Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Keeping glucose levels low is key to starving cancer

In 1924, Dr. Otto Warburg won a Nobel Prize for his hypothesis that cancer cells had a fundamentally different energy metabolism compared to healthy cells. Dr. Warburg showed that cancer cells exhibited a preference for the utilization of sugar (glucose) as a fuel, even when the oxygen that normal cells use for energy creation was available. He wrote:
“Cancer, above all other diseases, has countless secondary causes. But, even for cancer, there is only one prime cause. Summarized in a few words, the prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar.”
Stands to reason then, that step one of any cancer protocol would be to limit sugar, right?  Sadly, I have never once heard an oncologist mention this. What's worse, is most oncology centers have a big bowl of candy at the counter and a vending machine stocked with cookies, candy and high carb snacks. I know the people in these centers are well meaning. "It's comfort food" I heard one of them say, as I bit my tongue. "No, it's killer food" is what I wanted to say.

When I started my journey, I cut out all sweets, stopped drinking (yes that's sugar), went gluten-free, and limited meats, diary and other foods that contributed to an acidic environment. An acidic environment is a low oxygen environment. More on the pH connection later.

What I didn't realize initially was that it wasn't that simple. I had limited carbs, and had better carbs, but still didn't have the right protein-fat-cab balance. More research suggested that a ketogenic diet was a better fit.

A ketogenic diet calls for minimizing carbohydrates and replacing them with healthy fats and moderate amounts of high-quality protein. Paleo, Ideal Protein, Zone and Atkins are similar type diets, but tend to focus more on the protein, and less on the fat element and overall balance. Respectfully most diets are about weight loss, so fats are limited. With cancer, we're not as concerned about the calories.

The ketogenic diet gets its name from ketones, substances made when the body breaks down fat for energy. Fat, like sugar, is a source of energy. Unfortunately, the body goes to the glucose fuel first and only goes to ketones in long term storage when glucose is not available.

Here's the bottom line - if cancer cells don't get sugar, they die. But its not just about limiting sugar in your diet. It's about understanding the role of carbohydrates and their conversion to sugar and the importance of the protein-fat-carb balance. Getting the body to use ketones as a fuel source is an important part of the process.

Want to know more? Check out these resources:

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