01 January 2011

The link between pH and cancer (and some other common ailments!)

The body pH is a measure of alkalinity and acidity in our entire system.

PH stands for Potential of Hydrogen and it is closely related to the amount of oxygen our cells and organs have available. The ideal pH for a person is around 7.4 which leans more towards alkalinity.

The reason why the pH is so important is that:

    1. The vast majority of diseases including heart disease, cancer, nerve problems, premature aging and allergies, just to quote a few, have all been linked to an acidic pH, lower then 7.4

   2. The average typical western diet is highly acid forming, therefore causing our pH to be lower than 7.4 and consequently cause our bodies to be much more susceptible to disease.

In 1928 Dr Otto Warburg, a biochemist and a doctor, discovered that tumor cells are anaerobic which means they don’t breathe oxygen. In 1931 Dr. Warburg received the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for his research.

Many recent studies have confirmed what Dr. Warburg found, which is that an oxygen deprived, acidic environment is highly conducive to cancer. When our pH is 7.4, and therefore there is plenty of oxygen in our system, cancer cells are very weak and are easily overcome by our immune system.

Every food is either alkaline or acid in itself, and it is also alkaline or acid forming after having been processed by our body. Very often however the inherent alkalinity or acidity of a food is completely different from the final pH impact that a particular food has on our body.

For example citrus fruit like oranges, limes and lemons are renowned for being acidic however, after they have been digested and processed by our bodies, they actually become alkaline forming and therefore contributing our own pH to be more alkaline.

Refined sugars are very acid forming which is also one of the reasons why alcoholic drinks like beer, wine and spirits contribute heavily to lower our pH towards the acidic.

Salt on the other hand has an alkaline forming effect and the pH of ocean water is typically between 7.9 to 8.2 and for this reason it can be used in its isotonic form, diluted and cold-filtered, as a plasma substitute in a blood transfusion.

The typical traditional western diet is heavily based on acid forming foods: meat, dairy products, white pasta and bread, refined sugars, pastries, highly processed foods, tea, coffee, beer, wine and spirits are all overly present in our daily diet contributing to a higher acidic pH in our bodies.

Alkaline forming foods such as green leafy vegetables and fruits are too often relegated to a secondary role in our meals as small quantities side dishes and in many cases used just as a “visual” and colourful garnish for the main dish.

The table below is a guide to learn the alkalinity and acidity of some common foods. In your daily diet try to pick 75% of foods from the 3 columns on the left (alkaline forming foods) and 25% from the 3 columns on the right (acid forming foods).

You can check the pH of your saliva by using pH strips. They are usually available at the chemist as well as on the internet. If your pH is more towards the acidic (below 7) the best thing to do is start immediately a diet with more foods from the alkaline columns and very little foods from the acidic columns. Try to avoid completely the foods in the right end column (+++ ACID) for a few weeks and take some aluminium free bi-carb soda every day, one teaspoon in a glass of water. Check your pH level daily, first thing in the morning as you wake up and before you put anything into your mouth.

Please note: The table below is only meant to give an approximate indication of alkalinity and acidity in some common foods. It should therefore be used just as a guide and not as a precise measurement tool.
Vegetable Juices, Parsley, Raw Spinach, Broccoli, Celery, Garlic, Barley Grass
Carrots, Green Beans, Lima Beans, Beets, Lettuce, Zucchini
Squash, Asparagus, Rhubarb, Fresh Corn, Mushrooms, Onions, Cabbage, Peas, Cauliflower, Turnip, Beetroot, Potato, Olives, Soybeans, Tofu
Sweet Potato, Cooked Spinach, Kidney Beans

Pickled vegetables
Dried Figs, Raisins
Dates, Blackcurrant, Grapes, Papaya, Kiwi, Berries, Apples, Pears
Coconut, Sour Cherries, Tomatos, Oranges, Cherries, Pineapple, Peaches, Avocados, Grapefruit, Mangoes, Strawberries, Papayas, Lemons, Watermelon, Limes
Blueberries, Cranberries, Bananas, Plums, Processed Fruit Juices
Canned Fruit


Lentils, Sweetcorn, Wild Rice, Quinoa, Millet, Buckwheat
Rye Bread, Whole Grain Bread, Oats, Brown Rice
White Rice, White Bread, Pastries, Biscuits, Pasta


Liver, Oysters, Organ Meat
Fish, Turkey, Chicken, Lamb
Beef, Pork, Veal, Shellfish, Canned Tuna & Sardines

Soy Cheese, Soy Milk, Goat Milk, Goat Cheese, Buttermilk, Whey
Whole Milk, Butter, Yogurt, Cottage Cheese, Cream, Ice Cream
Eggs, Camembert, Hard Cheese
Parmesan, Processed Cheese

Hazelnuts, Almonds
Hazelnuts, Almonds
Pumpkin, Sesame, Sunflower Seeds
Pecans, Cashews, Pistachios
Peanuts, Walnuts

Flax Seed Oil, Olive Oil, Canola Oil
Corn Oil, Sunflower Oil, Margarine,

Herb Teas, Lemon
Green tea
Ginger tea
Tea, coffee, beer, spirits
Maple Syrup, Rice Syrup
Raw Honey, Raw Sugar
White Sugar, Processed Honey
Milk Chocolate, Brown Sugar, Molasses, Jam, Ketchup, Mayonnaise, Mustard, Vinegar
Artificial sweeteners


  1. Excellent article, Laura - now you're singing my song! My husband and I have been aware of the correlation between ph and health issues, particularly cancer, for quite some time.

    Thank you, as well, for pointing out that foods that may appear to be acidic (such as citrus), actually have an alkalinizing effect on the body. Friends of ours take water with lemon in it every night, before bed...I could never figure out why something with an acidic taste could be alkalinizing...I'll have to dig into the chemistry a bit more.

    All the best to you and yours for 2011! I hope the flooding we have heard about on the news has not affected you too terribly...

    Your friend in Canada,

  2. Hi Julie!
    Happy New year to you and all your family and friends too! The floods are not too bad where we are, in Hervey Bay. We have been isolated for a couple of days and our back yard looked a bit like a swimming pool but houses and shops have been safe here... Just a 100 kms north west to us though, especially in towns where they have rivers going through, they are still in much trouble... not a nice way to start the new year at all!! :((
    Thanks for your precious feedback... Craig and I have been studying and researching this stuff for quite a long time and it's really interesting... and so simple!
    Tell your friends that the lemon juice in water is an excellent thing to do, and if they do it first thing in the morning rather than at night it would be even better, since the lemon juice with an empty stomach also has a detoxifying effect, plus it primes the digestive system and the all body for the day ahead.
    Have a great Sunday!
    Take care,
    Your aussie friend, Laura

  3. Ralph and I finally got around to testing our pH with some strips this morning, before breakfast and tea...We each tested above 7 but below 8 :D..nice way to start the year, with a positive confirmation that we're on the right track!

    I am going to print up your food chart as a visual reminder for our fridge...luckily, I love dates and alot of the higher alkaline foods (green tea, honey and maple syrup, lots of greens and fruit ;)

  4. That's a fantastic result Julie! Craig and I are also around 7 and I found that our rain water, which we use for drinking and cooking, is actually slightly acidic so I'm experimenting to alkalize it with a tiny amount of bi-carb soda (aluminium free). We are both fishetarians and we eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables... We are renown amongst our friends for the huge colorful and plentiful salads that are always a big part of our meals :))

  5. Well, we do eat meat, although we have decided to eat it less often, and smaller portions. Fortunately, we get our chicken and beef from a friend who raises the animals herself. As for the salads and fruit - sounds like our house!

    The intention I have set at the start of this year is to be kinder to my body - it sounded much more loving than "exercise more, and go on a diet!!"

  6. I couldn't agree more... The thing is that if you are kinder to another person, or to your body for that matter, you wouldn't do anything to harm them, right? And you would do anything to make them feel better and loved...! I think that it is really the best approach of all!!

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