Proper nutrition is at the heart of living a healthy life. When someone is diagnosed with a life-changing or life-threatening condition, they instinctively know that they need to make changes to their diet.
There are increasing amounts of studies that have found direct links between highly processed and high-sugar foods and conditions like diabetes and arthritis. Cancer survivors are no exception to this rule.
How Does An Alkaline Diet Fight Cancer?
An alkaline diet consists of reducing daily intake of acidic food while increasing intake of alkaline foods.
Some people even suggest cutting out acidic foods entirely. The theory is that since cancer cells tend to die in alkaline environments (1), eating alkaline foods will make your body an unfriendly place for cancer to grow and spread.
Many acidic foods are also pro-inflammatory and inflammation is believed to be one of the underlying causes of cancer (2).
The Battle Against Inflammation
In a healthy individual, an inflammatory process starts when chemicals are released by the damaged tissue. In response, white blood cells make substances that cause cells to divide and grow to rebuild tissue to help repair the injury. Once the wound is healed, the inflammatory process ends.
In chronic inflammation, the inflammatory process may begin even if there is no injury, and it does not end when it should. Why the inflammation continues is not always known.
Chronic inflammation may be caused by infections that don’t go away, abnormal immune reactions to normal tissues, or conditions such as obesity. Over time, chronic inflammation can cause DNA damage and lead to cancer. (source)
7 Steps Towards An Alkaline Diet
The western diet is so full of acidic foods that it can be a hard to know where to start. Here are 7 steps that will simplify the whole process:
1. Eat Your Greens
An acidic diet makes intracellular pH more acidic, a condition called latent acidosis – which creates the perfect environment for cancer to flourish and grow.
An alkaline diet can re-balance your intracellular pH and fight the spread of the disease.
Calciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli and cabbage should make an appearance on your plate every day.
Some veggies are best eaten raw, so make sure to inform yourself about the best ways to prepare your meals.
While fruits contain incredible levels of vitamins and minerals, try to stick to 2-3 pieces a day to keep your acid levels low.
2. Swap Your Protein
Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are chemicals formed when muscle meat, including beef, pork, fish, or poultry, is cooked using high-temperature methods, such as pan frying or grilling directly over an open flame (3).
In laboratory experiments, HCAs and PAHs have been found to be mutagenic—that is, they cause changes in DNA that may increase the risk of cancer.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) also warns that deli meats can increase your risk of colorectal cancer (4).
And so, it goes without saying that you should try to reduce your intake of meat and always select organic, free-range and appropriately fed meat. You can easily supplement your protein intake with beans, lentils, peas, nuts and seeds.
You should definitely give Meatless Mondays a go!
3. Cut Out Sugar
Cancer cells use more glucose (sugar) per unit of time than other cells (5, 6). Sugar metabolism creates acid, which also supports cancer progression.
High sugar diets also put a heavy strain on your pancreas to produce insulin. Insulin resistance, which is caused by a high-sugar diet, has been directly tied to cancer proliferation (7). In addition, high fructose corn syrup contains carcinogenic mercury (8).
It’s better for cancer patients to eliminate sugar in all its forms, even “natural” sugars like honey and agave, as well as white sugar and high fructose corn syrup. This also prevents magnesium deficiency, as the mineral is often depleted in the process of metabolizing excess sugars (9).
4. Eliminate gluten
Glutinous grains, like wheat, spelt and rye can cause inflammation. Especially wheat, which is full of pesticides, which are also pro-inflammatory.
Pastas, cereals, bread, muffins, cakes, crackers, cookies and other baked goods should also be excluded from an alkaline, cancer-suppression diet.
And while processed gluten-free foods may be more convenient, they often contain huge amounts of added sugars and unhealthy oils that cancel out their health benefits.
Instead, swap out these grains for organic rice, buckwheat, quinoa, teff, millet and amaranth. (source)
5. Stop Eating Dairy
Prof. T. Colin Campbell, PhD, Cornell University has stated that cow dairy is one of the most cancer promoting foods (10).
Casein protein, which is often found in the powdered milk added to yogurt and cheese, causes inflammation, bone deterioration and feeds cancer in a way similar to sugar.
Swap out milk for homemade almond milk or heart-healthy coconut milk and make your own cashew cheese.
6. Switch To Heart-Healthy Oils
Ditch processed corn, soya, safflower and sunflower oils as well as hydrogenated oil and margarine.
Fat is essential for neurons to communicate with each other. They act as a bridge by which an electrical impulse can travel within your nervous system. This kind of communication is essential for daily survival.
Unfortunately, fats that are hydrogenated cannot preform this essential task. Instead, once absorbed by your cells they compromise the cell’s ability to function. These inefficient cells then act as broken sections of the bridge and create electrical dead spots in your body. Thus, important messages within your body are received late or not at all (11).
This contribute to the development of cancer, a condition in which cells that no longer respond to intracellular messaging and proliferate without purpose, impacting other cells.
Switch these oils for cold-pressed, organic and extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocado, which are naturally anti-inflammatory and help conduct proper electrical messaging within your nervous system.
Coconut oil is particularly good for cancer patients with a suppressed immune system.
7. Change Your Drinking Habits
Instead of reaching for a can of soda or a bottle of beer, try a tall glass of water.
Store-bought juice should also be avoided, since it often contains high levels of refined sugar, food coloring and preservatives.
If you want more diversity in your drinks, try making your own vegetable juice and green or herbal tea. If you really enjoy coffee, stick to a cup or less of this highly acidic drink or replace them with energizing detox shots.
You can also make your own alkaline water here.
You may find it hard at first to make the change, but it’ll become habit after a few weeks.
If you’re someone who enjoys going out to eat, it’s best to stay away from most popular restaurant, as there can be a lot of temptation to revert back to your old diet.
Instead, stick to organic vegan or vegetarian restaurants as they’ll likely have gluten and dairy-free food. These restaurants also know how to pile on the veggies and will respond better to your alkaline needs.