Food as Medicine

Food as Medicine
Food as Medicine

Most of our readers by now are probably familiar with the ketogenic diet. Is it for real?

The FDA won’t allow any claims to be made about using food to combat illness (with a few exceptions). Walnut and cherry growers have been threatened with jail for daring to mention university research about their products, both of which are indeed “super foods.”

The ketogenic diet is a lot more complicated that eating a few (not too many) walnuts and cherries often. Does the evidence support it? Yes!

Dr. Jeanne Drisko, ANH-USA board chairman and medical director, and director of KU Integrative Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center, has focused on the clinical use of the ketogenic diet—a diet high in healthy fat, adequate in protein, and very low in carbohydrates, especially starches, and preferably with no added sugars. What she has found is very encouraging.

First of all, let’s define what the diet does. It changes the way energy is created and used in the body. When glucose levels are low, the body converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies, which replace glucose as the body’s energy source. This can be preferable; fat is a more efficient energy source than glucose. The state in which most of a person’s energy comes from ketone bodies in the blood rather than glucose is called ketosis. (Don’t confuse dietary ketosis with diabetic ketoacidosis, which type 1 diabetics can develop if they don’t inject enough insulin. Benign dietary ketosis, on the other hand, is safe and regulated by the insulin that the body produces naturally.)

These changes can be potent in fighting disease. Take cancer, for example. Working with a naturopath, Dr. Drisko found that responses to intravenous vitamin C were greatly improved when the patient had more “good” fat and less glucose. The ketogenic diet also helps to “starve” cancer—since cancer cells thrive on glucose, eliminating carbohydrates (which the body converts into glucose) literally starves cancer. Cancer will have some glucose available and can also use some amino acids, but its growth can be significantly slowed.

The ketogenic diet is useful for far more than just cancer. Dr. Drisko has found that this diet along with detoxification can help people with many other chronic illnesses, endocrine disruption, and autoimmune disorders. It has helped people with epilepsy avoid seizures.

The alternatives for treating these diseases are often expensive pharmaceutical drugs that may just mask symptoms and have terrible side effects. In the case of cancer, chemotherapy and radiation take an especially heavy toll on patients and their immune systems. Nutritional therapies may help restore the body’s own ability to heal.

It must be emphasized, however, that each of us is different—and the degree of difference can be surprising. Some of us need fewer carbs, others of us might need more. Some of us may also benefit from fasting protocols that limit food consumption at certain times of the day or week. This is usually called intermittent fasting (IM). In many cases, this helps blood sugar readings. But in other cases, it might not. Getting customized help from an integrative physician can help figure this out.

To learn more about the possibility of treating an illness, especially cancer, with diet and lifestyle, be sure to consult an integrative physician. Dr. Drisko will be participating in the Conquering Cancer Conference, September 22­­–24, in Orlando, Florida. This promises to be an excellent opportunity to learn more about these issues.

In addition, those interested in learning more about the ketogenic diet and/or intermittent fasting can find many useful articles on Mercola.com. And for the most up-to-date research on intravenous vitamin C for oncology treatment, doctors should consider attending a symposium hosted by the University of Kansas Medical Center, which will offer opportunities for healthcare professionals to learn more about this therapy.

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