How often have you thought about your body's pH?
If you just said "never", then you're totally normal. I never once gave my body's pH balance a single thought. pH balance was some catch phrase I heard in deoderant commercials. But I never gave a single thought to the fact that my body had it's own pH and what that might mean for my health.
Just in case you forget what pH means, here's a little refresher. pH actually means "potential Hydrogen". Basically what it's measuring is how many Hydrogen ions are in a solution. But this is better known as a measure of acidity. pH is measured on a scale from 0 (acidic) to 14 (alkaline). 7 is considered neutral. Water is neutral.
So what does this have to do with health? Well, our body is designed for a very narrow pH window. Ideally, our blood pH should be at about 7.365. So, we should be slightly on the alkaline side of things. That is where our body operates at it's best.
When we deviate from this number and veer into more acidic territory, our body starts to get a little upset with us. Many, many, many chronic illnesses have been traced back to acidosis (being too acidic). Here are a few: heartburn, eczema, arthritis, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, auto-immune diseases, AND possibly cancer.
I know. I thought the same thing. Being acidic can make me have cancer? You have GOT to be kidding! I thought cancer was simply cells that grow out of control! Well, back in 1933 a scientist named Otto Warburg was awarded the Nobel Prize for discovering that cancer thrives in an anaerobic environment. English translation: the less oxygen in your system, the friendlier it is to cancer.
Or otherwise stated: healthy cells grow well in an environment with lots of oxygen and cancer cells grow really well in an environment with less oxygen.
OK. Now for the hard part. Drawing the line of logic from Dr. Warburg's discovery to your body's pH levels.
We all know that our body is made up largely of water, yes? Above, I also pointed out that water is neutral (pH of 7) and has a chemical signature of H20. This means 2 hydrogen molecules for every 1 oxygen molecule and could be otherwise written as HOH. Water breaks down into H (hydrogen) and OH (oxygen+hydrogen). In very simple terms, an acidic environment contains more H than OH, thus it has less oxygen. An alkaline environment contains more OH than H, and therefore has more oxygen.
So, if cancer thrives in an environment where oxygen levels are low, it would thrive in an acidic environment.
Confused? I hope not.
So assuming you're still with me, we've figured out that an acidic environment means lower oxygen levels in your blood. And this, in turn, means a nice comfy home for cancer to grow in.
I'm hoping your next question is "Cynthia, what makes my body acidic?"
Well, there are lots of things that can contribute to this. Stress, lack of exercise, drugs, cigarettes, anger... and food!
Food is a major contributor to our body's pH levels. Foods like sugar, alcohol, meat, and dairy are all acidic foods. Veggies and whole grains are generally alkaline. So think about the normal American's diet. We eat eggs, toast and bacon for breakfast (unless you're eating multigrain toast, this is all acidic). Then for lunch, we get a burger and fries and a soda (again, all acidic). Dinner might consist of a meat (acidic), a starch (probably acidic) and maybe a side salad (alkaline). We feed our bodies acidic foods ALL DAY LONG!
And by "we", I really mean "me". I ate that diet every day of my life. Vegetables generally don't touch my plate. Even when I would go on a "health kick", what I really meant was "low calorie". I'd eat fish and brown rice. Or chicken and whole grain pasta. I had some of the basics there with my whole grains, but I completely ignored vegetables.
For the last 18 months years of my life, being a full time working "solo parent" with little time to cook, I have done nothing but eat junk. I'm sure my body was like the luxury, 6000+ square foot apartment in Times Square for cancer. It was cancer's dream home. Throw in my family's genetic pre-disposition for cancer and it's no wonder I'm 30 years old and a cancer survivor.
So, in the interest of continued good health and making my body as undesirable for cancer as possible, I'm makin' some changes 'round here.
Step 1 was to get rid of coffee and soda. So far, I've been doing pretty well. I've cut back severely, but I won't lie and say I've eliminated it completely. I'm looking to the long term and know if I don't indulge occasionally, I will never be able to stick with this.
Stop 2 was to decrease my alcohol intake. But since alcohol and chemo didn't mix for me, this wasn't much of a change.
Step 3 has been to introduce more vegetables into my daily diet. I've started eating at least 1 salad a day for a meal. I've also started juicing (juicing vegetables, not taking steroids). I'll write a blog soon about juicing because it's been... ummm... interesting.
My next step will be cutting back on sugar. So stay tuned for that amazing and fascinating blog that talks about sugar and cancer... seriously, it's riveting stuff. And it might be the step that causes me to lose my mind... because sugar and I are like peanut butter and jelly, we're meant to be together.
*sigh* No pain, no gain, right? RIGHT!?!