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By Lee Euler
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Is a low-acid diet the secret to beating cancer?
If you've been trying to teach yourself about alternative cancer treatments you know there's an amazing number of them — dozens, at least. If you counted them all (I haven't) there may be hundreds of "cures" and "treatments" competing for your attention.
I call it "hacking your way through the alternative medicine jungle." We're all explorers, machete in hand, trying to make our way through the thick undergrowth of promises and miracle cures.
Here at Cancer Defeated, we're trying to thin out the jungle for you. If you or someone you love has cancer, you don't have time to try this and that in hopes of finding out what works. I can't guarantee anything, but the treatments we bring you are the ones we think are backed by the best evidence.
Today, my search brings us to the acid-alkaline theory. It's mentioned favorably by quite a few alternative cancer experts. But the claims go far beyond cancer, with big promises of overall improved good health if you follow a certain diet and take supplements that make your body less acidic.
A few celebrities have taken up the concept. Popular self-help guru Anthony Robbins supports1 the theory that an alkaline diet is necessary for a healthy body. You may also have heard that Madonna2 and Gwenyth Paltrow3 embrace a macro-biotic diet, which is alkaline-friendly.
Our diet promotes high acid levels
As far as cancer goes, the idea is that cancer cells need an oxygen-free environment, i.e. they're anaerobic. When our tissues become too acidic, they carry less oxygen and thereby help promote cancer. What's more, cancer cells excrete large amounts of acid themselves. They more or less swim in an acid bath of their own creation.
Meanwhile, healthy cells thrive on oxygen, and the body's natural state is alkaline — the opposite of acidic. In fact, our blood MUST be alkaline and the body does whatever it takes to maintain alkaline blood. That means if necessary the body leeches alkalizing minerals like potassium, calcium and magnesium right out of our bones and tissues and uses them to keep the blood fine-tuned.
The theory is that if your diet promotes high acid levels, you're setting yourself up for cancer, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, low immunity and who knows what else. And you've probably guessed what's coming next: the standard American diet (called SAD by alternative health experts) promotes acid.
By alkalizing your body you can improve your overall health and even defeat cancer. A few doctors claim it's THE key to unlocking good health.
So, does it work?
We haven't published much this about till now because I had a hunch there were other, more promising treatments.
Now that I've looked it into it, I think my hunch was right. There's nothing wrong with trying to make your body less acidic and more alkaline but I don't think there's much point in making it your main focus.
Here's the good news: the diets and treatments that our books and reports recommend are pretty much the same ones that are supposed to make your body less acidic. So if you follow our experts' dietary advice then you're doing the right thing anyway. If you don't change your diet and you hope to defeat cancer with just an herb or potion, don't count on the pills alone to change your acid/alkaline balance.
I do firmly believe in the diet approach to beating cancer. Is it hard to change the way you eat? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes, in my opinion.
After a couple of years of publishing this stuff I followed my own advice and gave up sugar, wheat and milk products while drastically reducing caffeine and meat. Meanwhile I increased fresh fruits and vegetables until they're now a major part of my diet. That's pretty much the anti-cancer diet, modified for a little cheating since I don't have cancer.
The result was a huge reduction in pain and allergy problems to the point where I need very little medication (I used to be a several-times-a-week Advil guy, plus occasional sinus meds and antihistamines.) I also lost weight and have no problem keeping it off, and I enjoy a higher energy level.
What do you have to do to eat right? Bill Henderson, author of the book Cancer-Free, lists soda, alcohol and caffeine as absolute no-no's if you want to defeat cancer. You also need to give up sugar, dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, poultry (i.e. all animal protein of any kind) and pretty much all wheat products.
Another expert, the renowned Dr. Jim Sears, Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, recently recommended alkaline foods in his "Anti-cancer Diet"4 and notes that those who consume a Mediterranean-type diet (which is plant-based but high in monounsaturated oils, mainly olive oil) are in less danger of getting cancer because the foods "may in fact have anticancer properties." These are the same plant-based foods found on the high alkaline side of the food chart.
The most famous of the dietary treatments is the Gerson Therapy, designed by a German doctor named Max Gerson who emigrated to the United States during the 1930s to escape the Nazis. Two of our Special Reports devote a chapter to the Gerson Therapy: Natural Cancer Remedies that Work and Cancer Pioneers.
The softcover book Outsmart Your Cancer devotes a whole chapter to the Gerson Therapy AND a whole chapter to the acid-alkaline theory, if you want to know more. There's also a book called The Acid Alkaline Food Guide, by Dr. Susan E. Brown and Larry Trivieri, Jr., easily found by searching the Net.
The Gerson diet calls for lots of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, often liquefied and consumed as juices. Patients aren't allowed animal protein, salt or wheat products. The Gerson diet is pretty much the great-granddaddy of all cancer diets. Most of them are a variation of what he recommended. I've just given a very brief description of his approach. For more detail, get the publications I just mentioned or look up his books on the Internet. His daughter, Charlotte Gerson, still carries on his work at a clinic in Mexico and has also written books.
To sum things up, the acid-reducing diet is pretty much the same as other anticancer diets. Not completely, but I'd say 80 or 90 percent. You have to give up meat and other animal products, most dairy products, wheat, alcohol and caffeine, meanwhile consuming large amounts of raw vegetables and fruits. The diet calls for olive oil and some experts say it's okay to drink raw (not pasteurized) milk. Natural sea salt is allowed.
One odd thing is that the acid-reducing diet allows oranges and other citrus fruit even though they contain a lot of acid. Citrus fruits are rich in potassium so (according to the acid-alkaline experts) these foods are alkalizing when metabolized by the body.
There's more to the acid-alkaline theory — many pages of diet recommendations, if you really want to dive into it. But my take is that if you follow the kind of alternative cancer diet Bill Henderson, Max Gerson and others recommend you've pretty much got your bases covered.
To me the acid-alkaline approach is not so much a new therapy as an explanation for why the old diet therapies work: they do so by exposing cancer cells to oxygen and killing them off. At least that's what advocates believe. I'm satisfied that the diets do help overcome cancer, whatever the mechanism.
Scientists have known since 1931 that there is a link between oxygen deficiency and the cancer growth process. Dr. Otto Warburg, a two time Nobel laureate from Germany, won a Nobel Prize5 for this discovery. Dr. Warburg theorized that cancer cells exist at a lower pH (i.e. acidic) level, as low as 6.0. His studies showed there was a parallel link in the rise and fall of oxygen and pH levels. A higher pH goes hand in hand with higher levels of oxygen, and conversely a low pH (an acidic environment) is associated with low oxygen levels. According to Dr. Warburg, a low pH creates an environment in which cancer can thrive.
I'm sure of this: the alkalizing diet provides a long list of valuable benefits including vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytonutrients. Reducing acidity may or may not be the main benefit. More research is needed, and that probably won't come until our current medical establishment crumbles and alternative medicine is finally seen as mainstream. I'm confident that day WILL come because alternative medicine works, and consumers are voting with their feet.
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