We all know someone who has experienced hearing the words, “You have cancer.” According to the CDC, for every 100,000 people, there are 436 new cancer cases and 156 died due to cancer. It is the second leading cause of death in the US. One of every four deaths in the US is due to cancer. What is one of the potential solutions to this growing disease? Let’s discuss – Intermittent Fasting.
Can intermittent fasting be a new way to help prevent this disease? Most of us already know that a balanced and healthy lifestyle is the first step to help prevent cancer. Activities include frequent exercise, nutritious food choices, keeping a healthy weight, alcohol in moderation and avoiding tobacco. New research suggests that what has been a religious practice, and a very restrictive dieting program, can potentially help prevent and treat this deadly disease.
Continuous research is being done supporting the role of fasting on cancer treatment and prevention. Calorie restriction is able to reduce and delay cancer incidence, and inhibits tumor progression and metastasis. Fasting can kill cancer cells, boost the immune system, and improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
What is Fasting?
It is voluntarily going without food for varying lengths of time. Specifically, intermittent fasting is a complete avoidance of calorie intake for 16-18 hours daily or alternating a fasting day with a normal energy intake day. The theory is that it will slow your metabolism.
Pro's of Intermittent Fasting
Con's of Intermittent Fasting
- Weight loss
- Reduces inflammation
- Improves biometric markers
- Can aid in the growth of new nerve cells
- Slow aging
Intermittent Fasting... and Cancer?
Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Fasting means not eating for lengths of time, right? When there is more food available in the body, the cells become less sensitive to insulin. So, you are probably thinking “what does that mean?” Insulin resistance means that cells do not respond to insulin signals, leading to more glucose in the blood and a higher fat storage. When our body is fasting, it tries to conserve as much energy as possible so the cells become more sensitive to insulin, can remove glucose from blood and there is less fat stored. Simple answer: when there is more sensitivity to insulin, cancer cells have a harder time developing or growing.
Reverses Effects of Chronic Conditions
Certain conditions like obesity and type 2 diabetes have been identified as risk factors for cancer. When affected by these conditions, the risk for multiple times of cancers is higher, and there is a lower chance of survival. Fasting has been proven to increase weight loss. This reduces obesity rates and diabetes which can reduce the risk of developing cancer.
Can Improve Quality of Life During Chemotherapy
Fasting improves people’s responses to chemotherapy because it promotes cellular regeneration; protects blood against harmful effects of chemotherapy; reduces side effects from chemotherapy. Patients who were fasting during chemotherapy also reported higher energy levels and a higher tolerance.
What Should You Eat?
Focus on nutrient density by selecting wholesome foods that provide you energy, nutrients and fill your belly. Mix up your veggie choices to get a variety of vitamins and minerals. Let’s not forget about the importance of protein! Foods with protein will keep you full, which is important for the days where you are fasting. Pay close attention to low calorie foods that create high volume- on both your plate and in your belly!
Do you want more information on this type of diet or an example of what a fasting meal plan looks like? We provide counseling and you may qualify for free sessions. Email B.Komplete at email@example.com for more information and to see if you quality for our free in-network counseling.
Researched and written by Alexa Clark, Dietetic Intern