Can you really eat meat and recover from cancer? Assuming it's meat that has been prepared without excessive salt and has not been cooked on a charcoal grill, the general answer is yes. What is really important is not avoiding meat or eating meat, but achieving acid-alkaline balance. Some people just can't stop themselves from eating too much meat--but they can usually find a way at least to eat some alkalizing foods.
Alkalis, as you probably know, are the opposite of and neutralize acids. And if there is any valid truism in nutrition for beating cancer, it's this: Acid is bad.
Acidity and alkalinity are measured in terms of pH. Alkalis have a high pH. Acids have a low pH. A pH below 7 is acidic, while a pH above 7 is alkaline. Maintaining the correct pH is critically important in every chemical process in every single cell in the body. Different cells operate at slightly different pH levels, but the overall acid-alkaline balance of the body is very tightly regulated by the kidneys.
The modern industrialized diet has almost all of us in a constant state of acidosis. We do not have the extreme symptoms that doctors would treat, but almost everyone eating a standard diet has a total body pH that runs just a little low. Even in healthy people, chronic acidosis can lead to:
▪ Higher levels of stress hormones, especially when there is a high-salt diet,
▪ Mild hypothyroidism and concomitant fatigue and weight gain, and
▪ Resistance to growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1, which help maintain muscle tissue.
For people struggling with cancer, the effects of acidosis are even more insidious. The kidneys neutralize acids with two nutrients, calcium and glutamine. Acidity in effect "leaches" calcium out of bone so it can be sent to the kidneys to form alkalis. Weaker bones are more susceptible to metastases.
The kidneys use the amino acid glutamine to neutralize the acids formed by the breakdown of protein. The skeletal muscles are the body's biggest store of glutamine. Their proteins are broken down when too much protein is consumed in an acidifying diet—canceling out the benefits of the protein in the meal!
How do we become acidic? Digestion breaks down much of the food we eat into its chemical components. Each of those chemicals eventually travels to the kidneys, where it stimulates the production of acids (low pH) or alkalis (high pH). At the end of a meal (if there is only one meal per day) or at the end of a day, all the chemicals together have a net effect that is either acidic or alkaline. The effect on pH involves both how intensely acid-forming or alkali-forming the food compound is, and how much of the compound is consumed.
Acid-alkali balance is mostly a result of how the body processes the mineral content of food:
▪ If a food chemical contains chlorides, sulfates, phosphorous, or organic acids, it stimulates the formation of acids.
▪ If a food chemical contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, or sodium, it stimulates the formation of alkalis.
The foods that stimulate the most acid production are aged cheeses (especially low-fat cheeses), egg yolk, canned meat products, lunch meat, and, surprisingly, brown rice and oats. The foods that stimulate the most alkali production are dried fruits (especially raisins), leafy greens, fruit, and vegetables.
The advice used to be that if it formed alkali, eat it, and if it formed acid, don't eat it. The problem with this sweeping advice is that all the whole grains and most protein foods are acid-forming. Protein is absolutely essential for overcoming cancer. Fortunately, it is possible to eat some acid-forming foods and still have a net alkaline diet. You simply need to know the acid-forming power and alkali-forming power of the foods to eat them in the right balance.
At the end of this article I have included a table of 110 common foods adapted from the work of two German scientists named Manz and Remer. For each food, you will see a + or – score. A + score means it adds acidity. A – score means the food is alkalizing, that it takes away acidity.
As you can see in the chart, some foods are much more acid-forming or alkali-forming than others. That means, for instance, a one ounce serving of spinach, for example, will more than cancel out the acid-forming potential of a one ounce serving of beef, chicken, brown rice, or even salami (not that you should take this fact as a recommendation to eat salami). You can safely eat high-protein and acid-forming foods, even some treats, as long as you keep your overall acid-base balance negative.
You can use this table to make acid-alkali computations, but you don't have to worry about doing math with this table. Simply balance items that are higher on the list with items that are lower on the list, and then add still more vegetables to be sure you have a net alkalizing meal.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU CANNOT EAT VEGETABLES AND FRUIT (or if you just plain don't want to). If you know you are going to eat a meal with a lot of meat or cheese and cannot eat enough vegetables to balance out the acid formation, then take supplemental glutamine. (Or if you simply cannot afford the supplement, try to eat cooked cabbage and beets, which are rich in the amino acid.) This amino acid counteracts acidosis.
Take only 1,000-2,000 mg at first to make sure you don't have any digestive upset. Then gradually increase your dosage until you have taken a total of at least 25,000 mg. At this point, your body has enough glutamine for up to 3 days. Then repeat the process.
Several precautions about taking glutamine supplements are in order. If you are sensitive to MSG, don't take glutamine, since they can interconvert. If you take medications for bipolar disorder or seizures, don't take MSG, since it can stimulate production of glutamates in the brain. And if you have diabetes, take no more than 5,000 mg of supplemental glutamine a day, since the body may not completely metabolize it.
Food or Food Group PRAL Score
Parmesan Cheese 34.2
Velveeta and Other Processed Cheeses 28.7
Low-Fat Cheddar Cheese 26.4
Average for Hard and High-Protein Cheeses 23.6
Egg Yolks 23.4
Hard Cheese 19.2
Gouda Cheese 18.6
Corned Beef (Canned) 13.2
Brown Rice 12.5
Lunch Meat 10.2
Average for All Meats 9.5
Rump Steak 8.8
Cottage Cheese 8.7
Whole Eggs 8.2
Average for Soft, Low-Protein Cheeses 8.0
Lean Pork 7.9
Average for All Fish 7.9
Lean Beef 7.8
Whole Grain Spaghetti 7.3
Hot Dogs (without Bun) 6.7
Average for All Noodles 6.7
White Spaghetti 6.5
Egg Noodles 6.4
Average for All Desserts 4.3
Mixed Grain Rye Bread 4.1
Rye Bread 4.0
Mixed Grain Wheat Bread 3.7
White Bread 3.7
Average for All Breads 3.5
Rye Crackers 3.3
Milk Chocolate 2.4
Wheat Bread 1.8
Whole Milk Yogurt with Fruit 1.7
White Rice 1.7
Whole Milk Yogurt, Plain 1.5
Sour Cream 1.2
Average for Beans and Legumes 1.2
Egg Whites 1.1
Raw Whole Milk 1.1
Average for All Dairy Products except Cheese 1.0
Pale Beer 0.9
Pasteurized Whole Milk 0.7
Ice Cream 0.6
Coca Cola 0.4
Average for All Fats and Oils 0
Olive Oil 0
Sunflower Oil 0
White Sugar -0.1
Stout Beer -0.1
Draft Beer -0.2
Hot Cocoa -0.4
Grape Juice -1.0
White Wine -1.2
Average for All Beverages -1.7
Mineral Water -1.8
Endive and Radicchio -2.0
Apple Juice -2.2
Red Wine -2.4
Lemon Juice -2.5
Average for All Vegetables -2.8
Tomato Juice -2.8
Orange Juice -2.9
Average for All Fruits and Nuts -3.1
Green Beans -3.1
Black Currants -6.5
Spinach, Kale, Collards, and Other Leafy Greens -14.0