Rumors abound about diets that can help cure cancer. The keto diet is one of them. It’s a low-carb diet that requires high-fat and moderate-protein intake. With carb reduction, your body is compelled to burn your stored fats instead. This is the process known as ketosis which occurs after three to four days of carb reduction.
What are its pros and cons?
Most people follow the diet to lose weight although this may not be the best way to do so. When your body starts to burn fats because of a lack of carbs, it starts to create ketones. This is a type of acid made by the liver and then sent into one’s bloodstream. Too many of them may result in dehydration, altering the blood’s chemical balance. It can be hard to cut off food groups from your diet for a long time. High-fat diets are often linked with heart disease and obesity. Some keto-safe foods like red meat are known to increase the risk of cancer. You have to be careful of your food choices under keto.
Is there evidence that the keto diet can treat cancer?
It’s given that no food can cure cancer. Research, however, has shown that there’s a link between the keto diet and the slow growth of some tumors in mice. A couple of studies on humans with tumor growth are also promising. On the contrary, a low-fat diet has been observed to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
What cancer patients must know about the keto diet before they try it?
The keto diet can be beneficial and detrimental to cancer patients, depending on the type of cancer and its treatment. The body may not be capable of breaking down fats and proteins, which may lead to other digestive problems.
That’s why you have to talk to a dietitian or a doctor you trust before you start on keto or any other diet. Remember that different diets work for different people. That’s why you need your doctor to make sure that the new diet you chose is a good match with your health goals. A dietitian can help you to determine your nutrition goals and make changes to your diet according to each stage of treatment. He or she can help to minimize the side effects and deal with food sensitivities and allergies.
Other benefits of the keto diet in cancer treatment
Several other processes may be able to explain how the keto diet may help with cancer treatment. First, carb reduction can decrease your calorie intake fast. This reduces the level of energy sent to the cells of your body. This may slow the growth of the tumor and the cancer progression.
The keto diet also reduces insulin. Insulin is an anabolic hormone. Insulin enables cells including cancerous ones to grow once it is present. Lowered insulin levels may slow tumor growth.
Cancer cells are not capable of using ketones as fuel. Animal studies revealed that ketones can reduce the size of the tumor and control its growth.
The keto diet and cancer prevention
Some mechanisms have suggested that the keto diet can help prevent cancer development. It is known to reduce the main risks of cancer.
Reduced IGF-1 levels
IGF-1 is a hormone that is vital for cell development. This may also reduce programmed cell death. This hormone has a role in the progression and development of cancer. The keto diet can reduce the IGF-1 levels. It can also reduce the direct impact of insulin on the growth of cells. This translates to reduced tumor growth and cancer risk in the long term.
Controls blood sugar levels and diabetes management
Evidence has shown that increased blood sugar levels and diabetes may increase the risk of developing cancer. The keto diet has been tested to reduce blood sugar levels and manage diabetes in the short term.
May help counter obesity
Obesity is another cancer risk factor. The keto diet is a reliable weight loss tool. Since it fights off obesity, it may help reduce the risk of developing cancer cells.
Potential disadvantages of keto for people with cancer
You have to know that no cancer awareness groups recommend the keto diet for cancer treatment and prevention. The keto diet is known for several benefits but it’s not without risks. The diet is high-fat and some foods that the diet allows like red meat are known to increase the risk of some cancers. The diet limits foods that are known to prevent cancer like fruits, whole grains, and even some vegetables. It can be a challenge for those who are going through traditional cancer treatments to consume enough calories. Low-carb diets like keto often lead to weight loss. It’s hard to comply with the requirements of the diet, and it’s even harder for those with cancer, particularly because food can be a source of their comfort. The keto diet is not suitable for everyone, so it helps to consult with a medical professional before you use it.
You have to be wary of the fad and make sure that keto is for you
The quality of the fats and carbs matters the same as the quantity. This means that there’s a huge disparity between the nutrients found in broccoli to those in a bagel. Everyone is unique, particularly when it comes to glucose homeostasis, the process of maintaining blood sugar levels steadily and reducing insulin. People with type 2 diabetes are more suited for a keto diet. Our bodies respond to keto differently. Every one of us has unique microbiomes and metabolisms. We have inherent or acquired differences that affect the body’s response to specific diets.
That’s why there’s a consensus to avoid trans fats and saturated fats along with high amounts of sodium and to stay away from processed foods altogether, particularly the ones that have refined grains and added sugars. Cancer patients have to take precautions and must not do keto in a corner. They have to consult with their oncologists if they can follow the keto diet or not.