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Ketogenic Diet and Cancer

Ketogenic Diet and Cancer

The ketogenic diet proposes replacing carbohydrates with a proportion of healthy fats and proteins to obtain a therapeutic effect against cancer.

The goal of the ketogenic diet as an anti-cancer therapy is to feed healthy cells and weaken or starve diseased ones.

This is possible because healthy cells can obtain most of the energy they need from "ketones", "ketone bodies" or "ketone acids", molecules that the liver makes from fats.

On the other hand, the majority of tumor cells are not capable of doing so, since their preferred food is glucose, followed by proteins.


To produce ketones it is necessary to replace almost all carbohydrate foods (cereals, legumes and fruits) in the standard diet with fats.

The little glucose that some cells (red blood cells, for example) need is satisfied with the small amount provided by permitted foods and by the glucose manufactured by the body itself.

If there is no rare metabolic or genetic alteration, the ketogenic diet is healthy and has no side effects (except for a feeling of low energy at the beginning, which is overcome in a few days). Not only that, many variables that may be altered improve: sugar, insulin and triglyceride levels decrease, and good HDL cholesterol increases. Despite the bad reputation of fats, weight does not usually increase, as it is satiating.

It not only weakens cancer cells. Ketones reduce inflammation, inhibit pro-cancer hormonal factors and reinforce the benefits of chemo and radiotherapy.

According to biologists Ulrike Kammerer and Christina Schlatterer, the keto diet produces the benefits of fasting without its drawbacks, especially if it is associated with moderate and regular physical activity.

The ketogenic diet is used by integrative doctors, but there are still not enough studies for it to be part of the protocol treatment against cancer (it is for another disease: childhood epilepsy that does not respond to medications).

Dr. Natalia Eres considers it effective, but not a panacea, since some tumors are capable of feeding on fats. And it is a difficult diet to follow at home, he warns. It's easy to go overboard on carbs or protein, which prevents ketone production and ruins your diet. To ensure that it is done correctly, it is necessary to perform ketone, glucose and cortisol analyses.


For the liver to produce ketones, carbohydrates are limited to 20-50 g daily. On the ketogenic diet, most of the energy (more than 60%) comes from fat. Proteins are moderate (20%).

At the base of the pyramid are fats with 8-10 daily servings. Some examples are: 100 g of avocados, 30 g of tahini, 30 g of olives and 30 g of coconut oil.

Vegetables follow with 5-7 servings a day. These can be 120 g of vegetables such as cabbage or lettuce. Another option is to take 60 g of sweeter vegetables: carrots, peppers...

Next are 3-4 servings of protein. For example, 100 g of tofu or seitan, 30 g of nuts or seeds.

And at the top we find fruits with 2-3 daily servings. 30 g of apples or 50 g of strawberries or other berries.

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