One question I get asked all the time when I do talks or when working 1-on-1 with clients is whether every cancer patient should be on an alkaline diet.
There are lots of myths surrounding acid-alkaline balance and how the pH (a measure that indicates hydrogen ion concentration in a solution) of different foods affects pH levels in the blood, in urine and tissue.
In short: Food has the power to change the pH of our urine. But it cannot influence our blood pH unless we’re in metabolic acidosis or suffer from chronic renal insufficiency, for instance.
Also, sodium bicarbonate can temporarily increase blood pH but often my clients who do this complain about bloating and other gastrointestinal discomfort. Taking sodium bicarbonate away from meals is very important to make sure it doesn’t affect digestion.
If you want more detailed information, I invite you to watch my video that I created for the participants of my “Keto for Cancer” online course:
So, why do many people get better on an alkaline diet, you may ask now? As I said, phytonutrients (= plant nutrients) definitely have their place and if people replace processed foods, grains and sweet treats with vegetables and fruit, then they will almost certainly feel better. In terms of cancer, though, we have to go further to affect cancer cell metabolism.
There are some seemingly interesting approaches available that promise to help cancer patients, like for instance “high pH therapy” that requires alkalising minerals in combination with electrolyte balancing.
The evidence is not strong enough that I’d recommend it. In the 1980s, studies were done in several experimental tumour models in the 1980s. They found that the use of cesium or cesium chloride led to decreased tumour growth and fewer deaths in certain mice with cancerous tumours. In animal studies, however, giving cesium over the long term caused serious blood and neuromuscular side effects and even death. There is also some anecdotal evidence that high pH therapy can lead to serious problems.
In short- for those following a ketogenic diet for cancer, I recommend getting good advice on how to include green and non-starchy vegetables and other nutrient-dense foods as much as you can within your carbohydrate allowance. There are some simple tricks how you can the most out of your veggies! There is no reason to be concerned about over-acidifying the blood or body, though.