Plant Based Ketogenic Diet for Cancer
Cancer is not going away any time soon. With that said, as people begin to take charge of their health, they are more hesitant to pursue traditional cancer therapies. Whether or not someone chooses to undergo traditional therapies, there needs to be an actionable plan in place in order to optimize the body’s ability to fight off cancer. When it comes to nutrition, a plant based ketogenic diet for cancer may just be one of the most powerful strategies you can use.
In addition to the robust nutrient density of a plant based diet, we know that training the body to use fat for fuel can place cancer cells at a disadvantage and help the body fight them off. Additionally, given what we know about the mechanisms that allow cancer to grow, there are several reasons why you should consider a plant based ketogenic diet.
A ketogenic diet can be a powerful tool for helping to fight off cancer. Based off of work from pioneer researchers Otto Warburg and Thomas Seyfried (among others) we know that cancer cells are much different from normal cells.
The significant finding that these scientists uncovered was that cancer cells have abnormal mitochondria (1). Mitochondria are responsible for producing energy for just about every cell within the body. These structures are responsible for taking either sugar or ketones (from fat) and turning them into ATP, the energy currency of the body.
While the majority of energy production takes place in the mitochondria, a small amount happens in the cytosol within the cell. Cytosol is just the fluid within the cell that all of the smaller organelles (including the mitochondria) float around in. The energy production that occurs in the cytosol is highly inefficient and produces higher amounts of toxic byproducts that are damaging to the cell. Furthermore, this process can only make energy from sugar, not from ketones.
Well, we know that cancer cells with their damaged mitochondria can only produce energy from sugar in their own cytosol. Additionally, cancer cells have many more insulin receptors than regular cells, which means they are capable of rapidly absorbing glucose and potentially stealing it away from healthy cells. This means that a higher sugar or carb-rich diet may be giving cancer cells just what they want.
The idea behind following a ketogenic diet is to put these sugar-thirsty cells at an energetic disadvantage by depriving them of their preferred fuel source.
Plant Based Diet
In addition to following a ketogenic diet, following a diet that heavily emphasizes plant foods can be powerful for combatting cancer. This is because various plant based compounds have been shown to act on different pathways in the body to down-regulate cancer growth.
For example, the turmeric compound, curcumin, has been shown to act on certain inflammatory pathways in the body, namely the COX and LOX enzyme systems (2). Research has shown that elevations in these pathways are associated with a more aggressive progression of cancer (3). Therefore, using compounds such as turmeric may have a therapeutic benefit for cancer by downregulating these inflammatory pathways.
There are number of different plant compounds that perform similar functions in the body. In fact, there is a whole list of anti-cancer nutrients that seems to each provide their own unique benefits by targeting different pathways in the body.
Having a diet rich in a variety of these compounds can provide a multi-faceted approach to creating an internal environment in the body that does not favor cancer growth. When it comes to fighting cancer naturally, factors like this need to be taken into consideration to provide the body with the best chances of overcoming this disease state.