This is a serious, scientific look at the ketogenic lifestyle with five great actionable tips.
Dr. Annette Bosworth’s life took a new trajectory when she used the science of the ketogenic diet to help her mother turn her cancer around. Dr. Bosworth, notably known as “Dr. Boz”, is not only certified to provide general practice services, but is also a recognized expert in nutrition, exercise, and mental conditioning programs. She is the founder of ECHO Kids, an initiative aimed at reducing childhood obesity and lowering rates of childhood diabetes.
Dave interviewed Dr. Boz about her methods, book, and the inspiring story of saving her mother from another debilitating round of chemo… and reversing her cancer growth within 4 weeks. Click below to take a listen, or keep reading for the highlights!
What brought Dr. Boz to the ketogenic lifestyle?
My mom was diagnosed with cancer in her blood cells around 15 years ago. Fast forward to three years ago and her cancer was pretty rotten. She had large tumors in her neck and her armpits. Our white blood cell count is about 6 to 10,000, but hers was 150,000- even during chemotherapy.
We measure this type of cancer by how quick it doubles. So if it doubles in five years, it isn’t too much of a problem. If it doubles in a year, we’re still okay. But her cancer was growing so fast- it was doubling every four weeks!
We were in the oncology unit, and right before the doctor walks in we knew the report was going to be bad. My mother said that if the doctor gives her that pink slip for chemotherapy again, she’s tapping out. She told me, “The clothes I want to wear at my funeral are on the top shelf in that closet in the basement”.
I started seeing articles about six months before that, and my patients made me aware of “the ketogenic diet”. At the same time, Navy SEALS brought me information about repairing the brain that I thought had to be fake. There’s no way this could be true. I’m sure I would have known about it if it was going to repair the brain as fast as it was.
So I was in the midst of studying that when my mom’s diagnosis came about and her choice to not take chemotherapy.
It was during that time that I studied how a brain injury could be repaired so quickly- if you have proven ketosis in the system. This information was also coupled with the subtext that cancer really loves a high glucose state.
What also got my attention was the lowered glucose levels, which can only happen with raised ketones. Several brain tumors have unbelievable responses to chemotherapy, specifically radiation. Ketones are the molecules that you make from fat.
As we’re on the way to schedule the chemotherapy, I looked at my mom and said, “Mom, do you trust me?” With tears in her eyes she says, “Of course I do. With my whole heart.” I said, “Let me show you what I would do. Give me six weeks.” She agreed, and we did not schedule the chemotherapy.
We were hardcore keto for six weeks. That was our step one. Not everybody needs to be that strict to get benefits from a ketogenic lifestyle. But if you have expectations that you’re going to stop seizures, for example, it is amazing how well it repairs the brain and decreases seizure incidents.
But they are also in that same category of a prescribed Ketogenic, a chemistry set if you would, that a cancer patient would be under. For the Ketogenic chemistry that has evidence behind cancer and seizure disorders, you can not be playing. You need to be checking your numbers and following your numbers with your physician.
Dr. Boz’ top five tips for the Ketogenic lifestyle.
#5 – Form a Tribe.
You are the average of the 5 people you hang out with. If you are changing a lifestyle, add support. Meet once a week. Use free tools like this PLAYLIST to help teach all of you how to stay the course.
The other little advice I give people if you’re starting a little support group is, don’t think you need to lift the weight of all the education. There are several good educators out there like me, like Dr. Ken Berry, other primary care physicians who have said there is no space in the exam room for me to teach all this.
This is going to take us time and you’re going to need a tribe. And by that tribe has everything to do with sustainability. So that’s number five.
***Watch Dr. Boz beginner’s guide for Keto.***
#4 – 20 total carbs per day.
That is a specific number for a reason. You’re a human body and if we want you to be in a Ketogenic state, that means you need 20 carbs or less. We are talking about a chemistry set that we really need your body to get used to. You have overeaten sugar for too long. If you have more than 20 carbs in a day, you can call it a low carb, but you can not call it a Ketogenic diet. It is not going to lead to Ketosis.
It is a chemistry set that we can reverse, but you can’t play games. That means most of the carbs is going to come from vegetables that are the cruciferous, like the Broccoli or Brussel sprouts. They’re not your mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, they’re not root vegetables.
The less of those you have the better. You should use your vegetables as a way to deliver fat to your gut. So Brussel sprouts in Bacon grease, that’s a good recipe. If you’re looking for the Ketogenic Diet, it is 75 to 80% fat. So as soon as you start getting super fancy with these foods, boom, you’re over 20 carbs.
#3 – Measure your Ketones.
Start with Urine test strips from the first few weeks. They are easy. Cheap. Urine Ketones (Peetones) show the patient if they are in or out of ketosis. This is critical for the first 3-4 weeks.
After your body adapts to burning fat instead of glucose, you will need to shift to a blood monitor. I recommend my patients use the FORACARE meter. This meter uses ketone strips or glucose strips to test both blood sources of energy. VERY VERY useful.
Tip: Put those little ketone strips in your pocket. If they’re out in the air for too long, they’re not good. So you’re gonna put ’em in your pocket. If you don’t use them by the end of the day, they’re no good. But that gives you the excuse that every time you use the bathroom you can pee on that stick and say you’re in Ketosis or not.
You cannot do this diet for a day and expect it to be better. We need to change the chemistry on a cellular level and that’s what this Ketogenic diet is really all about.
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#2 – Use the Science.
When I started on the Ketogenic diet, I was really resistant to recommend the Keto salts. People should do this the hardcore way. Just like we did stop eating so many carbs, you’ve got this transition that does take a a week or so to get into it. But after that, you would really do see an improvement in your chemistry. I have patients who have been diabetic for 30 years and telling them to cut their carbs.
There is so many changes mentally, socially, but also within their chemistry that are going to change in the next five days. I’ve had a few patients where I did this very diligently, where we cut their carbs down to 20. They’re doing great and I stopped five of their blood pressure medicines.
Let me show you the science. Let me wake up the metabolism specifically that of your Mitochondria, which is kind of a science-y word, but is really where your body makes energy. And if you’re a diabetic or you’ve been overweight for years, or you’ve got that old man or old Lady Syndrome where everything’s just slower. If we infuse those Ketone salts into your body and brain, your brain will function better.
Now, how much easier it was for them to get that carbohydrate down to less than 20 if you come to me and say, I would like to be on the Ketogenic Diet and you take in 200 to 300 carbohydrates a day, that crash course of decreasing your carbs like that, it ends up being quite a problem.
So as you learn about Ketosis, we want you to use those Ketogenic supplements for those first transition weeks to help you make a much easier process. And by adding that to your circulation, we know that your metabolism will change, that your chemistry will change.
You don’t have to have a prescription to do it, but I would recommend, especially if you’re over 50 or more than 20 pounds overweight, or you’ve had diabetes for a while, just let your chemistry get used to this before you cut those carbs to 20. And that’s really where I’ve seen the supplements be magical.
I didn’t have that tool the first year and a half that I was coaching people, and I lost a lot of patients. They find it too hard. And they are the ones who probably needed it the most.
#1 – Number one of the five top tips for Ketogenic lifestyle is…Educate yourself!
This is a powerful thing. If you look at the book that I wrote, ‘Any Way You Can’, the front cover has a picture of my mom before we started the Ketogenic Diet. The back cover has a picture of her when I published it, which was two years later, and she looks like she erased 15 years of her life.
That whole time I spent educating her on how can we reverse her age? How she can sip from that Fountain of Youth. And it turns out this isn’t a fad.
This isn’t something she’s going to do for a day or two. She is in this for the lifetime as are the people that I’m training and teaching in my clinic, in my circles of support. And I’ve done more stopping of prescriptions in the last three years than I have ever done in the 20 years that I’ve been a physician.
So now I’m at the equation where I stop more than I start. And that is a status symbol for me as a physician, that’s a sign that their health really is growing, it is this unlocking of a gift of health.
But it does require you to educate yourself. I mean, you can hurt yourself, especially if you’re in the throws of chronic illness, chronic blood pressure, chronic diabetes, at high risk of heart disease.
I now need you to learn a little bit about this diet. And I would contend that my master skill in life isn’t being a doctor. It’s being a teacher. I can say this because I wasn’t planning on writing a book.
Back then, I was writing little lessons for my 70 year old mom who couldn’t think very well cause she was really sick. So, I took these lessons to her one at a time to say, ‘here’s what we do next’. This is how we go to the next level and thanks be to God!
My husband kept saying, you should turn that into a book. I’m like, ‘I’m not a writer. That’s not what I do’. And by Golly, if you go to Amazon and look at the review for it, it’s got like five stars in over a thousand reviews. It’s a self published book that I just am so thankful that I was brave enough to push print, but it’s a great teaching tool.
You don’t have to have doctors telling you they have 20 minutes. They don’t have time to teach you all this, but you have to know it in order to be successful on this, this changed chemistry, and it will hit your brain.
I am overwhelmed with the amount of anti depressants that I’ve stopped since using the Ketogenic diet. And it comes back to those first few things I learned about the Diet, which is it repairs a brain faster than we’ve ever seen before.
The reason I stay on the Ketogenic diet is my brain health. I want to be as sharp as possible for as long as possible. And there is no better guarantee to that than to bathe my brain cells Ketones every day.
The Brain Health in Ketogenic Diet…
These four letters. B-D-N-F is a little protein that’s in your brain called brain drive neurotrophic factor. And what all that means is there is actually a protein in your brain that predicts whether or not your brain is healing or destroying. BDNF was just coming into the research when I was in medical school. So that’s over 20 years ago.
Now, I was in medical school taking a test that said the brain cells you have, that’s all you get. We cannot regenerate brain cells. But the new research was saying if this BDNF is high enough, you can actually regrow of the Hypocampus and a couple other areas of the brain.
We tie off the artery to the brain and we can see that the mice with high BDNF lost one third less of their brain despite having no oxygen to the brain. That’s a remarkable finding. If you want to have Alzheimer’s, take that BDNF to go down.
So what comes next? To get the BDNF high. Although electric shock therapy actually raises it quite robustly, but you sacrifice a memory when you do that. But it turns out that there are several studies that have shown the longer that they went into a Ketogenic state the higher the BDNF went.
If you were in the 1960s and you are one of the kids who had seizures, your brain was going to be filled with defects. You are going to die at a much younger age and you’re not going to be able to live on your own after the age of maybe 50 or 60. Childhood seizures were awful and they put you on Depakote or lithium.
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And if you were unlucky enough that those drugs didn’t work, they would admit you and your whole family to the hospital and put you on a Ketogenic diet.
People say you can’t stay on that Ketogenic diet. But if you to talk to those kids who are the seizure kids in the 60s because every time they started to eat a little bit too many carbs they would have a seizure. So they were very compliant.
When you look at the few autopsies we have from these Ketosis seizure kids from the 60s, I have brain envy. Their brains are pristine under the microscope. We can not see hardly any neurofibrillary tangles, which are the markers of all Alzheimers, of Parkinson’s, of an aging brain that can’t sort memory very well. We thought that just happened in everyone. How is it that the brains of these very compliant Ketogenic patients have no neuro fibral tangles?
Not only that, they have the lowest number of cancer cells found in any autopsy that I’ve seen yet. And people may not know this, but if you take your blood and you look at it, you have cancer cells, your body is fighting those cancer cells and trying to stay ahead of any cancer that takes over. But if you want zero cancer cells, it turns out one of the best things you can do is have low inflammation.
And that is one of the things that it benefits from a high Ketogenic state is the inflammation is very low and that brain repair tends to be faster than anything we’ve seen. You’re ending up in the grave at the end of your life with one of the healthiest brains we’ve ever seen in Autopsy. Well, I want that problem.
If you look at some of the things I teach my patients, you can calculate the chances of you being an autophagy or not. So autophagy is that Nobel Prize in medicine in 2016 for how can we recycle cells.
So once a week I will fast to the point where I get my Dr. Boz ratio of 40 or less, which is a glucose divided by a Ketone. These are not just random numbers, they are from the studies looking at a brain cancers and that autophagy study, where if I can get that Dr. Boz ratio about a low enough glucose, and a high enough Ketone that I get a 40, then I usually have a pretty good meal.
My usual ketogenic foods, especially for breakfast is cheese, scrambled eggs and pepperoni, which is a high fat meat. Or, I really like the sausage or the eggs. Again, a high fat meat. There’s nothing better than a mom who makes a healthy breakfast food for their kids that they enjoy eating. You can have a side of coffee maybe with some heavy whipping cream.
About my book….
Skill set is where I believe you use the talents that God gives you in whatever chapter life you’ve got. And I have been rewarded again and again for my skill at teaching. And I can’t believe that this transformed into a book so well.
But I really talked about my skepticism about the Diet at the beginning. I talk about the navy seals. I talk about the brains and how I’ve been duped by big Pharma of what they’re not showing you.
But there’s a few places where I really believe what they’re saying, and one of them is dead people. The autopsy studies give me this great, powerful evidence-based result, you can’t really argue with that. They’re dead and there’s no way they’re going to manipulate what they’re telling you.
I just feel confident that I can believe this information because it sounds so sensational. And when you look at the core reason why, it really does translate into what happened to my mom and what I teach about in the book.
We are really removing inflammation from a cellular level. And I go through that in the book and it’s so powerful that it sounds like a panacea.
Everything that has inflammation is better if you’re on the Ketogenic diet. I’m a chronic disease management kind of doctor. This is what my clinic does. And if I could remove inflammation for the last 20 years, they wouldn’t have memory problems. They wouldn’t have cancer, they wouldn’t have autoimmune problems, they wouldn’t need surgeries like they do, or at least that they think they do.
I think that’s one of the biggest gifts you can give the baby boomer generation is to reverse all of this over medicalized versions of the folks that are in their fifties, sixties and seventies. It’s sinful!
*** Did you know that Dr. Boz book “Anyway You Can” has over 1000 five star reviews? People love it! Check it out here. ***
Other Dr. Boz resources:
Dr. Boz operates a private practice, Meaningful Medicine. She is the author of “Anyway You Can”, available on Audible and Amazon, and has an excellent Youtube channel.
AUDIOBOOK: ANYWAY YOU CAN: A Beginner’s Guide to Ketones For Life
FREE E-BOOK: Fat Can Save Your Life: 50 Facts about Fat
YOU TUBE: Dr. Boz [Annette Bosworth, MD]
FACEBOOK: Dr.Annette Bosworth