Enjoying healthy fats lately? You can probably thank the ketogenic diet for bringing these wonderful macronutrients back into the fold of a well-balanced diet. For years, the word fat was condemned, ringing fear into the hearts of health-conscious folks. Yet, due to the science of lipidologists and researchers, this vital macronutrient has made the ultimate comeback.
Healthy fat is not only essential for a healthy functioning brain and nervous system, but it’s also been found to be an important nutrient for lowering cholesterol levels, promoting a healthy heart, reducing inflammation, and even boosting the health of skin, hair, and eyes.
Yet, one of the most surprising health benefits of high fat, low carb diet — essentially the ketogenic diet — is its effect on cancer cells. In fact, the keto diet is now being considered an adjunct therapy in addition to chemotherapy and radiation, boosting the efficacy of these treatments, while also nourishing the body and fighting cancer at its core.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the keto diets amazing effects on cancer!
Quick Keto Diet Rundown
The keto diet — short for ketogenic diet — focuses on pushing your body into a state of ketosis — “a normal metabolic process” in which the “body does not have enough glucose for energy” and therefore “it burns stored fat instead [which] results in a build-up of acids called ketones within the body.” In order to reach a state of ketosis, you must reduce your intake of glucose — basically, arbs and sugar — which forces your body to turn to other sources of energy.
The One Green Planet article entitled Breaking Down the Ketogenic Diet for Plant-Based Eaters breaks down the ketogenic diet succinctly:
“The ketogenic diet relies on three specific dietary elements: extremely low-carb intake, very high-healthy fat intake, and, depending on the type of keto diet, a certain intake of protein. By reducing carbohydrates — such as starches, fruits, and breads that are loaded with glucose — you’ll push your body towards fat burning. By increasing healthy fat intake, your body will become an efficient fat-burning machine! Along with burning fat (revealed as possibly the superior source of energy), ketosis — accomplished via the ketogenic diet — has also been shown to lower blood sugar and insulin levels leading to a healthy insulin sensitive state.”
There are four types of ketogenic dieting to choose from, all of which aim to achieve ketosis, yet for different reasons. The standard ketogenic diet focuses on “75 percent fat, 20 percent protein, and only five percent carbs.” Cyclical ketogenic dieting “allows for periods of carbohydrate ingesting mixed with periods of strict ketogenic dieting.” Targeted ketogenic dieting allows for “carbohydrate ingestion around high-intensity workouts, while following a keto diet at all other times.” The high-protein ketogenic diet allows for “60 percent fat, 35 percent protein, and five percent carbs.”
Depending on what you aim to achieve with ketosis, you’ll want to choose wisely with the type of keto diet!
What Research Says About Keto and Cancer
While there are many health benefits that come from following the keto diet — healthy weight management, reducing the risk of heart disease, lower risk of Alzheimer’s, and aiding with acne prevention and treatment, to name just a few — one of the most profound currently being researched is the keto diets affect on cancer.
Cancer cells “require a large amount of glucose to satisfy their energy needs” and have demonstrated “increased glucose metabolism compared with normal cells.” Knowing this simple fact about cancer cells, the ketogenic diet is “proposed as a potential adjuvant therapy by exploiting these differences between cancer and normal cells.” Not only does the keto diet lower blood glucose levels, but it also promotes the creation of ketones which are not cancer-friendly when it comes to energy pathways, therefore you are decreasing the “food” supply for cancer cells and hopefully starving them out.
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