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You may be wondering, what is a ketogenic diet? It’s a diet that promotes several different health benefits for the human body, benefits that arise when we put ourselves in “starvation mode.” And it makes sense; thousands of years ago, humans didn’t have access to food every single day. We often went many days without a “kill,” and many wild animals do the same today. We are biologically built to go long periods of time without food, and when we do so, we turn on genes and activate aspects of our biology that improve our health in a multitude of ways. Yet we’re constantly eating, and as a result, our bodies are always burning sugar for fuel instead of fat.

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The human body only has two fuel sources, fat and glycogen (sugar). When we have a lot of sugar stored in the body (from consuming carbohydrates, for example, which turn into sugar), our body uses that sugar to feed our brain and other organs, providing the energy they need to function.

When the body runs out of glucose, it switches energy sources, from glycogen to fat. This can only happen when the body is depleted of its glycogen reserves.

It is in this mode that ketone bodies are produced, molecules created by the liver from fatty acids during periods of starvation, fasting, low food intake, carbohydrate restrictive/high fat diets, and long, intense exercise.

Today, a ketogenic diet is used to treat cancer, seizure disorders like epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and more. It’s slowly gaining popularity, but still relatively obscure in mainstream medicine and pharmacology (probably because you can’t profit from people fasting). That being said, it’s well known, as mentioned in this podcast with Joe Rogan and  Dr. Dom D’Agostino, that the pharmaceutical industry is very interested in ketosis.

It seems they’re working to make a pill that mimics the effects of a ketogenic diet, instead of encouraging people to do it naturally.

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D’Agostino and his colleagues published a study titled “The Ketogenic Diet & Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Prolong Survival in Mice with Systemic Metastatic Cancerthat explains it’s already known that the ketogenic diet elevates blood ketones and has been shown to slow cancer progression in both animals and humans. The study also revealed that the ketogenic diet “significantly decreased blood glucose, slowed tumor growth, and increased mean survival time by 56.8 percent in mice with systemic metastatic cancer.”

Oxygen therapy alone had no effect on cancer progression, but when combined with a ketogenic diet, created an even greater decrease in blood glucose and tumour growth rate, and resulted in a 77.9% increase in mean survival time compared to controls.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, used in this study, overwhelms tumours with oxygen, which has been shown to reverse certain aspects of cancer growth. It’s another non-toxic therapy that can help with cancer.

“Our evidence suggests that these therapies should be further investigated as potential non-toxic treatments or adjuvant therapies to standard care for patients with systemic metastatic disease.”

Related CE Article: It’s Time To Put An End To Animal Testing: Here’s How We Can Do It

Alternatives to animal experimentation in basic research. (PMID:15586255)

Alternatives to animal testing: current status and future perspectives

Alternatives to animal testing via PETA

Below is a TEDx talk with Dr. D’Agostino discussing the diet and the study in more detail.

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