I often see cancer patients drinking alkaline water and focusing a significant amount of their time and energy on alkaline foods. Is this an effective diet in the fight against cancer? The short answer is no, and any observed positive effects have nothing to do with alkaline foods. Let me explain why this is so.
In the early 20th century, it was observed that cancer cells could not grow in alkaline environments. There are several reasons why this is so, and this theory is very effective in a petri dish. The problem is that this theory does not apply to our bodies. The pH measures how acidic or basic (alkaline) a liquid is. You cannot change the pH of your blood enough to influence cancer. To understand why you need to look at the biochemistry of the blood.
Our blood is buffered, which means that it is full of molecules that ensure there are no variations in the pH of the blood. The body spends a substantial amount of energy keeping the pH of the blood within a very narrow range. Every protein in your body is designed to work at a very specific pH. If there is any deviation from this optimal pH, the proteins will cease to function correctly. In other words, if you were able to make your blood significantly more basic, it would very quickly result in kidney failure, respiratory failure, and ultimately death.
For millions of years, our cells have adapted to a very narrow pH range, and there are many metabolic reasons for this. When you drink alkaline water and eat alkaline foods, it does not make your blood alkaline. Increasing consumption of alkaline food and water will make your urine and saliva more basic. These fluids become more basic because your body is working hard to excrete these essential molecules so that your blood pH remains the same. In other words, if your urine or saliva is more basic, this does not mean that your blood pH has changed to any significant degree.
Any positive studies relating to the alkaline diet have nothing to do with alkaline foods. When you look at the list of “alkaline foods,” it consists mainly of fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, and legumes with tiny amounts of meat. These are all very healthy foods that are rich in nutrients. It is this high nutrient content that is giving patients health benefits. The high nutrient content is entirely unrelated to the alkaline nature of these foods.
When designing an ideal diet plan for cancer patients, the first goal is to ensure they get adequate nutrients because the cells will have increased metabolic demands while fighting cancer. The second goal is to make sure that they are avoiding foods rich in sugar. This diet will often consist of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. No one disputes that these foods are helpful when combating cancer, but it is clear that this positive effect is not due to them being alkaline.