Alkaline diet: What cancer patients should know

There’s so much information surrounding cancer and diet that it can be hard to separate the myths
from the facts. That’s especially true when it comes to trendy diets.

The alkaline diet is one such trendy diet that often comes up in
conversations about both cancer treatment and prevention.

So, to learn more about this diet we talked to Maria Petzel, a
senior clinical dietitian at MD Anderson.
Here’s what she had to say.

What is the alkaline diet?

The alkaline diet is based on the theory that eating certain foods
can change the body’s acid levels, also called the pH levels. Some
believe that changing the body’s pH levels can improve your health and
help you lose weight or even prevent cancer.

But there’s no way the foods you eat can alter the pH level of your
blood. The body’s pH is a very tightly regulated system. If you change
your diet, you may see changes in the pH of your saliva or urine
because these are waste products, but there’s no way you could ever
eat enough that it really impacts your blood.

What is alkaline water?

While we can’t comment on specific brands, most alkaline water is
just like bottled water with different mineral content. Alkaline water
also can’t change the pH of your blood.  

What is the link between the alkaline diet and cancer?

Some studies have shown that acidic environments help cancer cells
grow. So the idea is that a diet high in alkaline foods (high pH) and
low in acidic foods will raise the body’s pH levels (make the body
more alkaline) and prevent or even cure cancer.

It should be noted that these are studies of cancer cells in a dish
and do not represent the complex nature of how tumors behave in the
human body. And food cannot change the pH of your blood.

What should cancer patients know before changing their diets?

Research shows that there’s no one diet or food that can cure
cancer. But proper nutrition can help you feel your best during cancer
treatment – or at any time.

That’s why it’s so important to talk to a doctor or a dietitian
before beginning a new diet. This is true regardless of whether you
have cancer. Different diet plans work for different people, and your
doctor or dietitian can help you determine if a new diet will help you
reach your health goals.

If you’re an MD Anderson patient, ask
your doctor here to refer you to a clinical dietitian. Each clinic at
MD Anderson has an assigned dietitian
who is available to help patients at all stages of cancer treatment.

Your dietitian can assess your nutrition and talk with you about
your nutrition goals, which may change at different stages of
treatment. Your dietitian can help limit your diet’s adverse effects
on your treatment, minimize side effects and help you cope with new
food sensitives that you’ve developed since your diagnosis.

Together, you and your clinical dietitian can find the right diet to
help you feel your best.

Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by
calling 1-877-632-6789.