If you are dealing with cancer, chances are at some point you’ve come across the idea that an alkaline diet and/or alkaline water can treat or prevent cancer. My patients will often ask me of my opinion on this subject. As a physician of naturopathic oncology, I evaluate interventions using a predicted harm-to-benefit analysis.
Is it helpful or harmful?
Proponents of the alkaline diet will claim it “alters pH in the body”. While it may cause alterations to urine pH, acid-alkaline balance in the body is very complex. Our blood will generally maintain pH at a steady state and a recent study demonstrates the alkaline diet does not impact the pH of the blood. Furthermore, the mechanisms that impact the pH of the tumor environment itself are extremely complex and cannot be altered by dietary factors.
Alkaline water systems can be very costly, ranging from a few hundred dollars to $10K or more.
There is benefit if purchasing an alkaline water system motivates you to stay more hydrated because you like the taste of the water (or because you’ve just spent a ton of cash on a fancy system and you better use it).
Alkaline diet has a focus on high intake of vegetables and fruits and only moderate amounts of protein, which are healthy dietary habits to follow regardless. No harm in that, only benefit.
However, those who market the alkaline diet are usually selling costly supplements and other treatments along with it – most of which is not substantiated by evidence. Those supplements could be potentially harmful if they interfere with your standard cancer treatment.
As referenced earlier this study caught my attention. It is the first systematic review to evaluate the evidence for an association between dietary acid and/or alkaline, or the effectiveness of alkaline water, for the prevention or treatment of cancer. The study investigators did not find any research on alkaline diet for cancer treatment and found there is a lack of evidence regarding association of alkaline diet/alkaline water and cancer risk.
Meaning there is no actual research to prove (or disprove) the claims made by proponents of alkaline diet and alkaline water for cancer prevention and/or treatment.
Taken together, even though the theory of the alkaline diet is not legitimate, there may be some benefits such as good nutrition and hydration. However, the majority who subscribe to the concept of alkaline diet also believe that it is a cure for cancer – the most harmful aspect of the alkaline diet.
The benefits of a healthy diet and targeted nutrition
My dietary advice for anyone with cancer: Consume 4-6 servings of vegetables daily, follow a low-glycemic and whole-foods based nutrient-dense diet, avoid or minimize alcohol and processed foods. Stay hydrated with filtered water if possible, but don’t spend thousands of dollars on an expensive water system. Do a test to learn about your food sensitivities using a reputable lab that provides IgG-based testing. The immune system is a critical component of the promotion and prevention of cancer –not to mention many other diseases.The Information provided in an IgG-based blood test for food sensitivities is a valuable tool to help you further personalize your diet to avoid foods that may have a negative influence on the health of your immune system.
Nutritional support in the form of supplements should be supported by evidence for safety and efficacy. It should also be personalized and targeted to meet the specific needs of the individual based on their current health status and cancer treatments they are undergoing.
Alkaline Foods for Your Daily Diet For Cancer Patients .
If you have been indulging in excessive red meat, processed and junk food, it’s about time you included some alkaline food in your diet. Here’s a list to get you started –
1. Green Leafy Vegetables.
Most green leafy vegetables are said to have an alkaline effect in our system. It is not without reason that our elders and health experts always advise us to include greens in our daily diet. They contain essential minerals which are necessary for the body to carry out various functions. Try including spinach, lettuce, kale, celery, parsley, argula and mustard greens in your meals.
2. Cauliflower and Broccoli are healthy for our body.
If you love sautéed broccoli in Asian spices or gobi matar, they are both good for you. They contain several phytochemicals that are essential for your body. Toss it up with other veggies like capsicum, beans and green peas and you have your health dose right there.
3. Citrus Fruits.
Contrary to the belief that citrus fruits are highly acidic and would have an acidic effect on the body, they are the best source of alkaline foods. Lemon, lime and oranges are loaded with Vitamin C and are known to help in detoxifying the system, including providing relief from acidity and heart burn.
4. Seaweed and Sea Salt.
Did you know that seaweed or sea vegetables have 10-12 times more mineral content than those grown on land? They are also considered to be highly alkaline food sources and are known to bring about various benefits to the body system. You can tip in nori or kelp into your bowl of soup or stir-fries or make sushi at home. Or just sprinkle some sea salt into your salads, soups, omelette, etc.
5. Root Vegetables.
Root vegetables like sweet potato, taro root, lotus root, beets and carrots are great sources of alkali. They taste best when roasted with a little sprinkling of spices and other seasonings. Most often, they are overcooked which makes them lose out all their goodness. Pay attention while cooking and you will fall in love with root veggies as you learn to include them in soups, stir-fries, salads and more.
6. Seasonal Fruits.
Every nutritionist and health expert will tell you that adding seasonal fruits in your daily diet can prove to be beneficial to your health. They come packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that take care of various functions in the body. They are good alkaline food sources too, especially kiwi, pineapple, nectarine, watermelon, grapefruit, apricots and apples.
Love to munch on nuts when hunger pangs kick in? Besides being sources of good fats, they also produce an alkaline effect in the body. However, since they are high in calories, it is important to have limited quantities of nuts. Include cashews, chestnuts and almonds in your daily meal plan.
8. Onion, Garlic and Ginger.
Among the most important ingredients in Indian cooking, onion, garlic and ginger are great flavour enhancers too. You can use them in numerous other ways – garlic to spruce up your morning toast, grated ginger in your soup or tea, freshly sliced onions in salads, etc.