“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
Elaine Cantin heals from breast cancer with a ketogenic diet
When Elaine Cantin was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, her doctors performed a lumpectomy but the tumor grew back quickly. They 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 which she then modified to fit her own needs.
The basics of the diet: A ketogenic diet strictly limits carbohydrates, has a moderate amount of proteins, and a high amount of fat. It not only helps you feel more satiated with less calories, but it also burns fat- both from your diet and from your own fat stores, therefore it can also 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 some plans like Elaine’s version of the ketogenic 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.
The ketogenic diet is made up of 75-80% healthy fats, 15-20% healthy proteins, 5-10% carbs from greens, a variety of raw nuts and seeds.
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 in the form of processed foods.
Fats- . Fat intake will help you maintain your state of ketosis, where your body is burning fat as its main source of energy. Because this new diet is high in fats you must avoid all low-fat products and go for full-fat foods such as full-fat cheese, full-fat mayonnaise and salad dressings (though it would be better to make your own instead of using store bought). In addition, your ketogenic diet plan should include about 1 to 2 tbsp of extra fat, such as organic butter, unrefined coconut oil, and olive oil 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 oil. Be sure to stay away from “trans” fats, such as shortening or margarine, as well as oils that are hydrogenated, and polyunsaturated oils such as corn, soy, canola, grape seed, sunflower and safflower because they oxidize easily and they are inflammatory to the body. Other high fat foods include: avocados, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, hazel nuts, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts, walnuts, freshly ground flax seeds, and nut butters.
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 and preservatives. Those on a vegetarian diet 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 Plant Based Protein Shake Mix. 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 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.
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. To do this you should eat 1 to 2 cups of non-starchy vegetables at each of your meals.
Using non-starchy vegetables in your daily menu: You can eat a vegetable omelet for breakfast, have a big salad of leafy greens topped with grilled chicken for your lunch, and accompany your dinner with a large salad and a side of vegetables.
Elaine shares her story of healing cancer with a ketogenic diet
What does the ketogenic diet look like:
- Start this diet with a 3 day water fast as this helps the body enter ketosis quickly
- Count your carbs religiously, and keep them within the ketogenic range of 20-45 grams per day, Elaine keeps her carbs at 20 grams per day.
- The recommended ratio is to have about 75% of your calories come from healthy fats, 23% from proteins, and 2% from carbohydrates.
- Eat enough protein containing foods such as meat, fish or chicken (Elaine does not eat red meats). A general measure would be 23% of your total calories.
- Monitor blood glucose, trying to maintain at 70 mg/dl (3.9 mmol/L)
- Monitor blood ketones and try to get them up to 3.6
- 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 (some include Collard, Kale, Mustard, Turnip, Chicory, Endive, Escarole, Romaine, Spinach, Arugula, Radicchio, and 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, and Zucchini.
- Lemons, limes, or a very small amount of berries, or other low carb fruit might fit 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 only tends to keep the portions at the appropriate level. However, if they throw you out of ketosis then you cannot consume them.
- Include some sea vegetables (for iodine) and fresh herbs.
- Fill in the rest of your calories with healthy fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, and Organic Hemp Oil (for cold uses only). Fats can also be obtained by eating nuts such as macadamia, almonds, Brazil nuts, and pecans, and by eating avocados. Additional fats can be obtained by and supplementing with Cold-Pressed Black Seed Oil and MCT Oil
A typical keto meal plan might look like this:
- Breakfast: green tea with 1 tbsp of MCT oil or coconut oil along with almond milk. 3 eggs, 1/2 avocado, and a sliced tomato that is drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with black pepper.
- Lunch: a salad of greens and non-starchy vegetables topped with broiled fish or chicken, and a dressing made from 1 tbsp of olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon.
- Snacks: macadamia nuts, almonds, or *cheese, and 1 tbsp of MTC oil.
- Dinner: whole cut of chicken or fish, with a side of two non-starchy vegetables (such as sauteed spinach and broccoli) that are drizzled with olive oil, with a green salad topped with an olive oil and fresh lemon dressing.
- Nighttime beverage– Herbal tea with added MCT or coconut oil and almond milk.
Recommended supplements for the Keto diet
- A quality, bio-available multivitamin and mineral such as this one.
- 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 when on keto. Magnesium absorbs well through the skin, so one way to achieve this is by applying a topical magnesium oil, or through supplementation.
- Supplementing with Potassium is also recommended.
Testing for ketones
You must keep 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.
Ketone Testing 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.
Acidic foods add hydrogen molecules to the body therefore making your body more acidic, alkaline foods remove hydrogen molecules thus making your body more alkaline. Processed foods, meat, sugar, grains, dairy, soda, coffee, and alcoholic beverages are all acidic. Diets which are based on these foods will cause your body to lose precious minerals from your skeletal system in an attempt to re-balance the pH. The standard American diet is highly acidic and this is why osteoporosis rates are so common in the US. Acidic cells create an acidic body, and an acidic body is a precursor for disease. Some signs of excess acidity will include fatigue with general aches and pains. Acidosis is especially problematic because it interferes with normal cell function. An example of this is in the production of white blood cells which are essential for a strong immune system. Poor quality white blood cells are produced in acidic environments, making it easy for infections and diseases to take hold.
You can test your saliva pH level by using pH Test Strips that are made for saliva and urine. These can be purchased from health food stores or online, and can be used to give you a measurement of what is going on inside of your body. The proper strip to purchase is a narrow or short range strip, which will measure from 5.0 to 9.5 or so. Your goal is for your saliva pH to reach 7.2-7.4 in which cancer cells cannot thrive. Elaine does not test urine because the ketogenic diet causes the body to release excess acids into the urine. Read more Acid/ Alkaline Balance and how to test saliva pH.
One way that she raised her pH was by drinking alkaline water. You can find alkaline water in many health food stores and some grocery stores, or you can make water more alkaline by adding Organic Wheat Grass Powder to filtered water, or by adding the juice of 4 lemons along with their skins, 1/2 tsp of sea salt, and 1 tbsp of raw organic honey to one gallon of water and drinking this throughout the day.
“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 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.
- Using the ketogenic diet for brain tumors, online magazine Treatment Strategies Oncology, pg 64-73
- Keto/ carb calculator
- Time magazine article about the ketogenic diet for cancer
- Link to source article
- Ketogenic diet resource/ketogenic diet plan
- Using ketogenic diet for epilepsy
- An article on Acid/ Alkaline Balance
- Sugar and cancer
- Website of Elaine Cantin
If you have had your gallbladder removed you will need to supplement with pancreatic enzymes to help you break down proteins and fats. Those with colon cancer who may find that following a raw vegan diet with lots of juicing may be more beneficial diet for their healing plan.
Read more testimonials for the ketogenic diet