Hippocrates said “All disease begins in the gut.”

We all admire Hippocrates and his wisdom but this quote seems at best a mild exaggeration.  Can ALL disease really begin in the gut?  It wouldn’t seem so, but the more we learn about our intestinal microbiome the more we’ve come to recognize its’ importance to our overall health.  More and more of our modern diseases present with some imbalance of intestinal flora and/or compromised intestinal lining.

Recent developments linking cancer-promoting DNA damage to mitochondrial stress supply a potential mechanism.  It is already well-known that mitochondrial damage leads to aging and cell death.  Oxidative stress damages the mitochondria.  Oxidative stress is triggered by environmental factors including what we eat.  Through this mechanism cell failure and thereby organ and systemic failure throughout our body can be explained by poor nutritional choices, choices that hurt rather than heal mitochondrial function.

Can better mitochondrial health protect us from cancer?

William Li talks about combating cancer with anti-angiogenesis

While he does discuss starving cancer cells by cutting off their sugar supply he fails to take the next logical step of cutting off that sugar supply at the point of entry: the mouth.  He leaves unanswered and unspoken the compelling question: “Can we starve cancer by cutting out sugar from our diet?”

Luckily I am not the only one wondering about this and researchers are already exploring the potential of ketogenic diets in preventing and treating cancer.


But it’s not just cancers.  Dr. Terry Wahls in her talk “Minding Your Mitochondria” discusses combating MS with nutritional interventions that look very similar to our ketogenic prescription.

Everywhere I look I am seeing ketogenic diets being employed to combat various lifestyle diseases and used in optimizing the performance of elite athletes such as world class Iron Men and the Los Angeles Lakers.

I am no doctor, I am a CrossFit Coach.  It is not my role to combat and prevent disease.  My job is to improve your health and fitness.  My field is performance.  And can you guess what type of nutritional regimen yields the greatest weight loss, muscle development and performance?  At Vancouver CrossFit gyms and CrossFit gyms around the world we have found that increasing dietary fat and sharply reducing carbohydrates produces the best results for our athletes.
vancouver crossfit gym dunbar
The idea of mitochondrial health supports CrossFit’s hypothetical pyramid of athletic development.  Molecular health (nutrition) is at the base of it all.  Fail to build a strong foundation here and you can expect your performances to suffer at every level above.

Your enemies to performance include: bread, pasta, noodles, rice, grains, cereals, oats, legumes, corn, potatoes, sugar in every form, all the desserts you love, fruit juices, alcohol (yes, even wine) and pretty much everything you love.

You won’t want to believe me, you will want to find a work-around, a way to eat your dessert and call it healthy.  A way to rationalize what you call “moderation” and critique nutritional approaches that cause you dismay by labeling them “extreme”.  You may be able to fool yourself and even some of your friends but you can’t fool your body.  Results don’t lie.  If you aren’t getting the results you desire, something isn’t working.

Damaged mitochondria = impaired cell health = poor recovery = eventual injury.  It’s simple and inescapable.

I know, I am a big kill joy.  I’m not much fun at parties either.