A 16-Day Water Fast with My Dog Sasha

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My Dog Sasha had been unusually tired for many months, so I decided to take him to a holistic veterinarian and have some blood work done. He does have fair sever hip dysplasia and the fatigue could simply be due to the pain and discomfort from this chronic condition, but I wanted to be sure it was nothing more serious than this. The first set of blood work did have a few worrisome abnomalities: 1) elevated ALP liver enzymes; 2) elevated eosinophils; 3) moderate levels of acanthocytes. There are a number of reasons that any or all of these could be elevated, some serious, others not so serious.

Acanthocytes are abnormal red blood cells that look like they have little spikes sticking out of them. They are often found in the presence of a type of cancer known as hemangiosarcoma to which German Shepherds are susceptible. Therefore, Sasha’s veterinarian recommended doing an ultra sound of his abdomen to see if there were any growths visible. Fortunately, the ultra sound was clear. All of his organs looked good except for his spleen which was enlarged. Apparently, it is common for German Shepherds to have enlarged spleens, but since hemangiosarcomas frequently begin in the spleen this did not instill confidence. I have fed Sasha a Bones and Raw Food diet (a.k.a. BARF diet a la Dr. Ian Billinghurst) for his entire life, but I have  fed him a lot of commercial grade chicken for economic reasons. I am now trying to feed him better quality meats, with emphasis on beef and lamb.

Sasha’s veterinarian encouraged me to keep a close eye on the acanthocytes because hemangosarcomas can sneak up on you. She recommened doing blood work again in 3 months. However, I decided to take a more proactive approach and do a water-only fast to give Sasha’s body a chance to do some internal house cleaning. I have done many fasts over the past 25 years, and I have experience beneficial results from all of them. One of the best books on the subject is by Dr. Jack Goldstein, a physician who almost died from severe ulcerative colitis. He completely regained his health through a series of very long water-only fasts. His book is now out of print, but it can be down-loaded for free through the Soil and Health Library here: Triumph Over Disease by Fasting and Natural Diet.

Because I love my dog more than anything else in this world, I was not about to eat in front of him while asking him to fast. Therefore, I did the fast with him. My orginal goal was to go for 21 days, but my own waning strength made it necessary for me to end the fast sooner than I would have liked. Sasha did absolutely awesome on the fast and could have easily made it 21 days. He was tired and slept a lot during the first 10 days, but then his energy began to improve. During the last 6 days of the fast, he actually got stronger. On the last day of the fast, I took him in for new blood work and the result were little short of remarkable. The ALP and eosinophils both fell by more than half, and the acanthocytes were completely eliminated. Sasha’s veterinarian said that she has never seen ALP fall that dramatically in any of her canine patients before. Needless to say, she was VERY impressed.

First set of blood work BEFORE the fast:

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Second set of blood work AFTER the fast:

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Oddly enough, while I was in the process of doing this fast with Sasha, I posted about it on Facebook. Much to my surprise, a number of my so-called “friends” decided that I was committing an egregous act of animal cruelty and called both Animal Control and the Police to complain about it. An Animal Control officer actually came out to check on Sasha, but the minute he saw him, he said, “Clearly, he is fine. Please take your post off Facebook because we are being innundated with calls to both Animal Control and the Police about this.” I told him what I was doing, that it was a therapeutic intervention for a health issue, and that I was working with a local veterinarian. He was an intelligent man and could see that Sasha was being well cared for. Anyways, another interesting experience…LOL… one the one hand, I am glad to know that they take complaints like that seriously, but on the other hand, I am quite taken aback by the fact that some people actually think I would do anything to hurt my dog. Fortunately, the results speak for themselves.

If you are interested in learning more about fasting in the context of a Zero Carb diet, please join us in the Facebook group Principia Lenta.

 

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Healing Brain Cancer with a Zero Carb Ketogenic Diet by Andrew Scarborough

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May 2015

Two and a half years ago, at the age of 27, I was working as a personal trainer and was physically very active. However, I was forced to stop working towards the end of 2012 because I was experiencing debilitating fatigue and severe migraine headaches. The doctors I consulted told me that my symptoms were most likely due to excessive stress.

At that time, I was eating a high carbohydrate, high protein, low fat diet, and I had a very low percentage of body fat. I ran and lifted weights, and for all intents and purposes appeared to be in great shape. I felt like I was doing everything right for good health based on what I had studied while working on my undergraduate degree in Sports Nutrition a few years earlier. But looking back, I probably wasn’t all that healthy internally.

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November 2011

After quitting my job, I decided to study for a Master’s degree in Nutritional Therapy. As I got deeper into my course work,I was shocked to discover that everything I had learned during my undergraduate studies was either false, misleading, or outdated information.

However, the new information was fascinating and I was enjoying it. This is where I first learned about the Ketogenic diet to manage drug resistant epilepsy and potentially cancer. My lecturer at the time told me that she followed a Paleo diet and I was intrigued and a little skeptical at the same time.

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Andrew with his nephew – October 2012

Five months later in February 2013, following a workout at the gym, I had what I now know was a partial seizure. I became very confused, had a metallic taste on my tongue, was very unsteady, stared blankly into space, and lost the ability to speak. It was scary and confusing, but – as my speech came back a few minutes later – I ignored it and carried on with my day.

There was also a particularly nasty strain of flu going around at the time, and I thought perhaps my weird symptoms were somehow related to that. Additionally, I was traveling around London which was stressful, but – being the stubborn person that I am – I simply soldiered on.

In the weeks that followed, I gradually became more and more fatigued, my balance was getting worse, my ability to concentrate was declining, and I was struggling to find words. I was also starting to get crushing headaches, but I assumed they were just one of the symptoms of this terrible strain of flu!

I finally started taking pain medication for headaches which was a big decision for me because I hate taking drugs. I was also experiencing some weakness around my right eye, so I decided that maybe I need glasses. I went for an exam and a prescription, but – after getting the glasses – the headaches continued unabated and were becoming more and more debilitating. Then, after suffering from serious dizzy spells all day, I rushed to get a train ride home from London.

As I sat down, the crushing headache was becoming unbearable. I felt nauseous and extremely dizzy. I began to have a pins-and-needles sensation in my mouth and on the right side of my face, along with that weird metallic taste I had experienced before, so I quickly scampered to the less busy side of the train clutching my face in agony.

My head felt like it was burning on one side and my right hand started to shake. I made strange yelping noises that I couldn’t control, and my whole body started to convulse. I felt like my head was being crushed until – suddenly – it felt like someone hit me as hard as they could on the side of my head with a hammer. Then, it felt like someone was turning a water tap on inside of my head, and I fell unconscious on the train.

When I finally came around, I was extremely confused and had a lot of injuries. I was immediately rushed to the nearest hospital. Eventually, the doctors determined that I had suffered a brain hemorrhage caused by a highly vascular malignant brain tumor located between the speech and movement areas of my brain. I was misdiagnosed a few times before I received the actual pathology report because there was just so much blood in my brain.

Six weeks after my operation on May 15th, I was told I had an Anaplastic Astrocytoma. It was treatable, but not curable. In other words, they could slow the progress, but ultimately it would prove to be terminal. I reluctantly went ahead with the standard radiotherapy and chemotherapy that my doctors recommended, but I felt extremely depressed.

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May 2013

Based on my previous studies regarding the Ketogenic diet, I began to gradually reduce my carbohydrate intake while simultaneously increasing fat. I read as much information about the Ketogenic diet as my current condition would allow. I was still having seizures on a regular basis, some of which were horrendous and quite traumatic, and I was on a number of strong pain and anti-convulsant medications.

The side effects of these medications were horrible. I asked my oncologist if a Ketogenic diet could help reduce the need for these medications, but I was told that diet would have little-to-no effect. He also stated in a very matter-of-fact way that it would not be a good idea to remove carbohydrates from my diet while undergoing conventional medical treatment because the brain needed glucose to function.

I stopped the chemotherapy and radiation treatments after a few months because they were making me too sick and were not helping to eliminate the cancer. (Sadly, everyone I know who continued with the conventional treatments for this type of cancer is no longer alive.) After all the research I had done, I decided that a ketogenic diet was crucial to slowing the progression of this cancer and was my best hope. Therefore, I adopted a very high fat, very low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet. It included low sugar fruits and vegetables, lots of heavy whipping cream, coconut milk and oil, nuts, cheese, avocados, etc. All the typical high fat, keto-friendly foods.

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November 2013

I was getting decent numbers on my glucose/ketone meter, but I felt absolutely awful. My migraines and seizure activity got so bad that I was bed bound for months and I became very depressed. Eventually, I went to see my General Practitioner, and he prescribed steroids because my arteries had become severely inflamed. I never took the steroids (prednisolone), but decided to start keeping track of exactly when the symptoms became worse.

I decided to lower my carbohydrate intake further and the vascular inflammation improved without drugs. Esmee had read one of my blog posts about my symptoms and suggested that I might be reacting to the salicylates present in coconut, avocado, nuts, and other plant foods I was eating. So, I decided to eliminate them as a trial and see how I felt. The difference was astonishing. The headaches and seizure activity reduced almost immediately. The saddened me because these foods were the primary staples of my Ketogenic diet and I wasn’t yet sure how to replace them.

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July 2014

After cutting these foods out, however, and utilizing more animal fats like butter and tallow instead, I was able to gradually reduce the anti-convulsant and pain medications I was taking. Meanwhile, my brain scans continued to show improvement which both surprised and encouraged me.

I began to read more academic journals, text books about nutrition, and studied Neurology (because my neurologists were unhelpful) in more depth. I scrutinized my diet some more and realized I could get all the nutrients I needed strictly from the animal kingdom if I included bone broth and organ meats. I then took things to a whole new level by adding insects to my diet.

The diet I designed for myself – based on everything I had read and learned – made a lot of sense nutritionally, and I was amazed at how well it worked on a practical level. I was able to completely eliminate my medications, and I started to feel better and better.

I do take some supplemental vitamin D3 (I have photo-sensitivity and cannot be in the sun for long), and a good quality natural sea or rock salt. I also use some MCT oil which – unlike coconut milk and oil – does not cause migraines or seizures in my brain. I suspect that the salicylates are removed during processing, and this is why it does not bother me.

Of all the different Ketogenic diets I have tried over the past two years, the Zero Carb “Carnivorous” Ketogenic diet is the only one that has given me near complete symptom relief. I am doing things in an unorthodox way, but I firmly believe that this type of Ketogenic diet is the most efficacious for brain cancer management and improved seizure control. Except for some mild fatigue, I feel better than I have felt since this whole experience began.

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May 2015

My current diet is 85% fat, 15% protein. I have 70-75 gms of protein per day, and over 200 gms of fat. The only real difference between the recommended Ketogenic diet and what am doing is that I am eating only foods that come from the Animal Kingdom. I do not include any plant foods or the oils derived from plant foods. I am still very careful about my macronutrient ratios (protein/fat), but counting carbohydrates is no longer an issue for me since I eliminated all plant foods. The only beverage I drink is water or bone broth.

Each day, I eat 2-4 eggs, liver, lambs brain (from a local sheep rancher who raises his animals with care) or sardines/mackerel, bone broth, crickets or other insects like wax worms (either whole or as a flour) mixed with eggs, herbs and animal fat cooked in a frying pan or in the oven, and bacon or red meat with cheddar cheese. I also rotate in a variety of other organ meats like sweet breads. Sometimes I drink heavy whipping cream on its own if I’m on holiday because it’s an easy way to get the fat, but it tends to make me sleepy so I don’t do that very often! Basically, I’m experimenting with new foods all the time and continually learning and expanding my options.

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Sheep’s Brain

 

I have also been doing regular short intermittent fasts over the past 2 years, but – now that I am off all of the medications – I feel even more benefit from these fasts. The euphoria and energy I experience is incredible on my fasting days.

I consistently aim for 3-5 mmol/L of blood ketones, 3-4 mmol/L for of blood glucose. Without much effort both my blood ketones and glucose numbers are consistently in the optimal therapeutic range. I can improve both numbers even more with mild exercise, which I am once again able to do and is – in itself – an incredible thing for me.

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May 2015

My most recent brain scans taken earlier this month (May 2015) show no disease and even the scar tissue is healing. I have a new oncologist – Dr. Kevin O’Neil – that I found through a Ketogenic diet conference last year who is completely supportive of the approach I am taking to treat my cancer and rebuild my health. He is one of the few oncologists who supports metabolic diet therapy for cancer management, and I am blessed to have him on my team.

In fact, he is so impressed with my results that he has offered me an opportunity to work and study at Charing Cross Hospital and Imperial College London to push forward the research on this type of metabolic diet therapy.

I would like to express my deep and sincere appreciation to Thomas Seyfried, Dominic D’Agostino, Adrienne Scheck, and many other scientific pioneers who are conducting studies and carrying out research on the therapeutic benefits of a Ketogenic diet, as well as to the Non-Profits groups The Charlie Foundation and Matthew’s Friends. I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet with these amazing people and organizations in person, and they have all been enormously helpful to me on my journey back to Well-Being.

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December 2015

To read an update and watch an interview with Andrew, please go to Dr. Jeffry Gerber’s page:

http://denversdietdoctor.com/ancestral-ketogenic-diets-and-brain-cancer-the-scarborough-protocol/

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Please visit my Testimonials page to read the stories of others following a Zero Carb diet.

If you are interested in meeting others who practice an All-Meat diet, please feel free to join us in the Facebook group Principia Carnivora for support.