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Don’t give cancer a place to thrive

I don't know whether your driveway looks like mine, but there's a huge, dark spot where I usually park my car. Over the years, fuel from my gas tank, and oil slopped during oil changes have leaked or ...

Karen Bowen
Karen Bowen

I don’t know whether your driveway looks like mine, but there’s a huge, dark spot where I usually park my car. Over the years, fuel from my gas tank, and oil slopped during oil changes have leaked or spilled there, making a huge mess. I’ve also spilled water and dumped cold coffee on my driveway, but that has never affected the tar. Why?

The fuel and oil caused a chemical reaction. The water and coffee did not.

In the same way, things that come into contact with our body cause chemical reactions.

Cells change because of the interaction of chemicals. Growing, healing, breathing, digesting; cells simply react to the presence of specific chemicals.

Well, maybe not so simple.

Just remember back to science class in high school – to every action, there’s an equal, and opposite reaction.

There are several ways to look at these reactions. Positive, negative or as a combination of both.

Positive: Some create pleasure. Soak in a hot tub at the end of a long day. After you unwind, take a look at the color of your skin. The hot water caused a good chemical reaction.

Negative: Some reactions cause pain. I wash my hair with my eyes closed. I want to avoid that burning sensation from the shampoo. By the same token, you don’t try to touch fire … I think you see where I’m going here.

These choices are obvious because we’ve experienced the results. Too bad the harmful, chemical reactions within our body are not as easy to recognize.

Consider digestion, it’s really just a series of chemical reactions. So where does food fit in: Pleasure? Pain? Or a combination of both?

I’ve certainly eaten a few ‘painful’ meals in my time.

When contrasting pleasure and pain, I’m considering what hidden effect a food had on my health.

Every mouthful we swallow is a catalyst for a chemical reaction within our body. The question is – will that reaction lead to a higher or lower level of health? One of the best ways to answer this question is to look at the same reaction and decide whether the food will increase or decrease the level of acidity within your body.

Cancer can’t survive in a non-acidic environment. Yet, many of the foods we love increase acid levels.

A neutral pH of 7.0 resists the formation of cancer. But, when body fluids becomes pH 6.4 or lower (less than 7.0 is more acidic while over 7.0 is more basic), it may permit tumors to become malignant.

Conversely, at pH 7.5, cancer has been shown to become inactive. At a pH of 8.5, tumors have been observed disintegrating. Ideally, a pH of about 7.0 to 7.5 should be maintained.

So, how do you figure out your own acid level? Remember using the litmus paper in that same science class I mentioned earlier? This same type of paper can be used to measure the pH of your saliva. You should be able to buy this at a science supply depot or drug store.

Put a strip on your tongue for three to five seconds and then immediately compare it with the color chart on the bottle.

Take stock of your overall health. Frequent cankers in your mouth, stomach ulcers, and colitis are some conditions that may indicate a problem with acidity.

To maintain acid/base balance, proteins act as buffers. They neutralize both acid and bases as needed. As well, our lungs, skin, digestive system, and kidneys excrete much of the excess. Our body needs to keep itself in balance because life causes acidity. Stress, the digestive processes, allergic reactions, even breathing are constantly boosting acid levels. And so are some foods.

Why add to the stress by eating foods that make a body work harder than it has to when you can choose better meals – give yourself a break.

Some foods that create a positive acid reaction include fresh fruits and vegetables (not cooked, and not cranberries, plums or prunes). Nuts: almonds, chestnuts, coconut. Seeds: pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, squash. Drinks: cocoa, coffee, cola, milk, fruit juices, mineral water, soda water, well water. Teas: dandelion, regular. Sweeteners: raw honey, molasses. Spices: cinnamon, curry, ginger, mustard, pepper, salt, miso, soy sauce.

But you should also eat less of these: fats and oils, grains, dairy products (except milk), all other nuts, animal protein, pasta, pharmaceuticals, other sweeteners (both natural and artificial), alcoholic beverages, beans and legumes. These all create acid while digesting.

In practical terms, for snacking pick up some almonds instead of peanuts; have a little honey on your toast instead of jam; and eat your vegetables raw whenever possible.

Choose wisely and make an effort to avoid foods causing unnecessary tissue breakdown. And when you get tired of paying attention to everything you eat – remember my driveway.

– Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant and she can be reached by e-mail at

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