There is a lot of research out there suggesting the link between natural diets and cancer. The aim of this article is to bring you objective, easy to digest information around that topic.
One in three people is predicted to develop cancer in their life, meaning that most of us will either experience cancer or have a loved one experience cancer at some point in our lifetime.
The Link Between Diet & Cancer
Making mindful and healthful choices towards diet and lifestyle can help to prevent cancers. Not only this, but it can also be very helpful and supportive during and after cancer treatment. For people living with and beyond cancer, eating well, staying physically active, and maintaining a healthy body weight may impact the progression of some cancers.
Eating well can help your body at all stages of the cancer journey from diagnosis, through treatment and recovery, and for people living with and beyond cancer. Food should be considered a key element in your armory against cancer following diagnosis, whatever your stage. This is not to replace treatment, but to support you to get the most out of your treatment, to boost your resilience, and do as well as you possibly can for someone in your position.
Can Diets Cure Cancer?
Some patients choose to follow an ‘alternative diet’ instead of mainstream cancer treatment methods. They largely base their reasoning and knowledge on the plethora of information available online. However, online information can be very misleading, lack reliability, and lack validity. At Curve.life, they try to help cancer patients feel better and live longer, whatever the prognosis.
Treatment choices should always be discussed with your doctor. There are some potentially healthy elements in ‘alternative cancer diets’, such as in the Budwig protocol, that can be incorporated into a healthy diet to complement treatment. For example, flaxseed oil used in the Budwig protocol may have healthful properties. Also, the so-called alkaline diet includes lots of vegetables, which can be a healthy choice – although the alkaline diet may not be suitable for some people with kidney problems.
Natural Juice Diets
Since the early 20th century, the use of vegetable and fruit juices has been proposed as a way to cure degenerative conditions, including cancer. In some therapies, such as Gerson and Breuss protocols, juices are combined with other non-dietary interventions such as enemas. Although some practitioners claim to have cured cancer with juices, there are no published studies showing that juice diets alone can treat cancer. Having a vegetable juice can be an occasional inclusion in a varied healthful diet.
However, juices made from fruit and some root vegetables have high natural sugar content, so these foods are best consumed as a food, rather than a juice, to consume all of the fiber. A varied intake of vegetables and fruit help the body to fight cancer and the fiber helps support the growth of beneficial microbes in the intestines.
Is it dangerous?
A particular note of caution about juice diets for people with reduced kidney function. Some vegetables and juices made from them are very high in potassium, for example, the Gerson protocol intentionally depletes the levels of sodium in the body and raises potassium intake. The Breuss protocol for some cancers includes raw potato juice which is extremely high in potassium. These protocols present a particularly serious risk for people with high blood potassium levels due to poor potassium clearance. Specialist medical advice must always be sought for any dietary changes when kidney function is affected.
A high intake of juices such as in the Gerson protocol can also cause bowel disturbances and lead to weight loss if juices are used instead of eating regular foods. Extreme juice diets that exclude all solid food for prolonged periods, such as the Breuss protocol which involves 42 days on juices and teas with no other foods for some types of cancer, can lead to severe weight loss.
The bottom line on juice diets is that they aren’t supported by evidence as alternative treatments for cancer. Enjoying vegetable juices in moderation can be an enjoyable addition to a healthy diet, but following ‘alternative’ cancer protocols such as Gerson7, Breuss and others using high juice intakes carry risks especially that can be especially serious for people with high potassium and compromised kidney function.
Naturally Cancer Fighting Foods
Budwig advised the use of flaxseed oil, but the flaxseed itself also contains some beneficial fiber. So another take on this would be to use flaxseeds rather than the oil, to enjoy additional nutrients beyond those that Dr. Budwig identified.
So Budwig’s protocol of flaxseed oil and fresh cultured cheese may have some helpful elements, and moderate consumption of them may be healthful for some people. Budwig’s advice to avoid processed fats and increase the consumption of vegetables was also healthful. However, the Budwig protocol as an ‘alternative cancer diet’ is not supported by evidence that it can treat cancer, and there are inherent risks of using it as a substitute for conventional treatments.
The ‘alkaline diet’ also known as ‘alternative cancer diet’ is also widely researched. The theory of the alkaline diet is that cancer cells love acid and so achieving alkaline conditions in the body will suppress cancer growth. Unfortunately, cancer biology and human physiology are much more complex than this explanation for an alkaline diet.
‘Acid’ and ‘alkali’ are well-known concepts in chemistry, but how they relate to body chemistry is often misunderstood. The body has systems to maintain an ideal pH, which is the scale of acid (low pH) to alkaline (high pH). Different parts of the body have different requirements for acid/alkaline balance. For example, the contents of the stomach need to be very acidic in order to digest food. On the other hand, saliva in the mouth tends to be alkaline and the enzymes in the mouth prefer alkaline conditions to start the process of digestion. Alkaline conditions in the mouth help to neutralize the acid which erodes tooth enamel. So a healthy body will make acid where it’s needed, and alkali where it’s needed. Inside each cell and surrounding cells are compounds that keep the pH where it needs to be for optimum health. In the blood, these ‘buffers’ keep the pH where it needs to be.
Leafy greens, cucumber, apples, ginger
Dietary intake has a part to play in the balance of acid and alkali in the body, although the role of ‘dietary acid load’ is still a nutritional controversy. If the diet is very high in animal proteins, the end-products of metabolizing these proteins are acidic, and the body must compensate for this by moving minerals around. On the other hand, eating a lot of vegetables provides alkaline components like potassium that offset the acid produced from metabolizing proteins.
Overall, some ‘alternative cancer diets’ claim to treat cancer, however, these are not supported by proper studies. Some have elements that may have healthful properties when incorporated into a healthy balanced diet that is high in plant foods. For example, the two main components in the Budwig protocol, flaxseed oil, and quark, may be healthful. Flaxseed can be a useful source of omega-3 fatty acids that may help reduce inflammation, and cultured dairy foods can provide beneficial cultures for the digestive system. Research into the ketogenic diet is genuinely interesting and ongoing.