When there’s plenty of information available online concerning diet and cancer, it can become difficult to separate myths from facts. Trendy diets are one such category that seems to elude everyone. Alkaline Diet for Cancer Treatment is recommended by experts. A pervasive theory about low-acid and high-alkaline food being able to fight and prevent cancer symptoms persists today. Is there any truth in this argument?
Alkaline Diet at a glance
The Alkaline Diet theory states that specific foods can affect the body’s acid levels, better known as pH. Some dieticians believe that since an Alkaline Diet can alter the body’s pH levels, it can improve your health, help in weight loss, or even aid in preventing cancer.
What is the relation between the Alkaline Diet and cancer treatment?
The theory’s premise is that cancer cells grow in an acidic (low pH) but not in an alkaline environment (high pH). Therefore, fruits and vegetables containing alkaline but not acidic properties will raise the body’s pH levels and make it more alkaline. This alkaline environment discourages cancer growth.
Why is the Alkaline Diet theory questionable?
Let’s scroll down and find out why this theory isn’t entirely sound.
- Many oncologists comment that while maintaining a low-acidic diet may curb the growth of cancer cells and keep cancer symptoms at bay, it has nothing to do with the body’s pH levels. You can’t alter your blood pH. Regardless of your diet, your kidneys and lungs keep your blood pH in check.
- The average blood pH ranges between 7.35 and 7.45 for most people. The body’s pH system is a stringent one. Switching your diet won’t alter the blood pH, but you may find changes in the pH of your saliva or urine, as these are waste products. Dietary factors can also affect the pH of saliva and urine. Hence, what you choose to eat, and what you decide not to eat has little or no effect on your blood pH.
Naturopathic oncologist Neil McKinney, ND, states: An alkalizing diet is good for cancer patients, but why it works well has very little to do with pH. Extreme pH therapies are not recommended. Thus, eating these types of foods can be beneficial, even though the theoretical basis of the diet is questioned.
However, some credible integrative oncology clinicians say this diet may have some validity. According to naturopathic oncologist Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO, acidosis is associated with impaired immunity, reduced glutathione and insulin sensitivity. She points to growing evidence that reducing acidosis may provide benefits and that an alkaline diet doesn’t need to be extreme to be helpful.
Roots of the Alkaline theory
As with most dietary theories spanning the internet, the alkaline approach took birth from a kernel of truth.
- Early laboratory experiments implied that cancer cells would likely thrive in an acidic environment. Research proves that owing to a cancer tumor’s limitations, and high metabolism in blood flow, the microenvironment surrounding the tumor turns slightly more acidic. It further adds that cancer cells produce lactic acid during the Cori cycle (a metabolic process).
- It is through the Warburg effect that cancer cells metabolize, and these cells have the potential to make the surrounding environment of the cancer tumors acidic.
An important point to note here is that it is not the acid that creates cancer, but cancer creates the acidic environment.
Why does the Alkaline theory persist?
The theory of a low-acid and high-alkaline diet as one of the best cancer treatment options persist because our diet is something that we can control. While the established link between an Alkaline Diet and blood pH is unusual, there is credibility in maintaining an Alkaline Diet as a measure to fight or prevent cancer.
Which are Acidic and Alkaline foods?
The pH value determines whether a food is Acidic or Alkaline. The pH has 14 points, and a pH value of 7 is considered neutral. If the pH falls below 7, the food is more acidic; if the pH is above 7, then the food is considered more Alkaline.
- Alkaline foods include fresh fruits and berries, melons, watermelons, black currants, raisins, bananas, grapefruits, apples, pineapples, nectarines, dried fruits, oranges, root vegetables, nuts, and legumes. These foods break down into short-chain fatty acids since they contain prebiotic nutrients. The prebiotic nutrients can nourish the good bacteria in your gut, which can help decrease cancer-causing inflammation throughout your body.
- Acidic foods such as refined sugar, saturated animal fats, and flour create an acidic environment in the gut, making it difficult for acidic foods to digest.
Spice up all your vegetable dishes with Garlic, as it can remarkably reduce acidity.
What to conclude from the Alkaline theory?
The bottom line is that high-alkaline foods are right because they promote the good bacteria in your gut, not because they can alter the pH of your blood.
Despite the low-acid diet claiming to be advantageous over an acidic diet, the former hasn’t been known to enhance the response of cancer cells to Chemotherapy or Radiotherapy.
If people wish to follow the Alkaline diet, they may choose to follow it. But some cancer patients already suffer too many restrictions, interfering with their diet. For the same reason, it becomes challenging for patients to get the necessary nourishment to maintain their weight. Bodyweight helps cancer patients to tolerate cancer treatment better. So, oncologists recommend that cancer patients maintain their weight with a tolerable diet. After all, there is no such thing called a ‘perfect’ diet.