Is Caloric Restriction During Chemo a Good Option?
Don’t consider this medical advice, but do discuss it with your doctor. This info is resonating across the oncology world; it’s getting harder to deny that many cancer patients can benefit from intermittent fasting.
Chemotherapy can induce inflammation and breed resistance to therapy. Research 1 is now showing that calorie restriction combined with chemotherapy not only slowed tumor growth but tumor regrowth was delayed.
Is this for everyone? No. If you are struggling eating enough to prevent cataxia, then this would not be appropriate. If you find you are becoming intolerant to certain foods, have digestive upsets, have lost some taste or are craving the “unhealthy” sugary foods, then this may be an option.
Inflammation can create gut health issues that will prevent your body from breaking down and absorbing the essential nutrients your body craves right now. Intermittent fasting gives the “gut” a chance to do repair and maintenance when it’s not exposed to a constant onslaught of food coming down the digestive tract.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is nothing more than shortening your “feeding” window. Most of us eat a dinner somewhere between 5-7pm then do not eat again until 6,7,8 am. If you were to do the 7-7 eating you would be without food for twelve hours. Intermittent fasting stretches that window out to approximately 14-16 hours. Eating dinner at 6pm then not eating again until 8, 9 or 10am is an example of a shortened feeding window.
It’s important that the foods we do eat during that window are nutrient dense, low in toxins and easy to digest. This would be organic fruits, vegetables and clean proteins. This way when the body gets ready to do it’s repair and maintenance it has the tools it needs to do the job.\
A step beyond Intermittent fasting is full fasting for 24 to 48 hours. Again, the research in this area and practical application that we are seeing with cancer patients, is very encouraging.
I recently worked with a gentleman who was going through chemotherapy for colon cancer. He and I had talked about him fasting 24 hours prior to his treatments to see if it helped with the side effects. He decided to give it a try and reported back that he noticed a significant difference in his nausea, digestive upset and energy levels and chose to continue through the rest of his treatments.
Ten oncologists allowed their patients, suffering from malignancies ranging from stage II breast cancer to stage IV esophageal, prostate and lung malignancies to undergo a 48–140 hours pre-chemotherapy and a 5–56 hours post chemotherapy water-only fast. The six patients who received chemotherapy with fasting reported a reduction in fatigue, weakness and gastrointestinal side effects while fasting. 2
We are just now learning the powerful benefits of fasting but it has been a practice in ancient civilizations for thousands of years. Dr. Jason Fung has been an early adopter of Intermittent and full fasting and has many books and YouTube videos that help you understand the full benefits of this ancient tradition.
As always, check with your doctor, share these research papers and make an informed decision if this would be a benefit to you during your cancer journey.
- Fung, Jason, Moore, Jimmy “The Complete Guide to Fasting, Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate Day and Extended Fasting” , 2016, Victory Belt Publishing
About the Author: Chris McKee
Chris McKee is a Certified Nutritionist and Certified Diet Counselor with over 30 years of experience in whole-food cooking, healthy lifestyle coaching, individual nutritional counseling and speaking to 1,000’s of people about the role of good nutrition in preventing disease.
Chris is also a Certified Nutragenomix practitioner and this allows her to look deep into your genetic profile and personalize your nutrition program based on your unique genetic fingerprint.
She runs on-line courses including her 10 Day Clean Eating Challenge, 21 Days Prepping for the Keto Diet as well as her Hope 4 Cancer Recovery program.
Chris and her husband Ed love to travel, hence the name “The Nomadic Nutritionist”. She is a grandmother of four and a great-grandma of two! She loves to cook, explore new food finds, hike and fish.
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