Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
September 13, 2020
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
- Most cancer cells are unable to effectively use ketones for energy,
- 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
- 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 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 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.
Ketosis and Antioxidant Efficiency
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
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:
- 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.
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.
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