5 Nutrition Strategies for Cancer Prevention

5 Nutrition Strategies for Cancer Prevention

Ketogenic Meal

An estimated 225,800 new cases of cancer and 83,300 deaths from cancer will occur in Canada in 2020. Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada and is responsible for 30% of all deaths.

Based on 2015 estimates nearly 1 in 2 Canadians (45% of men and 43% of women) is expected to develop cancer during their lifetime and approximately 1 out of 4 Canadians (26% of men and 23% of women) is expected to die from cancer. (Canada Cancer society)

Based on research from the New England Medical Journal of 45,000 twins it was identified that 85% of cancers are caused by environmental factors, including diet and lifestyle. Humankind has invented 10 million new chemicals and unwittingly released thousands of these into our environment, many of which are known as carcinogens. In fact, the growth in the incidence of cancer parallels the industrialization and chemicalization of our world, which is why we are likely seeing the ongoing rise of cancer rates over the last century(1) .

Specific to the impact of nutrition, the World Cancer Research fund indicated that eating the right diet may cut your risk of cancer by up to 40%. The key organs that help to fight off cancer are your liver and your immune system, so nutrition support to help these organs function at their best is important. We also want to help create a terrain within our bodies that is not conducive to cancer growth, which includes having a more alkaline state.

So, let’s have a look at what dietary changes you can make to help reduce your risk of getting cancer:

1. Consume at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (ideally organic to reduce chemical exposure). You should also include a rainbow of colours to ensure you are consuming a wide-range of cruciferous vegetables daily, such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale helps support the liver the key organ in helping to combat cancer.Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants which extensive research is showing can help treat and prevent cancer. In a scientific review of 206 human and 22 animal studies it was shown that greater fruit and vegetable intake has a protective effect with cancers of the stomach, esophagus, lung, oral cavity, pharaynx, endomedtrium, pancreas and colon (2). We must also consider that cancer thrives in a low-oxygen, acidic environment (Cancer Research Journal 2006) and eating fresh fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, is great way to help increase the pH levels in the blood which puts the body in a more alkalinize state making it a more difficult environment for cancer cells to grow. Where as grains, coffee and sugars lower pH levels making the body more acidic so these foods should be avoided.

2. Reduce red meat intake including beef, pork, lamb and goat and processed meats such as hot dogs, sausages, deli meats. Red meat is acidic to the body which creates an environment conducive to cancer growth. The World Cancer Research Fund recommended if you do eat red meat this should be limited to at most 500 grams a week). One study found that women who ate red meat every day had a 56% increase risk of breast cancer (4). Plus, research shows that people that consume higher amounts of red meat are at greater risk of stomach, pancreatic and breast cancer(3). Red meat consumption in countries that inject growth hormones and other hormones to increase milk supply can increase the risk of hormone-based cancers such as breast and prostate.

If you are consuming red meat opt for organic, grass-fed beef, lamb or game, as these meats are less inflammatory than their factory-farmed counterparts. Maintaining a focus on lean organic, free-range eggs, poultry and game, wild-caught fish, and vegetable-based proteins is important.

Processed meats contain N-nitroso compounds (NOCs), which can damage DNA and contribute to cancer development. High cooking temperatures may produce additional carcinogens in meats. You should especially avoid chargrilled meat on the BBQ and frying as this is creates well-known carcinogens and increases the risk of stomach and colorectal cancer. A healthier cooking option is frying foods in a little water as opposed to oils, which often become rancid at high heats.

3. Avoid sugar. Cancer cells usually grow quickly, and multiply at fast rates, which takes a lot of energy – this means they need lots of glucose. Cancer cells thrive on sugar. In fact, individuals with type 2 diabetes have three times the risk of developing cancer. A diet rich in sugary foods and beverages can lead to obesity, which significantly raises your risk of cancer (5). Cancer Research UK reports eating high amounts of sugar over time can cause you to gain weight, and robust scientific evidence shows that being overweight or obese increases the risk of 13 different types of cancer. Obesity is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking.

Additionally, sugar is acidic to the body and cancer tends to thrive in acidic environments. Diets high in sugar increase inflammation in your body and may lead to insulin resistance, both of which increase cancer risk (6). A study in over 430,000 people found that added sugar consumption was positively associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer, pleural cancer and cancer of the small intestine (7).

4. Limit Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the top three causes of cancer deaths worldwide. Last year, it is estimated that as many as 10,700 Canadians were diagnosed with cancer linked to their alcohol consumption (Canadian Cancer Society). A survey showed that 60% of Ontario women and 41% of Ontario men exceed the alcohol consumption guidelines recommended by the Canadian Cancer Society.  

The National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known human carcinogen. The evidence indicates that the more alcohol a person drinks—particularly the more alcohol a person drinks regularly over time—the higher his or her risk of developing an alcohol-associated cancer. Both light drinkers (those who have no more than one drink per day) and binge drinkers have an increased risk of some cancers (8-12). 

Alcohol consumption can increase the risk of mouth and throat, larynx, oesophagus, breast, liver and bowel cancer. The Canadian Cancer Society recommends that women have less than one standard drink per day and men have less than two standard drinks per day.

 

While there’s no one thing any of us can do (or not do) to ensure with certainty that we don’t develop cancer, there are many diet and lifestyle changes that we can make as individuals in order to give ourselves the best chance possible of a long and healthy life!

Download our free 1-day cancer preventative meal plan as a kick-start to altering your diet in a way that will help prevent the development of cancer.

If you want to take things a step further, we would love to meet with you one-on-one to complete a thorough assessment to help determine your risk of developing cancer and help educate you about diet and lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk.

 

References

  1. Waller “the disease of civilization” Ecologist, 1970:1(2)
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8841165
  3. Nothlings and L.N Kolonel “Risk factors for Pancreatic cancer in the Hawaii-Los Angeles Multiethnic cohort study Hawaii Medical Journal, 2006 Jan,:65 (1):26-8
  4. F Taylor , et al “meat conusmtoion and risk of breast cancer in the UK Womens Cohort Dtudy” British Jounral of Cancer, 2007, April 10;96 (7): 1139-46
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3773450/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3595327/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3494407/
  8. Bagnardi V, Rota M, Botteri E, et al. Light alcohol drinking and cancer: a meta-analysis. Annals of Oncology 2013; 24(2):301-308. [PubMed Abstract]
  9. Bagnardi V, Rota M, Botteri E, et al. Alcohol consumption and site-specific cancer risk: a comprehensive dose-response meta-analysis. British Journal of Cancer 2015; 112(3):580-593. [PubMed Abstract]
  10. Cao Y, Willett WC, Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci EL. Light to moderate intake of alcohol, drinking patterns, and risk of cancer: results from two prospective US cohort studies. BMJ 2015; 351:h4238. [PubMed Abstract]
  11. Chen WY, Rosner B, Hankinson SE, Colditz GA, Willett WC. Moderate alcohol consumption during adult life, drinking patterns, and breast cancer risk. JAMA 2011; 306(17):1884-1890. [PubMed Abstract]
  12. White AJ, DeRoo LA, Weinberg CR, Sandler DP. Lifetime alcohol intake, binge drinking behaviors, and breast cancer risk. American Journal of Epidemiology 2017; 186(5):541-549. [PubMed Abstract]

 

Top 6 Cancer-Preventative Foods

Top 6 Cancer-Preventative Foods

Ketogenic Meal

There is growing research on the power of foods and the impact on preventing, or even addressing, cancer. This is empowering for people who are at risk or who have cancer!

All of us have “cancerous” cells in our bodies at all times – this is normal. Our bodies are constantly making new cells, and sometimes things go wrong. However, in a healthy body, the number of these cells is small enough that our immune system is able to detect the cancerous cells and destroy them before they have the chance to get out of control. Many of the foods below help to prevent cancer development because they either support the healthy division of new cells (meaning the body makes fewer mistakes), or because they support the immune system in targeting cancer cells, or both!

Let’s explore some of the top 6 foods that can help us fight cancer.

 

1. Turmeric

The Indian spice, turmeric, is anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and can be extremely helpful when it comes to fighting cancer. Studies show that the active compound curcumin, found in turmeric, may help to kill cancer cells and slow tumor growth (1).

The research on the benefits of curcumin with cancer show that it can help protect against every stage of cancer development including initiation, promotion and progression. Curcumin has been shown to block cancer cells from multiplying, and in killing colon, breast, prostate, and melanoma cancer cells as well as slowing or inhibiting tumor growth (2).

2009 study found that curcumin can kill many types of cancer cells in multiple ways. Because more than one method is possible, cancer cells are less likely to become curcumin-resistant. Curcumin targets only cancer cells, leaving healthy cells unaffected. This is an important step in potential treatment because chemotherapy drugs kill both healthy cells and cancer cells (3).

Add some turmeric to your next dinner, take a supplement containing curcumin to experience the benefits of this powerful substance, or make a Golden Milkshake.  Link to recipe

  1. https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article/100/9/616/917868
  2. Krishnaswamy, et al Retardation of experimental tumorgenisis and reduction in DNA adducts by tummeric and curcumin, Nutrition and cancer  1998; 30 (2): 163-6
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2758121/

2. Garlic

The American Institute of Cancer indicates that there are many ways in which garlic and its compounds may help prevent cancer. Lab studies show that garlic compounds help with DNA repair, slow the growth of cancer cells, decrease inflammation and prevent the formation of carcinogenic substances in the body. A 2019 study further supported the role of garlic in DNA repair in that (at least in the lab) garlic appeared to enhance the expression of tumor suppressor genes.

Garlic has natural antioxidants and is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral. It contains high levels of sulfur, flavonoids, and selenium all of which are nutrients that support our liver and immune system. Plus, when it is crushed, chopped, or bruised, garlic produces the compound allicin which can help inhibit tumor growth (7).

Garlic contains allyl sulfur and other compounds that slow or prevent the growth of tumor cells. Allyl sulfur compounds, which occur naturally in garlic and onions, make cells vulnerable to the stress created by products of cell division. Because cancer cells divide very quickly, they generate more stressors than most normal cells. Thus, cancer cells are damaged by the presence of allyl sufur compounds to a much greater extent than normal cells (1).

After a review of the global research, AICR’s reports found that eating garlic frequently lowers the risk of colorectal cancers and breast cancer, stomach, colon, lung and prostate (2,3,4,5,6).

Based on the research, eating 2–5 grams (approximately one clove) of fresh garlic per day, or 300 to 1,000 milligrams of garlic extract, reaps benefits.

  1. https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=23591
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01635581.2019.1651349
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4366009/
  4. https://cancerpreventionresearch.aacrjournals.org/content/6/7/711?sid=179e57a9-3770-409d-84bc-cd83ef816963
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12419792/
  6. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/garlic-fact-sheet
  7. https://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/20/4/431

 3. Green tea

Green tea is an excellent antioxidant, and studies show the properties of green tea help protect against metastasis of certain kinds of cancer (1). Green tea also contains chemicals called polyphenols that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The nutrient EGCG in green tea can help induce cell death in human cancer cells.

A comprehensive review of observational studies found that women who drank had an approximately 20–30% lower risk of developing breast cancer, one of the most common cancers in women (2). Another study observed that men drinking green tea had a lower risk of advanced prostate cancer (3) and an analysis of 29 studies showed that those drinking green tea were around 42% less likely to develop colorectal cancer (4).

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3142888/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19437116
  3. https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/167/1/71/185454
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28454102 

 4. Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, radish, and turnips.

All cruciferous vegetables contain glucosinolates, natural substances that break down during chopping, cooking, chewing and digestion into biologically active compounds called isothiocyanates and indoles. In laboratory experiments in rats and mice, these compounds have been found to inhibit cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, liver, lung and stomach. They protect cells from DNA damage by inactivating carcinogens and decreasing inflammation. Plus, they can help inhibit the formation of blood vessels and the migration of tumor cells, two processes that help spread cancer.

Cruciferous vegetables also contain other protective compounds, including carotenoids, plant pigments that may control abnormal cell growth; vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells and supporting the immune system; and folate, which may also help to maintain healthy DNA and keep cancer-promoting genes turned off (1).

One analysis of 35 studies showed that eating more cruciferous vegetables was associated with a lower risk of colorectal and colon cancer (2).

Link to recipe above the Kale, red cabbage salad

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/07/well/eat/do-cruciferous-vegetables-really-fight-cancer.html
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23211939

 5. Flax seed

Lignans are plant compounds that have antioxidant and estrogen properties, both of which can help lower the risk of cancer and improve health (1).

Some studies have shown that consuming 25 grams of flaxseed a day may reduce tumor growth in breast and prostate cancer. It can also reduce the body’s production of estrogen, so its benefits have been linked to breast cancer prevention. In fact, consuming flaxseed can enhance the effectiveness of tamoxifen, a drug commonly used to prevent breast cancer recurrence (2). 

The American Institute of Cancer Research reported that in a one month-long trial of about 30 post-menopausal women with newly diagnosed breast cancer, daily flaxseed consumption decreased signs of cancer cell growth. In several studies of healthy women consuming flaxseed daily, estrogen levels decreased or shifted to more of a relatively inactive form, resulting in less estrogen in the form believed to promote breast cancer growth.

Additionally, according to a Canadian study involving more than 6,000 women, those who eat flax seeds are 18% less likely to develop breast cancer (3). Further studies show benefits with colon, prostate and lung cancer (4,5)

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17301257
  2. https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/cancerwise/3-nutrients-cancer-survivors-should-know-flaxseed-omega-3s-iron.h00-159305412.html
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23354422
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15134976
  5. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1541-4337.2009.00105.x

 6. Berries

The researchers, led by Dr. Minna Rahnasto-Rilla, found that one type of anthocyanin, known as cyanidin, found in wild bilberry, raspberry, and cranberry, appeared to reduce the activity of cancer-causing genes and boost the activity of cancer-stopping genes (1).

Studies show that several antioxidants in berries, including anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and resveratrol, may reduce cancer risk (2,3,4). Specifically, animal and human studies suggest that berries may protect against cancer of the esophagus, skin, lung, mouth, breast, and colon (5, 6,7,8,9).

Most berries also contain antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C which can all support a healthy immune system and liver function which is important to creating a terrain within the body that is not favourable to cancer growth. 

It’s ideal to consume berries daily, with attention to consuming a variety of different berries. Berries can be put in smoothies, on salads, with plain Greek yoghurt, on oatmeal, or just eaten on their own. Be sure to choose organic to avoid unnecessary exposure to pesticides and other chemicals, which are known carcinogens. 

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321410#Berries,-cancer-genes,-and-the-future
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25788047
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0963996911002572
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16084717
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19139022
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24222110
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22571764
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22823889
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21123457

Those are our top 6 cancer-preventative foods – turmeric, garlic, green tea, flaxseed, cruciferous vegetables and berries!

We’ve done some of the legwork for you do pack more of these protective foods into your diet and are offering our free 1-day cancer preventative meal plan for download.

If you want to take things a step further, we would love to meet with you one-on-one to complete a thorough assessment to help determine your risk of developing cancer and help educate you about diet and lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk.

 

 

 

The Ketogenic Diet: How To Get Started And Avoid Common Mistakes

The Ketogenic Diet: How To Get Started And Avoid Common Mistakes

Ketogenic Meal

The ketogenic diet has become popular among fad dieters in recent years. In reality, the ketogenic diet is a very specific dietary protocol that is easy to apply incorrectly. Because it requires specific macronutrient ratios and specific healthy fats, there are lots of individuals doing “keto” the “wrong way”.

Because the ketogenic diet is very specific, if you do not adhere to the strict ratios or consume the right types food, then your ability to get into or remain in ketosis will be difficult. To be successful with a ketogenic diet you must be consuming 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbohydrates.

Below we cover some common mistakes individuals make when undertaking a ketogenic diet, as well as some tips to ensure you avoid these pitfalls so you’re experience with the ketogenic diet can be a successful as possible.

Common Mistakes

Consuming Too Much Dairy
A common mistake people make is consuming high amounts of dairy products. Although dairy is high in fat, it is also high in the milk sugar lactose (which is a carbohydrate). Dairy can also be inflammatory to the body, so dairy should be consumed in moderation

Not Eating Enough Vegetables
Because the ketogenic diet eliminates all grains, starchy vegetables and almost all fruits, it is easy to establish eating habits that do not provide enough variety in the diet. An individual may be so focused on consuming enough fat that they forget about all the vegetables! Consumption of non-starchy vegetables is crucial because a high meat diet such as keto can be very acidic to the body. High acidity can lead to fatigue, gut issues, and headaches, but to name a few. While on the keto diet you must be consuming a lot of darky green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, asparagus and other low-starch vegetables in order to off-set the acidity of the animal products.

Not Staying Hydrated
Because of the metabolic process of burning ketones and getting into ketosis you are required to drink a lot of water, which often people do not do. When first starting keto the body starts using up all its glucose storage, which is stored in the form of glycogen. Glucose holds onto water so when glycogen is broken down the body releases water, which is why you will find yourself frequenting the washroom in the first 2 weeks and this can often lead you to being dehydrated.

Not Consuming Enough Variety of Fats
On the ketogenic diet it’s important to consume a variety of good fats from sources such as avocado, olives, free range eggs, nuts, olives oil, oily fish, grass fed beef, and coconut oil. It is easy to revert to bacon, processed deli meats, soft cheeses, which are highly processed and contain additives and preservatives that can in fact be detrimental to your health if consumed in large amounts.

Over-consuming Protein
By trying to consume enough fats often individuals over-consume protein in the forms of meats, which results in the consumption of too much protein (>30% intake). When consuming high amounts of protein your body can actually break this down and convert this to glucose which will result in kick you out” of ketosis.

Not Planning Ahead
Going out for the day without preparing what you will eat, or knowing keto friendly options while out, can be a recipe for disaster.

 

Helpful Tips To Be Successful with the Ketogenic Diet

Prepare Before You Start
You are going to need time to throw out or use up foods in your house that are not “keto friendly”. Keeping these foods in a cupboard or pantry can lead to temptation, especially when you are transitioning into ketosis and your cravings for carbs will be high. So, take time to get rid of the foods that will not serve your goal and replace them with high quality keto-friendly foods.

Meal planning for the week
It can be quite an adjustment to prepare different meals and recipes that you may not be familiar with. Putting together a meal plan in advance so you don’t feel stuck is a great strategy to support your success.

Get educated
The ketogenic diet doesn’t have to be complicated, but it is important to educate yourself properly on the pros and cons of the diet, what foods you should be consuming, and what you need to be avoiding. It might be necessary, especially if you have health issues, to recruit a health professional such as a nutritionist or dietitian to help you navigate the process and ensure your success with the diet.

Recruit Support
Change is always a challenge. It will be even more difficult to be successful on a ketogenic diet if your whole household is still loading up on potatoes, pasta and pizza while you are munching on boiled eggs and guacamole. If recruiting them into the diet is not possible, then creating meals that serve the whole family can still an option! For example, you might make a Greek chicken salad, but serve it with roasted potatoes on the side for the rest of the family. Again, you might find if more stress-free to have a health professional l(ink) assist you with the menu planning to take the stress out of meal times.

Managing the “Keto Flu”
While your body is moving from a carb-burner to a keto-burner, you are going to experience various symptoms as you progress through that transition and your body learns to adapt by making more fat enzymes, readjusting hormones, and so on. You can also experience the “keto flu” as a result of stress, imbalance of vitamins and minerals, dehydration or deficiency in eletcrolytes. If you are someone that has relied heavily on carbs then you are likely to experience more significant symptoms. The “keto flu” usually sets in between day 3 and 7 and ends between day 5 and 14.

Symptoms of the “keto flu” include brain fog, headaches, insomnia, dizziness, heart palpitations, irritability, nausea, carb cravings, fatigue, weakness, diarrhea and muscle cramps.

To help combat the “keto flu” symptoms:

  • Drink Bone Broth – It is rich in electrolytes, collagen and water for hydration.
  • Drink lots of water – Carbs hold onto water so while your body is breaking down glucose (in the form of glycogen) it releases water resulting in frequent washroom breaks as a result you need to be consuming water to offset this water loss.
  • Consume foods rich in electrolytes – You can consume potassium from avocados, nuts, dark leafy greens and salmon; magnesium from dark chocolate, nuts, artichoke, fish and spinach; sodium from Himalayan sea salt, bone broth, pickles and miso soup; calcium from dark leafy greens, almonds and sardines; phosphorus from nuts, seeds, dark chocolate; and chloride from olives and seaweed.
  • Rest – Be mindful of activities that cause you to sweat a lot and lose water. Avoid strenuous activities in the beginning.

Tracking your Macros
It is really important to track your macronutrient intake and calories, especially in the beginning. You can do this by using apps on your phone such as Cronometer or My Fitness Pal. These apps can help you see how much or little you need to be consuming to hit your target macros. You may be surprised to see how hard it can be to get your fat intake up to 75% and to keep your carbs down to the 5%. It is a great learning tool to understand your food and meal combinations.

Use Ketostix to Track Ketosis
In the beginning, while you are learning how to do the diet, it is beneficial to track when you are in ketosis and if you can maintain that state. If you move out of ketosis, you can track how long it takes you to move back in. The keto strips can be purchased at your local drug store and just involves taking your urine sample. Blood tests are more effective but more expensive.

 

Hopefully that has given you some helpful tips to support your ketogenic journey. Please follow us on Instagram and Facebook to get more information and recipes to help you on your keto program, or contact us here at Koru nutrition — we would love to help you.

Top 5 Health Benefits Of The Ketogenic Diet

Top 5 Health Benefits Of The Ketogenic Diet

Ketogenic Spread of Foods

Although the ketogenic diet was designed as a treatment for epilepsy in 1921 by Dr. Russel Wilder, MD. It’s use declined with the modern era of antiepileptic drug treatment. However, the Ketogenic diet has had a massive resurgence and has gained mainstream popularity in recent years due to its ability to assist in significant weight loss. By now, we’ve all heard that you can lose weight while following the “keto” diet. But, what is the ketogenic diet and what are the health benefits?

What is the Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet consists of consuming 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbohydrates. When eating like this it results in your body switching from burning carbohydrates (glucose) to burning fat (ketones) for energy instead. Having ketones in your body, and using fat as fuel over sugar, does have various benefits.

Health Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet

  1. Weight Loss:
    Multiple studies show that the ketogenic diet helps facilitate (often significant) weight loss (1). One study found that people on a ketogenic diet lost 2.2 times more weight than those on a calorie-restricted low-fat diet(2). Another study found that people on the ketogenic diet lost 3 times more weight than those on the diet recommended by Diabetes UK (3).

One of the reasons for this is that fat helps us feel satiated, it fills us up and it helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. As a result it helps to reduce cravings, reduce appetite, and reduce caloric intake (4, 5).

  1. May help to Prevent and Address Diabetes:
    Because of the ketogenic diet’s effect on blood sugars research has been done on its effect utility in addressing diabetes. One study found that the ketogenic diet improved insulin sensitivity by a whopping 75% (6). Another study in people with type 2 diabetes found that 7 of the 21 participants were able to stop using all diabetes medications (7). Please remember, it is advised that if you have diabetes and want to embark on the ketogenic diet that you speak with a qualified health care professional first and that you are monitored throughout the diet so any necessary medication adjustments can be made for your safety.
  1. Help Manage Neurodegenerative Diseases:
    Research suggest the ketones that are generated while following the ketogenic diet can provide neuroprotective benefits, which means they can strengthen and protect brain and nerve cells (11). Not only does the ketogenic diet help to reduce seizures, but it has also been shown to slow the progression and improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, (9) as well as reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (8). In one animal study it was shown that the ketogenic diet boosted the clearance of beta-amyloid protein in the brain — the “building blocks” that, in Alzheimer’s, stick together, forming toxic plaques which interfere with neuronal signaling (10).

Research also shows improved cognitive function and improved mood. One study showed lower levels of anxiety and mood-disturbed behavior and children were rated as more productive. Cognitive test results also showed improvements (12).

For more information on Spinal Cord Injury and the ketogenic diet, click here

  1. Cancer Prevention
    Research shows many cancers thrive on sugar, and therefore, that restricting sugar intake might help combat certain cancerous tumor growths by creating an unfavorable metabolic environment for the cancer cells (13). In addition to helping regulate blood sugar levels, a ketogenic diet could help create metabolic oxidative stress in cancer cells. This could also help make the cells more sensitive to treatments like chemotherapy and radiation (14). Research in this area is still in the early phases.
  1. Reducing Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
    The ketogenic diet may be associated with some improvements in certain cardiovascular risk factors, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and HDL cholesterol levels (16). Research has shown that total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol often decrease while on a ketogenic diet, while “good” protective HDL cholesterol increases. Blood sugar and HbA1C (which is a blood marker that indicates a two- to three-month average of blood sugar levels) also tend to go down. Both are positive steps at reducing cardiovascular disease (15).

     

These are just some of the benefits of the ketogenic diet. However, the diet is difficult to implement and is often done incorrectly. It is recommended that you seek nutritional support if you want to undertake a ketogenic diet, especially if you have a health condition. Please reach out to Koru Nutrition if you would like this support, and please follow us on Facebook and Instagram for some great keto recipes!

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17332207
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12679447
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17971178
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19227486
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20645852
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15767618
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16318637
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2367001/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16505339
  10. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-25190-5
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31405021
  12. https://www.epilepsybehavior.com/article/S1525-5050(16)30055-5/fulltext
  13. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211124719309246?via%3Dihub
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4215472/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5452247/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5452247/

 

 

 

     

     

     

     

    5 Steps To Support Your Immune System

    5 Steps To Support Your Immune System

    Supporting the Immune System Koru Nutrition

    You aren’t alone right now in trying to find ways to keep you and your family healthy and your immune systems strong. Individuals and families have been stocking up on their vitamin C and other immune boosting supplements. This is a great step, but there are many other things that you can be doing , or not doing, to optimize your immunity.

    5 Steps To Support Your Immune System:

    #1. Reduce Sugar Consumption

    Are you like most folks? Have you found that while in social isolation, you’re tending to over indulge in certain foods? In particular, comfort foods such as chocolate, ice cream, and sweets? Maybe as you search for things to help keep yourself or the kids entertained, you’re baking more frequently, and eating the results?

    Although these foods may feel comforting in the moment, and baking can help ease boredom, sugar has a detrimental effect on the immune system.

    Sugar can suppress the immune system (by altering the function of specific immune cells, called neutrophils) for up to 5 hours after ingestion. (Sanchez A. et al, 1973) Because the effect lasts for many hours, if you eat sweets several times a day, your immune system may be perpetually operating at a distinct disadvantage (1). In contrast, the ingestion of complex carbohydrates, or starches, has no effect on the immune system.

    Sugar triggers low-grade inflammation in the body and inflammation is also an immune suppressant.

    Nate Favini, medical lead at Forward (3), reported that it would be misleading to say that we fully understand the relationship between sugar and our immune system. “What we do know is that diabetes appears to be common in people confirmed to have COVID-19,” he noted. “This suggests that having higher levels of sugars in your blood could make it easier to contract COVID-19.”

    Studies have found that excessive amounts of sugar, or glucose, in the body can inhibit the absorption of Vitamin C (2). Vitamin C is extremely important for boosting the immune system and fighting off infections. In the 1970s, researchers established that Vitamin C has a similar structure to sugar and therefore can compete for absorption.

    As an antioxidant, it is the job of Vitamin C to neutralize free radicals. By consuming sugar with Vitamin C, you are introducing more free radicals that Vitamin C may sacrifice itself to neutralize instead of being available to support your immune system.

    For more information, check out our article on the best sugar alternatives.

     

    #2. Reduce Alcohol Consumption

    The Cleveland clinic reported that If you drink every day, or almost every day it can weaken the immune system and make the body more susceptible to infections, such as colds, flu or other illnesses more frequently than people who don’t drink. Many people have increased their alcohol consumption while being restricted to stay at home with social distancing protocols, which is not good for immunity!

    Alcohol alters the makeup of your gut microbiome, which is the home to trillions of microorganisms performing several crucial roles for your health, including supporting your immune system. It seems that drinking alcohol may also damage the immune cells that line the intestines, which serve as the first line of defense against bacteria and viruses. By damaging those cells in your intestines, it can make it easier for pathogens to cross into your bloodstream (4).

    Plus, excessive drinking reduces the number and function of three important kinds of cells in your immune system–macrophages, T and C cells. Macrophages are the first line of defense against disease. They gobble up anything that’s not supposed to be there, including cancerous cells, and they sound the alarm if pathogens are present. T cells are antibodies to specific pathogens. They are the reason vaccines work and why you can’t get chicken pox twice. Your T cells already know how to kill those specific kinds of viruses. B cells are white blood cells that secrete cytokines that attack bacteria. When B and T cells are suppressed, your immune system is less efficient at identifying and destroying invading pathogens.

     

    #3. Manage Stress

    Unfortunately, at this time, people have been losing jobs, are financially strained, trapped in a home or apartment with either no time for themselves or too much time to themselves, wondering if their businesses will last, or trying to juggle home schooling the kids with work.

    In short spurts, our stress hormone, cortisol, can boost immunity by limiting inflammation. But over time, your body can get used to having too much cortisol in your blood and this opens the door for more inflammation. This can weaken your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to viral infections and frequent illnesses.

    In addition, stress decreases the body’s lymphocytes — the white blood cells that help fight off infection. The lower your lymphocyte level, the more at risk you are for viruses.

    The brain and the immune system are in constant communication in this delicate balance that can be disrupted by any kind of physical or emotional stress. Some experts claim that stress is responsible for as much as 90% of all illnesses and diseases.

    For more information, please check out our article for nutrition strategies to help manage stress.

     

    #4. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

    The Mayo Clinic reported that studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.

    During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.

    How much sleep do you need to bolster your immune system? The optimal amount of sleep for most adults is 7.5-9 hours of good sleep each night, while teenagers need 9-10 hours of sleep, and school-aged children may need 10 or more hours of sleep per day.

    For more information check out or article on nutrition for better sleep

    #5. Not Eating Enough Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

    Our immune system relies on a number of nutrients to help it function properly and work at its optimal level. Key nutrients include vitamin C, iron, Vitamin D, folate, Vitamin A, selenium and zinc. It is difficult to intake adequate amounts of these nutrients from processed foods, but you will get them from fresh fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, many North Americans are not getting enough fruits and vegetables into heir diet, nor are they consuming enough variety.

    Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) indicate that approximately 70% of children aged four to eight years and 65% aged nine to 13 years do not consume the recommended minimum five servings of fruits and vegetables (FV) daily. Health Canada recommends a minimum of 7-8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day for adults, and this is rarely achieved.

    Unfortunately, with high stress, poor sleep, diseases and illnesses our body’s demand for nutrients becomes higher. This would only be compounded by an already compromised diet with processed foods, pizzas, and frozen dinners; consumption of sugar-laden foods and beverages; and limited intake of fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet. These societal dietary habits put us at huge risk of nutrient deficiencies, and subsequently a compromised immune system, which impacts our ability to help protect ourselves against viruses and infection.

    If you are struggling to get enough fruits and vegetables into your diet you can explore supplementing with a whole food supplement which contains 30 fruits and vegetables. Separate studies were conducted on healthcare professionals with direct patient contact, young law school students, an elderly population, and athletic men. The combined results of those studies show that a combination of orchard, vegetable and berry capsules, “Reduces the severity of upper respiratory challenges, reduces missed work days, and increases the number and activity of immune cells circulating in the body”. British Journal of Nutrition (2011) Journal of Nutrition (2007) Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2006) Journal of Nutrition (2006) Integrative Medicine (1999).

    To get your whole food supplements click here.

     

    We’re all doing our best right now to protect ourselves, our family, and our communities from illness. Reducing sugar consumption, limiting alcohol intake, practicing stress management techniques, getting adequate sleep, and ensuring an adequate intake of fresh fruits and vegetables are five more ways that you can help support your immune system!

     

    References

    1. Sanchez, A., et al. 1973 “Role of Sugars in Human Neutrophilic Phagocytosis,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 26:1180-1184 http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/26/11/1180.full.pdf+html (accessed July 27, 2015)
    2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16118484
    3. https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/sugar-weaken-immune-system_l_5e74ca2cc5b6f5b7c542a3be
    4. https://www.insider.com/does-alcohol-weaken-the-immune-system

       

       

       

       

      How To Avoid Unwanted Weight Gain During COVID-19

      How To Avoid Unwanted Weight Gain During COVID-19

      Supporting the Immune System Koru Nutrition

      Are you one of the many that are struggling with social isolation weight gain? We get it. You can’t get to the gym, find you are snacking throughout the day, and might be cracking open that bottle of wine when it’s only Tuesday at 3:00pm?

      These are unprecedented times, the likes of which we have not seen in our lifetime. People are losing jobs, struggling with managing work and home-schooling the kids, having either no alone time or too much time alone. Increased stress and unhealthy eating habits make your weight on your scales in your bathroom to continue to rise.

      At Koru Nutrition we want to offer some strategies to help navigate healthy eating patterns while you’re stuck at home.

       

      1. Intermittent fasting – Intermittent fasting is a great option during social isolation. In essence, intermittent fasting is restricting your eating window during the day. Some folks use a 12 hour window to eat, some stick to an 8 hour window, and some even limit eating to a 4 hour window. Intermittent fasting has been proven to be an effective and healthy way to lose weight. Research shows that it can lower insulin levels and increase growth hormone levels, which assists with fat loss and muscle gain, resulting in weight loss.  It also increases the release of the fat burning hormone norepinephrine (noradrenaline). Plus, short-term fasting may also increase your metabolic rate by 3.6–14%.

      The other great thing is that it can help you save time and money. Most people only eat twice a day while intermittent fasting (a brunch or lunch and dinner), so you will be cooking less often and most likely eating less food.

      Ideally you need to fast for 16 hours per day before you will start to see the results. Download a fasting app to your phone can help keep you on track. For more information check out our intermittent fasting article.

       

      1. Late night snacking has to go! This is not conducive to intermittent fasting but also doesn’t give your body the time to burn off the extra calories consumed after dinner or late at night. In fact, eating before bed is one of the first strategies we give people that want to gain weight. If you have a typical sleep/wake and work schedule, you’ll want to aim to finish dinner at around 6:00pm and fill up on herbal teas, water or sparkling water after that.
      1. Drink lots of water. Health Canada recommends 2.7 litres of water per day for women and 3.7 litres per day for men. Water helps to metabolize fat as well help you feel full. Often people mistake themselves as hungry when, in fact, they are thirsty. A mere 5% drop in hydration levels can cause 25-30% loss of energy, which might leave you prone to looking for something sweet to give you an energy burst. Mild dehydration can also cause your metabolism to slow down by 3%.

      You can keep a water bottle beside you when reading, watching TV, cooking or while working to help encourage regular drinking.

       

      1. Cut out the gluten – refined breads, pastas, baked goods, pizza and the like are void of nutrients and have a tendency to spike blood sugars. When blood sugars surge so too does insulin. Insulin is a hormone which is needed to help push glucose (sugar) from our blood into the cell where it can be used as energy. But if you have too much glucose too quickly to burn as energy, then the insulin will signal your body to package the excess and store it as fat. If you have unstable blood sugar levels you have 3x more difficulty losing weight. 

      Gluten is also inflammatory. Many individuals notice improvements, not just in weight loss, but in many areas of their health and wellness when they eliminate gluten, including mood, sleep, digestion, energy levels and reductions in pain.

       

      5. Eat Clean Whole Foods – Eating clean whole foods includes fruits, vegetables and sea vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, fish, grass fed meats, eggs, lentils and legumes.

      This is the most important step, but often the hardest to do. Whether you are juggling working at home with home-schooling your kids or you’re struggling with your mental health during this period of isolation, it may feel easier to just heat up a frozen pizza than to prepare a well-balanced meal from scratch. But, there are ways to help manage this!


      You can save time in in the kitchen and prepare in advance. You may opt to batch cook some one-pot meals like soups or stews. Or you could repurpose foods, for example, making a large chilli one night, then fajitas the next night with the leftovers. If you have one, use your crockpot so you can prep a healthy meal in the morning when you may have higher energy and a delicious meal is waiting for you in the evening.

       

      1. Drink Green Tea – There are so many health benefits to drinking green tea. A study published in the Journal of Obesity Research showed that habitual tea drinkers had an average of 19.6 less body fat, and also had slimmer waists, than people who didn’t drink tea regularly. The majority of these tea drinkers chose green tea.

      Green tea contains a type of flavonoid called EGCG, which has not only shown to help burn fat and reduce diet-induced obesity, but also help to keep the weight off afterwards (Obesity Research, June 2005). Plus, this is a great way to help increase your water intake! Simple, inexpensive, and delicious!

       

      We understand, these are difficult times. But, by incorporating some of these tips – intermittent fasting, ditching late-night snacking, staying well hydrated, cutting out gluten, eating clean whole foods, and drinking green tea – you’ll help ensure that you aren’t adding the additional challenge of unwanted weight gain to your metaphorical plate.

      Stay safe and stay healthy!

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      © 2020 Koru Nutrition Inc. All Rights Reserved.

      Koru Nutrition logo 2

      © 2020 Koru Nutrition Inc. All Rights Reserved.