The Ketogenic diet as a ‘non-toxic strategy’ for cancer treatment:
One Doctor’s surprise findings from Research into Navy Seals.
One of the true champions of the ketogenic diet is Dr. Dominic D’Agostino.
As part of his work as an Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida College Of Medicine, Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology, D’Agostino develops and tests metabolic therapies – techniques and tools that change how the cells (healthy and unhealthy) in our bodies generate and use energy.
The brain and oxygen
For one study, he was asked to explore the effects of gases on the brains of Navy Seal divers; specifically, they wanted to know how to combat the seizures some of them experienced as a result of diving with compressed oxygen. The divers had no choice but to use the oxygen because it doesn’t create bubbles on the surface of the water, which makes the divers undetectable to the enemy.
But their Navy bosses wanted to reduce the risk to their men too. How best to do it was the question.
D’Agostino’s work means he is aware of the ketogenic diet and how it causes the body to switch from burning sugar (glucose) for energy to burning fat, or ketones.
In his study into the Navy Seals, he found that the combination of oxygen and a brain fuelled by dietary carbohydrates meant their brain cells were being over-stimulated, causing the seizures. So he began to look at the idea of developing a ketone supplement that the Navy Seals could take to counteract these effects.
The Brain as a Hybrid Engine
D’Agostino compares the human brain to a hybrid car engine; human evolution – and periods of time when carbs simply weren’t available to us – means it can switch easily from burning one type of fuel to the other.
But – and this is the interesting bit – this is the case only for healthy cells. Cancer cells, which use large amounts of sugar for their energy, cannot make the switch.
In a short but fascinating TEDx video called Starving Cancer D’Agostino talks about how, through his work with the Navy Seals, he came to develop an approach for metabolically starving cancer cells through a combination of diet and compressed oxygen, and in the process replacing chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation. And when they are starved of fuel, cancer cells, like any cell, cannot survive.
What does this mean for cancer sufferers?
D’Agostino’s findings suggest it is possible to cause cancer cells to die through non-toxic methods as well as via the usual conventional treatment pathways.
This is good news all round, not least because the toxic nature of radiotherapy and chemotherapy can have damaging side effects, especially where the body’s immunity has already been greatly weakened or compromised.
But it’s good news in other ways too, because more and more research is showing that the ketogenic diet can actually enhance the effects of treatment by conventional means. So, as well as starving the cancer cells of the fuel they need to grow and proliferate in the first place, the ketogenic diet can make radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment work harder and better.
This is the approach advocated in The Ketogenic Kitchen: until more studies like D’Agostino’s are done on a large scale, with proven outcomes from clinical trials, use the diet to support and enhance conventional treatment, not to replace it.