon has 5.5 grams of net carbs, and 1/2 cup of cherries has 5.5 grams of net carbs. Therefore using these fruits as a garnish for the meal tends to keep the portions at the appropriate level.
- include sea vegetables (for iodine) and fresh herbs.
- Fill in the rest of your calories with healthy fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, and grass-fed butter, hemp or flax oils for cold uses, and MTC oil supplement.
- The ketogenic diet may deplete selenium levels so eat a small handful of Brazil nuts twice per day to keep your levels up, or think of supplementing with selenium.
- Adequate magnesium levels are also important. Magnesium absorbs well through the skin, so one way to achieve this is by applying a topical magnesium oil, or through supplementation.
Testing for ketones – you must track your carbohydrate intake carefully to ensure that you are staying within your target range. It usually takes 48 hours after eliminating carbs for the body to reach a state of ketosis.
Test strips are available online or at pharmacies (they are usually found along with diabetic supplies), and they are used to test the ketone levels in your urine. The strips have a small absorptive pad on the end which contains a chemical that will change from light pink to a deep purple color in response to the levels of ketones found in the urine. The strip is then compared to the corresponding scale on the container.
Try to keep yourself testing in the higher levels for at least 7-10 days which should begin to break down tumors. That 7-10 days begins after your ketones reach the high levels, not at the start of the low-carb diet, and then you must keep yourself in ketosis and continue on with the diet until all of the cancer is gone. Then you should follow a low carbohydrate maintenance diet to prevent it from coming back. Once again, you cannot go back to your old eating habits after having cancer.
“Cancer is not a genetic disease it is a disease of the mitochondria.” Thomas Seyfried’s lecture on using metabolic therapies such as the ketogenic diet for the treatment of brain cancer.
Dr Mercola interviews Dr D’Agostino on the ketogenic diet
- Elaine administrates a support group on Facebook where people using this diet can reach out and help each other to heal from cancer and various diseases: Link to join, a Facebook account is required.
- KetoNutrition – Information, resources and supplies for metabolic management of cancer.
- KetoTherapeutics – a ketogenic diet support website.
- Website with information on the ketogenic diet
- Using the ketogenic diet for brain tumors
- Keto carb calculator
- Time magazine article about the ketogenic diet for cancer
- Link to source article
- Using ketogenic diet for epilepsy
- An article on Acid/ Alkaline Balance
- Sugar and cancer
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