Source: Collective Evolution
Doctor Explains Why She Never Recommends the ‘Ketogenic Diet’
by Arjun Walia
January 10, 2019
- The Facts:Michelle McMacken, an internal medicine physician, shares why she does not recommend the ketogenic diet at all for her patients.
- Reflect On:Why are we so quick to jump on bandwagons, especially when it comes to health topics, without ever really looking into it deeper? The ketogenic diet has many health benefits, but it may not be as healthy as many think.
The ketogenic diet has gained a tremendous amount of popularity over the past few years, and it’s become a trend that many people are adopting without doing their own research first. We’ve written multiple articles on the ketogenic diet, a diet that promotes a high fat/low carb intake in order to prolong the production of ketone bodies in one’s blood. The release of these ketone bodies happens when we fast and deplete our glucose reserves, which develop from eating carbohydrates that turn into sugar. One can prolong the production of these ketones by sticking to a low carbohydrate/high fat diet, and essentially run off of fat instead of their glucose reserves.
The ketogenic diet is being used as an intervention for cancer, and there are multiple studies showing how ketones can actually kill cancer. It’s becoming well known that cancer cells cannot efficiently process ketone bodies for energy. Essentially, the cell starves itself, and ketones help slow the proliferation of tumor cells. Dietary ketones have been shown to completely halt metastasis. For example, a study titled “The Ketogenic Diet & Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Prolong Survival in Mice with Systemic Metastatic Cancer” explains how it’s already known that the ketogenic diet elevates blood ketones and has been shown to slow cancer progression in both animals and humans. The study also revealed that the ketogenic diet “significantly decreased blood glucose, slowed tumor growth, and increased mean survival time by 56.8 percent in mice with systemic metastatic cancer.”
Fasting (when you fast you produce ketones) is also being used for cancer intervention, seizure prevention (epilepsy), and as a potential therapy for alzheimer’s disease, parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders.
A TEDx talk given by Mark Mattson, the current Chief of the Laboratory of Neuroscience, at the National Institute on Aging goes into detail about fasting, ketones, and how beneficial it is for the brain. He is also a professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University and one of the foremost researchers of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying multiple neurodegenerative disorders.
In 1923, scientist Otto Warburg hypothesized that cancer was caused by a metabolic process whereby cancer cells fuel their growth “by swallowing up enormous amounts of glucose [blood sugar] and breaking it down without oxygen.” Coined the Warburg Effect, the theory was considered controversial at the time, but the past few decades have sparked new interest in it and oncologists now use the dependence on glucose that cancer cells have to locate tumours within a patient’s body.
Warburg made his discovery around the same time the ketogenic diet was found to be beneficial for epilepsy. Studies have shown that when the body produces ketones, they form a protective barrier around the brain, which is why more and more paediatricians are recommending the diet for children with epilepsy. It has a huge success rate, but since fasting is neither marketable nor profitable, it receives little mainstream attention.
If we take a look at a recent study from 2014, published in the journal Trends In Molecular Medicine, it outlines and confirms what several studies before it have already done:
- Caloric restriction (diet high in nutrients but low in calories) and its mimetics (CR) improve lifespan and reduce cancer incidence
- CR and CR mimetics sensitize cancer cells to chemotherapy
- CR and CR mimetics combined with chemotherapy enhance anticancer immune responses
We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system. . . . When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged. What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. – Valter Longo, corresponding author (source)
According to the study:
“Caloric restriction (CR) is currently the most robust environmental intervention known to increase healthy life and prolong lifespan in several models, from yeast to mice. Although the protective effect of CR on the incidence of cancer is well established, its impact on tumor cell responses to chemotherapeutic treatment is currently being investigated. Interestingly, the molecular mechanisms required to extend lifespan upon reduced food intake are being evaluated, and these mechanisms may offer new opportunities for therapeutic intervention. In addition, new findings suggest a beneficial effect of CR in enhancing the efficiency of tumor cell killing by chemotherapeutic drugs and inducing an anticancer immune response.”
By fasting, you’re literally cutting off the energy source for cancer cells, and at the same time, while in ketosis, your body is experiencing a wide range of other health benefits.
The first publication tested on a case by case basis in this area was done in 1995, when two young patients received ketogenic diet therapy for their brain tumours. They were unresponsive to standard treatments, yet with this new therapy, both patients’ tumours began consuming less glucose and shrinking in size.
In 2010, a case report was conducted on a 65-year-old woman who had a brain tumour causing numerous neurological deficits. In addition to standard care, she was put on a ketogenic diet. After two months, she experienced a complete remission of her tumour, yet when the diet was suspended, the tumour returned.
Here is another study showing the benefits the diet can have on cancer cells.
A study titled “The Ketogenic Diet & Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Prolong Survival in Mice with Systemic Metastatic Cancer” explains how it’s already known that the ketogenic diet elevates blood ketones and has been shown to slow cancer progression in both animals and humans. The study also revealed that the ketogenic diet “significantly decreased blood glucose, slowed tumor growth, and increased mean survival time by 56.8 percent in mice with systemic metastatic cancer.”
You will also lower your IGF1 growth hormone. Which is ideal to do in order to build muscle, and revere age related diseases.
So, What Do You Eat? How Do You Do It?
Well, the standard and commonly taught ketogenic diet consists of eating low carbs and high fat. If you want to maintain your ketogenic state, this is suitable, but it’s not needed. You can eat a wide variety of healthy foods, and still experience ketosis. Some people who have a high carb intake can deplete their glucose reserves much faster than others, so they are experiencing ketosis more often than not. This is especially true for extreme athletes, which is why they have to eat so much food. It all depends on the body type, for the average person it takes about 15 hours of fasting to completely expend your glucose reserves and transition into burning fat.
Generally speaking, if you fast for a couple of days two times a month, you will experience this state. If you fast two every five days during a 20 hour window, you will also experience it. You don’t necessarily have to eat a high fat low carb diet to experience ketosis. That being said, if you are already in a state of ketosis, and want to continue it but desire to eat, low carbs and high fat is where you want to go.
But how long should we be in ketosis? There are still many unanswered questions.
The effects of fasting are better maintained with a plant-based diet. Personally, I eat a plant-based diet, but also enjoy putting my body in the Ketogenic state. I’ve incorporated fasting into my lifestyle, so it’s no problem for me.
Ideally, I enjoy fasting for a period of about 16-17 hours after a big healthy meal. At about the 18 hour mark, I’ll hit the gym because at this point, my IGF-1 growth hormone levels are very low, which is an optimum time for muscle growth. After my workout, I like to have another big healthy meal. Throughout the day I consume predominately raw full of juices, fruits and vegetables. But that’s just me.
I also go on 2-7 day fasts once every couple of months to experience the benefits.
Are you going to lose muscle by fasting? No, your body goes through its glucose, and before it starts taking protein and content from your muscle, it has to go through all of its fat. As explained here by a Toronto based nephrologists. Theoretically, an obese person of 300 pounds could fast for a year without loosing muscle.
You can find out the ketone levels by a simple blood test. If you go to your local drug store, or check out Amazon you’ll be able to find a ketone measurement meter. At the end of the day, there is a lot of information out there that you should go through to get a clear picture, but one thing is certain, you don’t have to follow the ketogenic diet to experience ketosis, a lifestyle which incorporates fasting is very efficient, and the benefits that are seen from fasting are clear, even with a low carb high fat diet. So, if you use fasting to experience ketosis, you’re also getting the full benefits of fasting as well that would otherwise be cancelled with food intake.
For example, when we fast, we go into ‘Autophagy,’ which means “self” eating, and it’s a process where your body cleans out various toxins and recycles damaged cell components.
Dr. Colin Champ, a board-certified radiation oncologist and assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center explains it well:
“Think of it as our body’s innate recycling program. Autophagy makes us more efficient machines to get rid of faulty parts, stop cancerous growths, and stop metabolic dysfunction like obesity and diabetes.” (source)
One of the best ways to detoxify your system, and slow the aging process (thus greatly reducing the risk of various age-related diseases) is to assist your body in the process of autophagy. Protein actually speeds up the aging process, and too much of it is very detrimental to health, as is too little.
As far as eating a plant-based diet, I explain in the articles linked below why it resonates with me, apart from just feeling natural and right:
As far as fasting goes, we’re going to be released an E-Book about it, protocols, and more, very soon.
Other related CE Articles:
Arjun Walia writes for Collective Evolution, focusing on making changes in his own life and creating awareness, then moving beyond awareness and into action and implementation.