How intermittent fasting could help take cancer down

Treating cancer is no longer just about surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. More and more experts are agreeing that a comprehensive cancer treatment regimen has to take diet and nutrition into account.

According to research, nutritional habits form the basis for many of the most common types of cancerous tumors, particularly gastrointestinal and hormone-dependent breast or prostate. One study has even found a concrete molecular link between a diet of animal products and cancer, especially colorectal cancer.

Research has shown that a “rainbow diet” centered around a variety of fruits and vegetables has the power to both prevent many types of cancer and to slow or stop existing cancer from spreading. Consuming different types of colorful produce is the best way to ensure you’re getting a full range of cancer-fighting nutrients in your diet, including anthocyanins and curcumin.

But what you’re eating is only half the battle. It turns out that when and how often you eat may be just as important when it comes to fighting cancer…

The anticancer potential of intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is one strategy researchers are closely examining for its potential to help fight cancer.

One way of intermittent fasting is to consume food only within a prescribed window of time and refrain from taking in calories outside that window. For instance, you would only take in any calorie-containing food and drink over a set 8-hour period and fast during the remaining 16 hours of the day.

A pattern of completely fasting one day and eating normally the next can also be considered intermittent fasting.

“We have been studying strategies that mimic fasting to fight cancer for years, with good results; we are now moving to the phase where oncologists are beginning to consider its use in combination with standard therapies,” says Valter Longo of the Institute of Molecular Oncology in Italy and the University of Southern California.

Longo advocates the use of intermittent fasting in his book The Longevity Diet to both prevent disease and supplement cancer therapies.

“The interesting thing is that it seems to work with very different cancers and in combination with different therapies,” he says. “So it looks like a very promising approach.”

How could intermittent fasting fight cancer?

Tumor cells are continuously functioning; they never stop their cycle of division and proliferation. Healthy cells, on the other hand, stop all division processes when their energy supply is cut off, as it is by intermittent fasting.

The theory is that if chemotherapy is given when the patient is fasting, it will mainly kill off tumor cells since it’s primarily aimed at cells that are proliferating. It may even be possible to increase the dose in tandem with intermittent fasting.

Research shows there could be other mechanisms behind intermittent fasting’s cancer-fighting potential.

A study in mice found that intermittent fasting inhibits a particular liver protein that acts as a chief regulator of metabolic processes. This results in reduced inflammation and improvements in fat metabolism and blood sugar levels, all of which can prevent metabolic disease and reduce your risk of developing other diseases like cancer.

In another study that included cancer patients with various types of cancer, intermittent fasting lowered blood insulin levels by 50 percent and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) levels by 30 percent. According to researchers, high levels of blood glucose and insulin have been linked with a higher risk of several cancers, including breast cancer. IGF-1 is a hormone that supports cell growth and development, including cancer cells.

Intermittent fasting also helps head off obesity, which is a proven cancer risk.

Double up for full protection

If you really want to supercharge your body’s protection against cancer, try combining a plant-heavy “rainbow” diet like the Mediterranean diet with an intermittent fasting regimen. To make your transition away from animal products easier, you can start by limiting your meat-based meals to once or twice a week. Or you can replace the meat in your meals with heart-healthy omega-3-rich fish.

A total fast every other day may sound too extreme. If that’s the case, instead try following a time-restricted eating schedule that allows you to eat within an 8- to 10-hour window every day. This sort of eating schedule has been found to lower blood pressure, LDL cholesterol and high blood sugar levels. It also can result in weight loss and reduced calorie intake.

A fast mimicking diet (FMD) is also a healthy option. You can read more about that here and find fast mimicking diet plans. FMD boxed meals are even a thing you can have delivered to your home, from companies like ProLon, to make things even easier.

Editor’s note: Discover how to live a cancer prevention lifestyle — using foods, vitamins, minerals and herbs — as well as little-known therapies allowed in other countries but denied to you by American mainstream medicine. Click here to discover Surviving Cancer! A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding the Causes, Treatments and Big Business Behind Medicine’s Most Frightening Diagnosis!

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Carolyn Gretton

By Carolyn Gretton

Carolyn Gretton is a freelance writer based in New Haven, CT who specializes in all aspects of health and wellness and is passionate about discovering the latest health breakthroughs and sharing them with others. She has worked with a wide range of companies in the alternative health space and has written for online and print publications like Dow Jones Newswires and the Philadelphia Inquirer.