Take Charge

Eating Alkaline

February 04, 2019

Tom Brady In October 2013 Image courtesy Jack Newton [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Nancy Gay

Love or hate him, New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady has made history. Not only is he the oldest NFL quarterback to win a Super Bowl, he also set the record for the most Super Bowl wins by a player – six. What’s his secret to success? The 41-year-old credits a predominantly alkaline-based diet and lifestyle. Though this diet isn’t a cure for cancer as some may claim, it does have health and weight management benefits.

Acidity and alkalinity are measured on a pH scale, which ranges from 0-14. A pH of zero means something is extremely acidic, while a pH of 14 means something is very alkaline. Anything with a pH of 7 is neutral.

An alkaline diet is high in fruits, vegetables and legumes and does not allow for processed foods, dairy, eggs, sugar, meat and most grains. It also is free of alcohol and caffeine.

The alkaline diet is about the metabolic by-products of the food rather than the food itself.For example, lemon juice in its natural state is acidic with a pH of about 2, but once metabolized it actually becomes alkaline with a pH well above 7. 

Human blood has a pH of about 7.4, which is tightly regulated by the body. Eating an alkaline diet does not change your overall pH or your blood pH levels. This means that while some studies have shown cancer cells thriving in a highly acidic environment, eating alkaline foods will not prevent or cure cancer. And, while you may lose weight on an alkaline diet, it most likely has to do with replacing high-calorie, low-quality foods with low-calorie, high-quality foods.

Stephanie Zamudio is a clinical dietician at Moffitt Cancer Center. She says an alkaline diet can provide health benefits due to increased consumption of fruits and vegetables and decreased intake of processed foods and added sugars. However, it is also important to keep in mind that this diet is not always beneficial to us while our body goes through the strains of cancer treatment. Zamudio stresses that it is most important to focus on maintaining adequate calorie and protein intake in order to maintain the strength to battle through treatments. Sometimes cutting out too many foods and significantly restricting our diets can have negative effects such as muscle loss and fatigue. Instead, she recommends focusing on a diet rich in protein and nutrient-dense foods and eating small, frequent meals and feed your body a variety of different foods.