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Diet and alkaline body – discussion with PCP

daisy366's picture
Posts: 1493
Joined: Mar 2009

I love my PCP – she is a DO and takes lots of time with me. At my physical today I had an interesting discussion about diet and cancer. My question was about keeping the body alkaline. A belief for many here has been that we need to keep the body alkaline with foods that promote this in the body in order to be successful in fighting cancer.

My doc explained that “the body self-corrects” for swings in ph. The norm is 7.4 and the body will automatically adjust level using whatever organ it needs to accomplish this - even if we eat acid foods. She also said that if it was that simple, that there would be someone who would have come up with this as a “cure” for cancer with diet or a medication to make body alkaline. She said that cancer varies so much – some are caused by virus, etc.

Bottom line: while she did not discourage the anti-cancer diet, or alkaline foods. The issue of self-correcting was very interesting since we really shouldn’t ONLY credit FOODS as the reason for the healthy PH in our bodies but realize that the BODY ITSELF will CORRECT imbalances.

jazzy1's picture
Posts: 1385
Joined: Mar 2010

I find this interesting how the body will self correct our levels.

What I've learned, if we do follow a Mediterranean type diet with lots of good wholesome fruits and vegies and little red meat, we should be fairly close to proper alkaline level. I try this each day, but who knows if it's working...

Thanks Mary Ann,

upsofloating's picture
Posts: 473
Joined: Dec 2009

Thanks, Mary Ann, for passing on your PCP's insights. I have a bit of a medical background so I was also had the belief that the body self-corrects, always seeking to maintain the normal physiologic state of balance. However I also think it is worth considering that the better we feed the body the easier that balance is to maintain. Constantly impacting the system with highly acidic or inflammatory foods could be stressful on the body. I'm feel so much better on my diet! Working on keeping ALL stress levels down ;-)

HellieC's picture
Posts: 524
Joined: Nov 2010

I agree with both Annie and the PCP. My understanding of the body is that it is built to self correct. So if we put foods into it which are as close as possible to what it actually needs, then it has to work less hard and use less energy to get the most out of those foods. That means more energy for the things we really need from it - a strong immune system, for example.
Well, that's my layman's view, anyhow!

lindaprocopio's picture
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

I've eaten an organic high-fiber diet all of my adult life and that didn't PREVENT me from getting cancer. Although I am sure that is one of the reasons I was able to tolerate all this endless chemo so well. I believe we should all love ourselves and take super-good care of ourselves every day, and be vigilant about getting adequate fiber and hydration and eating tons of locally grown fresh fruits and veggies. But we can never forget that everyone's time on this earth is limited and finite, (not just us with cancer, EVERYONE's) and that the richness of earth's bounty is to be savored while we are still here in our bodies. A healthy diet can be really delicious, but if taken to an extreme that involves constant unrelentimg sacrifice?? Nah, not for me.

I was really into the anti-cancer diet when I was in remission (so long ago!) and brought that topic up with each different medical professional I had an appointment with. I got similar responses about acid/alkaline levels, and was told that if cancer craves sugar, your body will convert something else you eat into sugar in response to that craving. But (BUT!) each oncologist was quick to add that when people start eating a healthy diet, they FEEL better, and that everyone should eat a healthy diet. Not the Anti-Cancer Diet-afforming response I was looking for at that time. But it did allow me to travel abroad during my remission and not hesitate to freely enjoy all the new ethnic dishes and interesting specialty desserts eveywhere I went, and THAT was wonderful! All things in balance, I guess. Thanks for posting this, Mary Ann.

norma2's picture
Posts: 486
Joined: Aug 2009

Thanks for sharing this information. It confirms what I have read in other sources concerning acid and diet in general.
For me, I have decided life is too short to pass up the tiramisu.

carolenk's picture
Posts: 909
Joined: Feb 2011

What Linda shared is absolutely true: cancer is gonna find sugar to feed itself even if you are fasting. When a person goes too long without eating, there are mechanisms in the body to release stored sugar (glycogen) from the liver. During times of stress, the adrenals pour out cortisol--the anti-inflammatory hormone the converts muscle tissue into blood sugar.

I agree that the anti-cancer diet is a good idea as a way of decreasing inflammation. When the blood sugar spikes, so does insulin & insulin is a pro-inflammatory hormone. Sugar seems to promote a lower tissue pH (acidity) & possibly depletes the body of needed vitamins & minerals.

I think maintaining a constant blood sugar is a good goal. I suffered from extreme drops in blood sugar in the weeks after my de-bulking surgery & bowel resection. I had been fasting x 4 days in hospital & my glycogen stores were depleted. Not wanting to promote the cancer, I was eating a low carb diet--BIG MISTAKE! My PCP told me to eat potaoes & other starchy foods so I would replace the glycogen stores in my liver. I did & that corrected the problem in a day or two.

Carbohydrate digestion/assimation begins with the enzymes in saliva & is usually adequate (except for the sugar "invertose" found in beans). The digestion/assimilation of protein & fats often needs assistance when we are stressed. Poorly digested proteins putrefy & poorly digested fats go rancid. Your healthy food can turn toxic unless you digest it. One of the clues to poor digestion is bloating, belching & gas.

Sorry for long post that is a little off topic.


lindaprocopio's picture
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

I saw a nutritionist after my IMRT pelvis radiation when my digestive system was so inflammed and the point she stressed the most was that I eat at least a tablespoon of active yogurt daily. I have to be so careful now not to stress my liver, and so many things get stored there that I am hesitant to add anything more to my supplements. But I've dabbled in taking acidophilus off and on, but I don't know enough about it to know if it's safe for me with liver mets. Anyone take these or know much about them?

carolenk's picture
Posts: 909
Joined: Feb 2011

Acidophilus is the name of one of hundreds of different strains of probiotics or "friendly bacteria." It is safe to use probiotics with liver mets--however, the introduction of the new strain(s) must be done gradually. The new bacteria usually creates a "die-off" reaction of unfavorable bacteria & yeast. That reaction manifests itself with a temporary increase in gas & bloating & abdominal pains.

Activa yogurt has been known to cause severe intestinal pains during this die-off reaction which can be quite frightening to those of us who live with the fear of bowel obstructions!

One of the main benefits of the health drink "kombucha tea" is in it's ability to restore the intestinal mileau to a healthy balance. You see, taking probiotics alone are not the complete answer. The pH of the colon should be slightly acidic & there needs to be something for the probiotics to feed upon ("prebiotics"). Prebiotics are found in fruits & veggies (esp. Jerusalem artichokes & jicama) and there is an added benefit from consuming "resistant starch." It has something to do with butyrate (which has anti-cancer benefits of it's own). Resistant starch is found in potatoes that have been cooked & then cooled down. You will learn much mire from a Google search.

Bring on the potato salad!


Fayard's picture
Posts: 399
Joined: May 2011

Yesterday, I had an appointment with a nutritionist, because as I have mentioned before I am trying to gain some weight.

She thought it was good to have given up refined sugar and sweeteners.
I do not crave sugar. I eat between 3 to 4 servings of fruits per day.

I told her I was a vegetarian, and I was only eating fish and eggs once a week.
She told me I needed to eat both at least 3 times per week.

I do not eat red meat, chicken, or refined sugar (including sweeteners), or drink cow's or soy milk.
She put me on a diet of at least 1800 calories. She said I could gain weight with it.

I had to substitute a lot of the food, because she did not have a menu for vegetarians.
I eat a lot of carbohydrates, beans and nuts. I also eat a lot of greens: kale, chard, spinach, etc.

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