Cancer and Nutrition
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 he very clearly says that after 30 years of studying various dietary recommendations and observing hundreds of patients on multiple different diets he has decided that there is no one magic solution. The human body is designed to be omnivorous and thrive in a tremendous variety of environments, thus the body has many different biologic pathways which all lead 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. Here are some examples of different but very healthy diets…
Dr. Sharda is certainly well aware of the common knowledge that cancer prefers to eat glucose—however he is also well aware that almost every cell in the body has a preference for glucose. It is also abundantly 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–most of the protein undergoes gluconeogenesis in the liver, which is a inefficient metabolic pathway to making glucose. Some studies have suggested that mitochondrial damage causes cells to become cancerous and subsist only on glucose, and that without glucose those cells starve. The truth is a little more complex because many in vivo studies have demonstrated that cancer cells have normal functioning mitochondria, and those cancer cells can subsist adequately on either glucose or 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/. This website makes it 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. Another issue that keeps making the rounds is that of the acid and alkaline nature of our bodies, and that cancer somehow thrives in an acid environment. For more detailed information about this topic, Dr. Sharda has written an article here.
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 benefited. 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. One unfortunate fact in the United States is that vegetables are often heavily contaminated with pesticides and other toxic residues… the fact remains that vegetables are necessary for health but it is difficult to get fresh organic greens in most communities. This is a challenge that virtually everybody is facing and there is no good solution. Many have advocated growing their own, which is a good idea and it may allow a moderate supplement to their diet. Sprouting seeds is an easy and enjoyable first step to starting to grow your own vegetables. Ornamental kale is nice to look at as well as tasty! For the true do it yourselfer who does not own farmland, a greenhouse can provide healthy and organic nutrition for a whole family year round. It is up to you to decide what and how much effort you are going to put into your own health.
For more information about various cancers, you should visit here.
This is just an introductory discussion, there is a whole library of knowledge to impart. Stay tuned…