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Food For Thought

Nutrition has been heavily neglected in the past century. Coronary artery disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer are on the rise, and have been for quite a few years now. However, all of these are highly preventable with a healthy diet. It seems that nutrition quality has declined once food companies began to focus on the profit and quantity of food. Human nutritional needs have not changed though; they still need essential vitamins and minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and natural sugars. Any refined, processed, and generally mishandled food disturbs these needs and makes our bodies want to maintain balance, causing an unusual change in the body’s chemistry and creating health issues.

Cancer thrives in an acidic environment with an abundance of sugar and a weak immune system. Our bodies are made of about 60% percent water, so any change in pH can greatly affect our homeostasis. When cells need to alter their way of surviving to live in an acidic environment, they will often grow without order, which is the main characteristic of cancer. There is a possibility of the opposite happening as well, however when the Standard American Diet (SAD) is analyzed it’s obvious that the food consumed very rarely offers alkaline substances.

One man’s attempt to overcome mesothelioma, a dangerous cancer, involved an array of alternative methods, mainly improving the quality of food he consumed and mind-body medicine. He outlived his prognosis by six years. This man’s name was James “Rhio” O’Connor. He believed in these alternative methods and lived the rest of his life not reliant on chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapy, the treatments usually suggested and provided by doctors. These treatments are often specified to kill cells, and sometimes these cells can become resilient against treatment and be deemed “incurable”. The side effects associated with these types of treatments are often horrendously long lists including: nausea, headaches, vomiting, anemia, diarrhea, neurotoxicity, fatigue, cardiac problems, palpitations, pain, myalgia, fever, constipation, neutropenia, many more and even death. No wonder someone would try alternative methods. Many people who have discussed this topic mentioned concerns about not wanting to feel terrible while trying to simply slow the progression of the cancer. Human survival instincts can be overshadowed when faced with side effects of modern drugs and treatments.

Now, these treatments are often effective and can keep the patient alive for another year and a half if the cancer is still slowly progressing, or longer if it actually kills the cells. I know of several people who have had successful surgery to remove malignant tumors, and chemotherapy to kill off the cancerous cells.        A treatment involving surgery and radiotherapy rid my grandfather of melanoma. This case was strange though because the melanoma was unlikely to have been caused by overexposure to sunlight; it was located underneath his thumbnail. Luckily, it was caught early enough to not have spread to his blood, lymph nodes, or thyroid. The interesting thing about my grandfather is the amount of milk that he ingests daily. He often goes through a gallon a week if not more. Considering the acidity of milk (with a normal pH around 6.6 or 6.7), could this unknown cause of cancer have been partially caused by this high intake of an acidic substance? If increasing this acidity of food has a negative effect on cells, then would the opposite be true—that is, would increasing the alkalinity of food have a positive effect on cells? Perhaps food and what we put into ourselves is even more important than what has been taught.

Using food as medicine has been around since the beginning of mankind. It shouldn’t be such a surprise that cancer could be treated with healthy food. The propaganda surrounding cancer treatments and medicine today has fooled many into believing it is the only option or the best one. However, it’s important to note that many doctors have never been required to take a course on nutrition. Yes they understand that everyone needs the essential vitamins and minerals, and it’s important to have fiber and fruits and vegetables in the diet however they were taught to trust the drugs. They were possibly taught a generalized form of nutrition, but not necessarily how it can heal the body. It’s uncommon for a doctor to correlate such symptoms as blood acidity with disease.

As humans evolved with limited resources in many areas, they became semi-scavengers, occasionally finding and hunting meat, but mainly eating berries, nuts, and roots. Following the SAD it is likely for blood pH to be as much as 300 times more acidic as our hunter-gatherer ancestors (Graci 112). It’s highly likely our ancestors ate only about 10 to 20 percent of their daily calories from animal product with 80 to 90 percent plant product (Anderson 18). Today that is no longer the case and we can see the toll that takes on the body in the form of disease and illness. Cancer is the number one killer of people under the age of 85, one in three is a woman and one in two is a man.  People are eating more animal fats, chemically processed foods, and eating less plant products. As animal products increase and plant products decrease, we have set ourselves up for serious health problems, mostly cancer, heart disease, and obesity.

Animal products are meant to spoil, be broken down for food for bacteria and fungi. People can slow this process by adding preservatives and freezing meats and animal byproducts, however if you wait long enough it still can be degenerated. Once these foods degenerate, the most common compound released from this is carbon dioxide, which creates an acidic environment in the body. By eating too much meat, the body actually starts to kill itself; cells are suicidal in an acidic environment and if they aren’t they develop differently and start growing without order. This is cancer.

Now there are many carcinogens out there that can aid in the free radical oxidation that can also lead to cancer. However, most alkaline foods contain antioxidants, which slow or stop this excessive oxidation. Just because someone is exposed to a certain carcinogen doesn’t mean they will develop cancer. The risk is increased, but working for prevention against this cause of cancer would likely provide positive results in decreasing the chances. Mesothelioma generally occurs from contact with asbestos in construction areas. Asbestos is a human carcinogen according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the EPA, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Often the reaction of cells with this type of carcinogen takes years to cause symptoms, so people such as Rhio, could potentially be at risk from past experiences and not even realize the potential for their cells to suddenly multiply without order and cause cancer. This specific type of cancer is developed in the membrane between organs, lubricating the organs that move against adjacent organs, such as the heart. Often it can be found in the membrane around the lungs, or in the abdomen. This is a prime location for a buildup of bodily fluids, as a lubrication for the organs, which also means can be heavily affected by pH changes.

            Alkaline foods such as fruits and vegetables are the best way to maintain a normal body pH. It may seem strange that foods with higher amounts of acetic acid (vitamin C), folic acid, and fatty acids from oils actually increase the pH of blood, but they do. Blood is supposed to be between a pH of 7.35 and 7.45 and in American’s following the SAD it’s more likely to be between 7.0 and 7.3. Acidity has been proven to promote cancerous growth. Many people who have cancer have low pH levels. Alkaline solutions have been proven to decrease and even kill cancerous cells (Gerson 7). Most grains, legumes, and oils are acidic but they are typically combined in a meal with a salad, fruit, or vegetables. The alkalinity in fruits and vegetables comes from the vitamins and minerals associated with these food groups. Potassium is one of the highest alkaline promoting minerals, it can be found in spinach, kale, potatoes, bananas, kiwi, and others. Magnesium is another highly alkaline mineral that is found in many green foods and fruits.

People instinctively know they should eat more fruits and vegetables but perhaps they need to understand the dangers with avoiding these foods better. It would be beneficial to cancer research to study the effects of eating foods that result in a higher pH level, not necessarily going vegetarian or vegan, but limiting the amount of meat consumed to about 10 to 15 percent. It would greatly benefit those who wish to have an alternative treatment for cancer than taking the usual drugs and hoping to not feel sick and send the cancer into remission. The key is balance.


Any other information regarding mesothelioma and treatments with results can be found at

This is not meant to provide a solution to any medical problem and any dramatic changes with lifestyle should be discussed with a health professional.
Anderson, E. N. Everyone Eats. New York University Press. 2005.
Gerson, Charlotte. “The Primary Cause of Cancer”. Gerson Healing Newsletter. July/August 2009: 7.
Graci, Sam. “A Perfect 7”. Alive: Canadian Journal of Health & Nutrition. Apri l2009: 112.
Kunszt, Edith. “Are You (pH) Balanced?”. Alive: Canadian Journal of Health & Nutrition. Oct. 2003: 114.

  • leeturn

    This is very thought provoking. What about stress and it’s impact on our food choices and our health?

    • Rachel Sier

      Well stress can also cause serious health problems, and certainly has an impact on our food choices. Often people with high amounts of stress look for “comfort” food, which for many people specifically here in the US encompasses simple carbohydrates, fats, and sodium (pretty much anything that comes neatly wrapped in packages). These foods aren’t necessarily the only options though to relieve stress through food consumption. Whole fruits can be just as rewarding in the sugar department (not processed dried fruits, which often have sugar added). I personally like strawberries and grapes. But if there is a dried option, I’d suggest dried mango because it has enough natural sugar that it typically doesn’t have any additional sugar added.
      Now an interesting fact about fats is the reaction our body has to them. Certain fats actually have a similar effect as marijuana on the body, often making the body overeat, but also giving a pleasurable feeling. The thing is that lately there’s this huge craze about “fat-free” food. If our body craves it that much and we’re partially made of fat, are fats actually “bad”? No. In fact certain vitamins and minerals cannot be absorbed by water because they are fat-soluble molecules. They need to be broken down by fat in the body to be used. The problem with fats though is the question of origin. A hamburger from a fast food joint is not going to be used by the body in the same way as a bag full of nutty trail mix. Now even nuts can still cause weight gain and all that if over indulged but they’re not necessarily loaded with sodium (unless they come neatly packaged), chemicals added to keep them preserved, or more sugar. The other thing about nuts and legumes, are the fiber benefits that don’t come from dairy or meat. The best part about eating fats that are from a closer origin to the earth, is that they still give that pleasurable feeling when consumed. I’d even suggest guacamole (mmm avocado’s healthy fats) and chips over french fries (these are also easy to D.I.Y.).

      Sometimes with stress though it’s important to figure out where it’s coming from because it’s better to work from the source. There’s a sense of being balanced when choosing what to eat, but that balance needs to be maintained throughout other aspects of life wether it be relationships, work/school, or physical being. Being balanced with food does tend to help with all of these aspects though, since eating properly tends to aid the physical being, mentality with increased ability to focus, and with improving mood which all can help with each different aspect. Life isn’t separated into several categories, it’s intertwined within many internal and external energies, and when out of balance it causes certain stressors which do have impacts on health. Depending on the stressor it’s important to find a way to manage that specific stress so it doesn’t get out of control.