My Personal 48-Hour Water Fast
– My Cancer Journey –
 

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist

March 21, 2021

 

 

I wrote about my first 48-hour fast in 2017 – over a year before I was diagnosed with incurable bone marrow cancer. In that article, I discussed various methods of fasting and the benefits published in the medical literature. At that time, I did not do a strict “water fast”.

 

Now I am on my cancer journey. And fasting can play an important role along with my animal-based diet and my other Unconventional Cancer Protocols.

 

Just a couple of weeks ago, I finished my 48-hour water fast. Let me get into the details about fasting and then my personal experience this time around.

 

 

Caution

Always consult your doctor before attempting a 48-hour fast. Generally, there are those individuals who should not fast. They include:

  • Children
  • People with type 1 diabetes
  • People with low blood pressure
  • Those who are underweight or have a history of eating disorders
  • Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to conceive, or have a history of amenorrhea
  • Those taking certain medications such as insulin, blood pressure meds, blood thinners, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)

 

 

Basic Benefits of Fasting[1]

Hippocrates was probably one of the first advocates of fasting for medical purposes. He recommended those who were sick to fast.

 

Research suggests 9 basic benefits we can derive from fasting:

 

  1. Cellular health: Fasting can assist in cellular repair and delay tissue aging, both of which will support overall longevity. In addition, many studies indicate that 48-hour fasting can improve cellular repair and increase cellular strength more than other fasting methods.
  2. Reduced inflammation: Fasting for more than 24 hours will reduce oxidative stress, which will reduce overall inflammation.
  3. Strengthened immune system: When animals in the wild get sick, they stop eating and focus on resting. This is a primal instinct which reduces stress on their internal system and enhances their immune system to fight infection.
  4. Improved insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels: During a 24-hour fast, glycogen (the storage form of glucose) is depleted, and insulin levels are reduced. This allows your body to burn stored fat as fuel. Decreased insulin levels can improve insulin sensitivity and improve sugar control.
  5. Heart health: Several studies suggest that fasting may lower the risk of coronary heart disease and may help lower blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol levels.
  6. Enhanced brain function: Animal studies show that fasting could improve brain function, increase nerve cell synthesis and protect against neurodegenerative conditions (such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s).
  7. Increased hormone secretion: Fasting can increase levels of human growth hormone (HGH), which plays a role in growth, metabolism, weight loss and muscle strength.
  8. Better digestion: Fasting gives the digestive system a break, improves the balance of bacteria in the gut, and increases bacterial diversity.
  9. Weight loss: Fasting may increase metabolism, help preserve muscle mass, and reduce body weight and body fat. A 48-hour fast, once or twice per month, will reduce your calorie intake by up to 8,000 calories per month, which can promote weight loss.

 

 

Cancer Benefits of Fasting[2],[3]

There are specific cancer benefits from fasting. These are related to the prevention of cancer, the decreased growth of cancer cells, and the enhancement of conventional cancer therapy.

 

Fasting …

 

  • Has only mild side effects, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, and weakness
  • Leads to alterations in growth factors and in metabolite levels, creating an environment that will reduce the ability of cancer cells to adapt and survive
  • Decreases the level of critical nutrients thereby inhibiting cancer cells from proliferating at high rates
  • Sensitizes many types of cancer cells to chemotherapeutic medicines.
  • Forces healthy cells to enter a slow division and highly protected mode that protects them against the toxicity from anticancer drugs
  • Prevents detrimental and potentially life-threatening side effects and DNA damage from various cancer treatments

 

 

My Personal 48-Hour Water Fast

To summarize my way of eating: I am following a carnivore diet and stay in ketosis about 6 days a week. To know I am in ketosis, I measure my ketone levels with the Breath Ketone Monitor several times a day. After 6 days of ketosis, I cycle out of ketosis by consuming about 150 grams of carbs to stay metabolically flexible. My carbs generally consist of raw honey and various fruits. The day after my carb day, I return to eating my animal-based diet, which will include less than 20 grams of carbs per day.

 

I started my water fast on Monday, 3/8/21, at 7PM. That Monday was my “cycle day out of ketosis”.

 

The Table below shows the progression of my ketone levels starting from the time I started my fast at 7PM on Monday night until I broke my fast with dinner on Wednesday night at 7PM. I must tell you, I broke my fast with a delicious, juicy, medium-rare ribeye steak cooked to perfection in my Ninja Foodie Indoor Grill.

 

As you can see in the Table, my ketone levels were almost non-existent when I started my fast. They fell to 0.1 mmol/L by Tuesday morning at 8AM as my body was using the available glucose.

 

After my body digested the consumed carbs from Monday and used its glucose for fuel, my body began to mobilize glucose from the glycogen stores in the liver until they were depleted. The Table suggests that my liver glycogen was depleted around 4PM on Tuesday afternoon. That was when my ketone level rose to 0.5 mmol/L, which was about 21 hours after I started my fast.

 

Lipolysis in fat cells and ketone production by the liver then began in earnest. As I continued my water fast, my ketone levels increased to 2.0 mmol/L by the time I broke my fast on Wednesday night.

 

I easily could have gone another 24 hours. My hunger level was minimal, and my energy level was good.

 

All during the fast, I only drank mineral water or non-caffeinated herbal teas brewed in mineral water. I continued to drink my 8 ounces of SOLE water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. SOLE helps hydration and provides 84 trace minerals.

 

 

Here is a Table that identifies the different ketone levels and their significance:

 

Overall Experience

The outcome of my 48-hour water fast was nothing short of amazing.

 

Previous to the fast, I was experiencing slight stomach discomfort – almost like reflux but not to the extent of burning. It was just an “uneasy feeling” in my gut. All during the fast and thereafter, my stomach distress completely disappeared. It has not come back.

 

Also, I noticed stable and even increased energy.

 

The only “hunger” sensation was around noon on Tuesday – about 17 hours after I started the fast. To curb that feeling, I drank herbal tea, which took care of the “hunger” feeling. As Tuesday progressed and until I broke the fast, I did not have a strong desire to eat food.

 

Because of the health benefits I discussed in this writing as well as my overall feeling during the fast, I will continue to do a 48-hour water fast once a month. Maybe next time I will try a 3-day fast. I plan to start my monthly fasts following my “carb cycle day”.

 

[1] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fasting-benefits

[2] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41568-018-0061-0

[3] https://jeccr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13046-019-1189-9

 

 

 

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5 Important Tools
for a
Robust Immune System

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist

December 13, 2020

 

Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

I’m obsessed with getting it right.

From all the research I’ve read and from my personal cancer journey, there is one fact that stands out above all: A robust immune system is critical for wellness.

It’s vital for healthy people; it’s vital for sick people; it’s vital for all who want to be proactive as well as those who are reactive.

A robust immune system is the ticket for fighting diseases arising from external and internal sources. It protects us from pathogens as well as our own cells which become cancerous.

I’m fixated on recreating my robust immune system and evaluating my success along the way. And I’ve assembled a toolbox – my biological measuring tools. It includes 5 biomarkers which tell me what I need to know. I’ve used these measurements to guide me on my journey to a healthier immune system.

You also can use these tools to assess your progress and success.

5 Important Tools

#1. Healthy Gum Tissue

Your mouth can tell a lot about the health of your immune system. One prominent sign is the gum tissue around your teeth. It should never bleed unless it is cut. Never!

If you were to scrub your nails with a nail brush, you should be concerned if the cuticles around your nails started bleeding. Similarly, when you brush your teeth with a toothbrush, you should be concerned if you see any bleeding. The gums are as tough and protective as are your cuticles.

However, if you have a compromised immune system, the gum tissues may become inflamed or infected (i.e., gingivitis). They then may bleed when you clean or rub them. They even may bleed spontaneously. This is a strong indication that your immune system is not functioning ideally.

An excellent method to determine if you have bleeding gums around any tooth is to use a TePe Easy Pick. This is a small, silicone brush used to clean between the teeth at the gum line.

If you see any bleeding when using the TePe Easy Pick around any tooth/gum area in your mouth, you have some form of gum disease. This suggests that you have a compromised immune system.

Here are two pictures demonstrating how to use the TePe Easy Pick between teeth at the gum/tooth margin.

 

#2. Ketone Breath Meter

Metabolic flexibility is necessary to support a responsive immune system. And ketosis is part of being metabolically flexible.

I want to be in ketosis 6 days a week and then cycle into a carb-burning mode on the 7th day. The benefits of ketosis and carb-cycling are documented in the medical literature. Travis Christofferson summarized the unique qualities of ketones in his book, Ketones: The Fourth Fuel.

To help me gauge my ketone levels and document how well I’m doing, I researched three options.

  1. Urine ketone strips are easy and inexpensive. But they are not accurate once your body begins to utilize its blood ketones efficiently and effectively.
  2. Blood ketone levels can be monitored with finger sticks using a blood ketone meter. The readings are accurate, but I would need to prick my finger several times a day, every day. Not for me! I don’t know about you, but it hurts when done repeatedly. Another drawback is that it only gives a static picture at that moment in time.
  3. A ketone breath meter recently came on the market that has clinical research to support its efficacy. It’s was created and is sold by MyBiosense. This meter is unique because it registers acetone levels that are blown out in the latter part of the exhale, which is called Deep Lung Sampling. The readings correlate to the mmol/L of blood ketone levels. Using this device, I can monitor my ketone levels as often as I want with no finger sticks! And the data is stored in the MyBiosense App on my phone for me to review.

My goal is to average a ketone level between 1.5 – 2.5 mmol/L per day while in ketosis. On my “carb” day, my ketone levels will drop below 0.5 mmol/L that day.

#3. Standard Deviation of Glycemic Variability

Glycemic variability is the up and down variations in blood glucose level. It indicates the efficiency of insulin to make glucose available as a fuel or to store it appropriately. If insulin is not effective, glucose levels will get out of control leading to diabetes and various forms of metabolic dysfunction.

Various medical papers have shown that the standard deviation of glycemic variability directly correlates with the risk of chronic disease and cancer. It is inversely correlated with the robustness of the immune system.

I want my glycemic variability to be as low as practical.

I could take finger sticks frequently using a glucometer to register my moment-in-time blood glucose level. But that would not give me a running graph 24/7. It certainly would leave me with painful fingertips. I prefer not.

However, a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) by NutriSense is a device that is worn for two continuous weeks. The CGM inserts a microfiber into the interstitial tissues and attaches to an inconspicuous area of the body with an adhesive. It is painless to insert and wear. But it registers glucose levels every 5 minutes, 24/7. The data is transferred to a NutriSense App, which calculates the standard deviation.

#4. Alpha Diversity of Gut Microbiome

The gut microbiome is made up of about 38 trillion microbes. Our body only has about 30 trillion human cells. We are more “microbial” than “human”!

Many studies have been published describing the variety of species in the gut. These medical papers clearly demonstrate that the greater the diversity and numbers of specific microbes, the healthier the immune system. [1],[2],[3]

A measurement including (1) the diversity of various microbial species in the gut and (2) the number of each of these species is called “Alpha Diversity”. It is generally reported as a percentile compared to the microbial ecosystem in a population of metabolically healthy individuals.

BiomeFx is a stool test marketed by Microbiome Labs and evaluated by CosmosID. Among the many biomarkers reported in this test, Alpha Diversity stands out to me as one of the most significant results.

#5. Blood Level of Vitamin D

Recently, blood levels of Vitamin D have been widely reported as important in the fight against the COVID-19 virus.[4] Previous to the Pandemic, much research has been published emphasizing the importance of adequate levels of Vitamin D to assure a robust innate and adaptive immune function.[5], [6],[7],[8]

Vitamin D is reported to …

  • Prevent excessive expression of inflammatory cytokines
  • Increase the “oxidative burst” potential of macrophages
  • Stimulate the expression of potent anti-microbial peptides, which exist in neutrophils, monocytes, natural killer cells, and in epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract where they play a major role in protecting the lung from infection
  • Affect the action of T cells, key players in adaptive immunity

My Personal Results

#1. Healthy Gum Tissues:

My gums do not bleed. I use the TePe Easy Picks every day.

If you have bleeding gums, you need to address your diet, the health of your gut microbiome, and your oral hygiene techniques. You also need to seek the services of a general dentist or a periodontist (a dentist specializing in periodontal disease).

#2. Ketones:

I stay in ketosis with my animal-based diet 6 days a week. My highest mmol/L while in ketosis has been 2.8; the lowest on those days has been 0.5. My average for 6 days running is 1.5. On my cycle day out of ketosis, I eat between 100 – 150 grams of carbs for that day, and my ketone reading drops to an average of 0.3.

#3. Glycemic Variability:

In July 2020, I wore the CGM from NutriSense for two weeks. My average standard deviation of glycemic variability for that time period was 10. Here is a table showing ranges and their interpretations:

 

#4. Alpha Diversity:

My Alpha Diversity was reported in the BiomeFx stool test I took in August 2020. The results indicated my Alpha Diversity was in the 98th percentile. That meant that 98% of metabolically healthy individuals had less variation of species and numbers of individual microbes than I had.

 

#5. 25 Hydroxy Vitamin D:

My last blood test for 25 Hydroxy Vitamin D was in 6/2020. At that time, my blood level was 89 ng/mL. and I was taking 5,000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily. I have reduced that dosage to every other day, and I’ll have another test shortly. As a cancer patient, I want to keep my Vitamin D level between 60-80 ng/mL.

Bottom Line

A robust immune system is our internal armed forces to fight the fight. My ultimate goal is to make my immune system as robust as I can. The 5 important tools I described will guide me along my path and document my success. They also will confirm that I am remaining where I want to be.

I firmly believe that my cancer journey has been as successful as it has because I have significantly improved my immune system along the way. You may find that my 5 Important Tools will help you monitor your journey to a stronger and more responsive immune system.

 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6906406/

[2] https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0200728

[3] https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2016.00455/full

[4] https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2020/12/11/do-vitamin-d-supplements-help-prevent-respiratory-tract-infections.aspx?ui=baff764f733a1f4f602b56b0683839cc74ea77293ab586e40b1b7b0b93d42111&cid_source=dnl&cid_medium=email&cid_content=art1HL&cid=20201211&mid=DM744365&rid=1032114513

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/

[6] https://health.ucsd.edu/news/releases/pages/2018-06-15-greater-levels-of-vitamin-d-associated-with-decreased-risk-of-breast-cancer.aspx

[7] https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/4/1140

[8] https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/5/1248

 

 

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Why I Eat Carnivore?
– Ketones & Metabolic Flexibility –

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist

September 13, 2020

 

Carnivore Diet Foods

 

I Eat a Carnivore Diet Because:

  • I have cancer
     
  • It reduces dietary carbohydrates to minimal levels and allows my body to enter ketosis and become metabolically flexible
     
  • When I am in ketosis, my body uses ketones as a clean burning fuel with less production of free radicals and less dependence on insulin
     
  • Restricting glucose prevents growth of some cancer cells[1]
     
  • Most cancer cells are unable to effectively use ketones for energy[2],[3]
     
  • By keeping carbs and insulin low, I improve my natural antioxidant capacity and reduce the fluctuations in my blood glucose levels (i.e. glycemic variability)
     
  • A low glycemic variability is a biomarker for improved function of the immune system[4]
     
  • A robust immune system can help my body heal from cancer

 

My Carnivore Diet

If you have been following my cancer journey since I was diagnosed in September 2018, you know that my diet has played a key role in my health. Diet is one of the critical elements in my Unconventional Cancer Protocols.

 

I started a Paleo-type diet about 6 years before I was diagnosed in September 2018. My Paleo style of eating allowed me to become fat adapted. When I was diagnosed with IgA Kappa Light Chain Multiple Myeloma, I changed my Paleo-type diet to a modified Paleo Autoimmune Diet. Basically, I eliminated pasteurized dairy, nightshades, nuts and seeds from my way of eating. But after doing some additional due diligence, I tweaked my diet on 1/1/20 to start a strict Carnivore Diet. At that time, I eliminated all plants. The reason was abundantly clear to me after doing my research.

 

As I documented in my Blog in January, individual case reports of a strict animal-based diet showed profound beneficial effects for cancer patients. Specifically, the Paleomedicina Medical Clinic[5] in Budapest, Hungary identified that ketosis along with an intact gut epithelial barrier were vital factors in resolving or reducing the progression of many malignances.

 

 

Ketosis & Ketones

My body went into ketosis about two weeks after I reduced my carbohydrate level to less than 10 grams a day. I also increased my fat-to-protein ratio to 2:l measured in grams.

 

The science reported by the Paleomedicina Clinic and by Dr. Paul Saladino[6] proved that the Carnivore Diet provided all the nutrients my body required in a biologically available form. In addition, this animal-based way of eating eliminated all plants that contained antinutrients. Antinutrients are substances that might damage my gut microbiome, the mucus layer in my gut, and the epithelial barrier that prevents toxic substances from entering the circulatory system from the gut lumen. These include phytates, lectins, and oxalates.

 

With carbohydrates at extremely low levels, fat levels high, and protein levels moderate, my insulin levels remained low. Low insulin tells fat cells to breakdown triglycerides, which are the stored body fat. Triglycerides are broken down in the fat cells into fatty acids and glycerol, both of which then enter the circulation. The free fatty acids bind to serum albumin in the blood stream, which carries the free fatty acids to the tissues that need energy. Glycerol is absorbed by the liver, where it is converted into glucose.

 

With insulin levels low, fatty acids are converted in the liver into ketones (called acetoacetate and later beta-hydroxybutyrate). Ketones are released into the bloodstream and are a preferred and efficient fuel for cells to burn. In addition, ketones can cross the blood-brain barrier and are available as fuel for the brain.

 

 

Cycling In & Out Of Ketosis

My goal is to maintain metabolic flexibility. Metabolic flexibility is when the body can switch back and forth between burning fat or carbohydrates as fuel based on their availability. By being metabolically flexible, I rarely have any food cravings. I eat when I’m hungry, and I drink when I’m thirsty.

 

I practice intermittent fasting along with cycling in and out of ketosis to improve my metabolic flexibility. Cycling gets my body used to using the fuel that’s available.

 

To maintain metabolic flexibility, I cycle about every 7 days. I decrease the amount of fat I eat and increase my carbohydrate intake to about 100 -150 grams once a week. To do this, I eat plants that are low in phytates, oxalates, and lectins as well as some raw honey during the course of a day. The benefit of cycling out of ketosis about once a week is to stimulate my insulin production to activate pathways to repair my body.[7]

 

 

Ketosis and Antioxidant Efficiency[8]

Beta-hydroxybutyrate, the most studied ketone body, has been shown to reduce the excessive production of free radicals. It also improves the creation of energy in the mitochondria of the cells in the body. In addition, ketones stimulate our own cell’s ability to produce endogenous antioxidants.

 

 

Immune System and Cancer[9]

The immune system protects the body against bacteria, viruses, parasites, and toxins. It also fights disease-causing changes in the body, such as cancer cells. So, a robust immune system is critical for health and healing.  However, cancer can weaken the immune system, and conventional cancer treatment can weaken the immune system further.

 

Cancer can weaken the immune system by creating systemic inflammation and by spreading into the bone marrow. Since bone marrow makes blood cells for the immune system, a malignancy spreading into the bone marrow will decrease the production of healthy blood cells.

 

Specific cancer treatments also can weaken the immune system by decreasing the number of white blood cells made in the bone marrow. Some of the cancer treatments that will weaken the immune system are:

 

  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted cancer drugs
  • Radiation therapy
  • High dose steroids

 

If possible, someone with cancer should do everything in his or her power to improve the immune system. A robust immune system has the ability to recognize cancer cells as abnormal and kill them.

 

 

Glycemic Variability as a Biomarker

I wrote two Blogs where I described the benefits of monitoring my glycemic variability (GV) over a 2-week span (HERE, HERE). The data collected through the use of a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) will provide a record of the fluctuations of tissue glucose 24/7. The GV can suggest the robustness of your immune system and your future risk for metabolic and chronic diseases. The statistical measurement of the fluctuation of glucose levels is called the standard deviation (SD). The SD of GV is a relatively new biomarker. It may be one of the most important biomarkers that a proactive individual should know. If the SD were not in a healthy range, the individual could take steps to improve his or her diet and other environmental factors that could improve glycemic variability, thereby improving the immune system.

 

Here is a table that suggests an interpretation of the SD of GV[10],[11]:

 

Standard Deviation of Glycemic Variability

 

My Bottom Line

My Carnivore Diet is one of my Unconventional Cancer Protocols. It has been a significant factor for me to improve my immune system to help my body heal from cancer.

 

 

[1] https://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(19)30924-6?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS2211124719309246%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4235292/

[3] https://cancerandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40170-018-0180-9

[4] https://cardiab.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12933-020-01085-6

[5] https://paleomedicina.com/en/#blog

[6] https://carnivoremd.com/podcast/

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525983/

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5981249/#sec5-antioxidants-07-00063title

[9] https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/what-is-cancer/body-systems-and-cancer/the-immune-system-and-cancer

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4455369/#!po=34.6154

[11] https://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/67/Supplement_1/1542-P

 

 

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