The cancer cells rely on glucose from carbohydrates to divide and grow. The existing theory is that these cells can’t use ketones for energy, while our body and our brain cells can. This was a starting point of a recent small study, which investigated how a modified ketonic diet influences people with a specific brain cancer, namely astrocytoma. The main goal of the study was to see whether people had no serious side effects after following a modified ketonic diet.

In the study the participants followed a type of ketogenic diet, the modified Atkins diet with intermittent fasting, for 8 weeks under a supervision of a dietician. The diet included foods such as bacon, eggs, heavy cream, butter, leafy green vegetables and fish. 5 days a week the participants followed the modified Atkins diet, which combined carbohydrate restriction with high amounts of fats. 2 days a week they fasted, eating up to 20% of their recommended daily calorie amount.

The study found that the diet was well-tolerated and led to changes in the metabolism in the participant’s body and brain. To be more specific, following the diet for 8 weeks diet helped decrease hemoglobin A1c levels, insulin levels, and fat body mass, while increasing lean body mass together with the concentrations of ketones and metabolic changes in the tumor.

It is worth mentioning that all participants had completed radiation treatment and chemotherapy before they started to follow the diet.

The researchers highlight that more studies are needed to see whether this modified ketogenic diet can prevent the growth of brain tumors and help people live longer. However, the results of this study show that the diet is not only safe for people with astrocytomas, but also successfully changes the metabolism of the body and the brain.

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Tatsiana Haponava, PhD

a certified nutrition coach, educator and researcher with a PhD degree

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