A hotly debated topic that continues to garner impassioned opinions for decades (if not centuries) is that of cancer nutrition. A very appealing concept– since we are what we eat, we can beat cancer by eating the proper diet. Dr. Nav Sharda is a passionate believer in the idea of health and healing from foods, but states that after 30 years of studying various dietary recommendations and observing hundreds of patients on multiple different diets there is no one magic solution. If there is indeed an anti-cancer diet, none of the thousands of patients that Dr. Sharda has treated seem to have stumbled upon the right formula. The human body is designed to be omnivorous and survive in a tremendous variety of environments, thus it has many different biologic pathways to health and nutrition. Vegetarians thrive in many countries, Vegans are happy eaters, Carnivores are very common and all types of diets in between seem to support a healthy human population.
Dr. Sharda is certainly well aware of the common knowledge that cancer prefers to eat glucose—however it is also clear that almost every cell in the body has a preference for glucose. It is also clear that the body cannot function without a certain amount of glucose and carbohydrate. In diets with heavy preponderance of protein and fat, the body will convert a large amount of the eaten protein into glucose. The ketogenic diet is a classic example, and the Atkins diet is another. Some studies have suggested that mitochondrial damage converts cells into cancer and that without glucose those cells starve, yet many in vivo studies have demonstrated that cancer cells have normal functioning mitochondria, and those cancer cells can live just fine on ketone bodies and fatty acids. It appears that in the field of cancer nutrition, there are scientific studies that back up whichever opinion is espoused. For a “deep dive” into ketosis by a Physician who has experimented upon himself and shares his experiences in detail, please visit http://eatingacademy.com/ and it is clear that even for a highly intelligent and biologically optimized doctor, the body and brain still requires carbohydrate and even moderate amounts of carbohydrate eating overwhelms the ketosis…proving that the body has a preference for glucose metabolism.
Anti-cancer diet and cancer nutrition is a complex topic because the body is a complex organism and not all cancers behave the same. That being said, Dr. Sharda has observed a definite benefit to the health of his patients who have embraced various diets. Other than the mitochondrial optimization concept that is currently making the rounds, there are additional benefits from some of these dietary modifications. One fact that has been proven over and over in physiology is that caloric restriction appears to impart a survival and longevity boost. One way this is done is through release of Growth Hormone. Many studies over many decades have demonstrated that under the stress of starvation (temporary in this case) there is a large increase in the production of growth hormone and this stimulates many of the resting stem cells to wake up and repopulate organs that have been damaged. The consequence of rebuilding organs is improved organ function and health is benefitted. Another concept to keep in mind is that while entering ketosis, the body undergoes the same type of physiologic stress as it would with starvation.
One fact that appears overlooked in the debates about cancer nutrition is the toxicity of the various foods that are eaten. If non toxic organic foods are consumed in sufficient quantity to allow the body to clear out the damaged cell membranes and proteins, just about any person will feel better. Dr. Sharda has discussed the effect of detoxification in cancer remission. Ketogenic diets certainly have the ability to be organic and healthy, as coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil, ghee, avocado, lentil, beans, nuts, vegetables and pure water are the components of that diet. Most of those foods are minimally processed and widely obtainable as organic and with minimal pesticide residues, so the effect of the ketogenic diet may well be due to the detoxification just from eating organic. An interesting discussion about why Americans have become obese is presented here, although they don’t mention the tremendous use of herbicides and pesticides which likely accounts for the continued fattening of America despite reduction in soda consumption. One unfortunate fact in the United States is that greens are often heavily contaminated with pesticides and other toxic residues…
It is unfortunate that vegetables, which are necessary for health are now quite difficult to get fresh organic greens in most communities. The Environmental Working Group regularly tests vegetables and publishes their reports, it is a great site to use as it allows you to chose the least contaminated foods. It is also important to properly cook and prepare your food. This is a challenge that virtually everybody is facing and there is no good solution, however there are sites which make the change more easy by outlining the steps needed to improve the farming techniques. Many have advocated growing their own, which is a good idea and it may allow a moderate supplement to their diet. An example of growing food is here. Some countries have recognized the danger and are taking very definitive steps to reverse the degeneration in the food supply and entire states have become completely organic. Perhaps America could follow the lead of India?