Lets talk about the C word. Not that one, the other one. It’s a touchy subject as it impacts millions of lives everyday. Cancer is almost becoming a certainty for most people with the statistic of one in three slowly rising to one in two. If statistics can ever really be taken notice of, then this suggests cancer is certainly a topic worth exploring rather than treating it as a taboo. For us it's about prevention rather than cure and when it comes to causes and prevention we firmly believe nutrition has a huge role to play, it is after all what we do.
The role of acid and alkaline environments within the body is often raised in discussions regarding cancer. There’s sometimes a bit of misunderstanding about what this means, it’s not simplistic by any stretch, but we’re going to try and explain it as simply as we can.
Poor diet (processed foods, sugars, hydrogenated fats and general imbalance of nutrients for your type), stress, lack of exercise and exposure to the many toxins in your everyday environment, means the body is constantly having to deal with acid by-products of metabolism. These acids are a normal by-product of metabolism, but an overload of these acids beyond normal range, imposes stresses on the body’s organs and restricts their ability to effectively remove the acids. If the body cannot eliminate them, it stores these acids in tissues, which in the long-term propagates the onset of degenerative diseases.
Processed foods are high in acid forming minerals, such as phosphorus, iron and toxic metals; to ensure good health, these must be balanced by alkaline minerals, which the body holds in reserve for such a function. However, the continual bombardment of processed foods over time, leads to a decline in general health and a loss of the body’s alkaline reserve minerals (toxic metals will replace some of the alkaline forming minerals) - this causes an imbalance and a subsequent acidic condition.
Fungal infections found in areas such as the ears, throat, gums, teeth and intestines will also have an acidifying effect on the body’s tissues. As will an imbalance in gut flora (most people have an imbalance), which results in the fermentation of sugars and putrefaction of proteins, resulting in harmful, acidifying toxins infiltrating the gut and compromising the digestive system. The presence of a fungal infection is once again down to a diet of excess - usually an excess of processed, nutritionally devoid foods.
The acidifying toxins are stored in the extracellular matrix around the body's cells and for every hydrogen (acid) molecule stored, the body seeks to balance with a base (alkaline) molecule and stores this in the blood. The purpose of the base molecule, is to one day assist in the removal of the acid molecule from tissue. To summarise - when the body encounters a huge influx of acid, it stores the acid in the tissues and the pH decreases. At the same time, the blood compensates and increases its pH, therefore becoming alkaline.
As more and more acid accumulates, we start to see the displacement of vital minerals, such as magnesium, potassium and sodium, as well as a further increase in blood pH (becomes more alkaline). Displacement of minerals further perpetuates an imbalance which adds to an environment where disease can thrive. An abundance of free calcium in the blood for example, serves to over stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and lower levels of magnesium (it’s also been displaced, remember), this means that the body cannot offer a balance.
This is further exacerbated by the inability of potassium (low levels) and sodium (higher levels - it's displaced, but the body hangs on to it, to compensate for magnesium and potassium loss) to efficiently activate the parasympathetic nervous system. From here on in, you have the beginnings of the roller coaster of disease, unless you do something about it pretty pronto!
As the tissues become more and more acidic, you slip deeper and deeper into sympathetic dominance, experiencing the negative effects which come with this - excitability, anxiety, hyperactivity, anger, aggressiveness, ranting etc.
At the same time, the blood is becoming more and more alkaline and this is where something known as the Bhor effect comes into play. The Bhor effect states that as the blood becomes more alkaline, the red blood cells can saturate themselves with more and more oxygen; the problem is, they cannot let go of it! When the blood cells can’t release oxygen, the oxygen can’t be transported to other cells of the body, leading to an oxygen deficient environment in general.
And this is where the big problem lies - cancer thrives in an oxygen deficient (cells) and acidic (cells/tissues) environment. Eventually, you burnout your sympathetic nervous system and switch to the parasympathetic system, where you become stuck in a cycle of lethargy, depression, cynicism, loss of motivation etc.
The Importance Of Hydration
“Understanding the molecular physiology of dehydration will cause a fundamental paradigm change in the science of medicine, showing the way to enhance the natural healing powers of the body. The primary focus in medicine will become disease prevention rather than invasive treatment protocols.” F. Batmanghelidj M.D.
The body is composed of 50-75% water, with the blood being around 92%, the lungs 83%, heart and brain approximately 73%, muscles and kidneys 79%, skin 64% and bones 31% water. This places a huge emphasis on the importance of water in running our biological machinery, including maintenance of proper acid:alkaline balance in the body. Unfortunately, staying sufficiently hydrated is becoming harder and harder, since our body’s natural preference for fresh foods is being sidelined by enticing adverts of processed, dead foods, which seem much more readily available than their fresh counterparts.
It is important to remember - Fresh food carries water - processed foods do not! Being chronically dehydrated changes your physiology and creates various health issues, which further compound the effects of poor diet and increase the risk of cancer. It is also important to understand - without adequate hydration, from a pure water source, we compromise normal digestive processes, resulting in partially digested proteins being assimilated into the blood stream, causing an immune response and subsequent inflammation. Continue along this path over time, and the resulting systemic inflammation may well become a confounding factor in the development of cancer.
*Hydration Tip* How can you tell if you’re hydrating correctly? If you are needing to take a desperate trip to the toilet within half an hour of drinking, then your body probably isn’t breaking down the molecular structure of the water sufficiently enough to result in proper hydration - If this is the case, try adding lemon to your water. Nutrients in the lemon will cause the body to retain the water longer and thus break down its molecular structure for more efficient hydration of the various cell sizes.
Very recent research has also highlighted the role heat treatments such as sauna therapy may play in improving the body’s resilience. Dr Rhonda Patrick has been studying the effects of heat treatment on physical performance and the results which are shown to improve strength and endurance are also relatable to health and longevity.
Participants in the study were subjected to 30 minute sauna sessions twice a week for three weeks after their workout. The time it took to run to exhaustion during physical activity increased by 30% in the participants.
Other outcomes included:
- Increased red blood count
- Increased efficiency of oxygen transport to muscles
In consideration of our comments about cancer thriving in an oxygen starved environment, based on these indicators, sauna therapy could play a crucial role in cancer prevention.
Another interesting outcome of sauna therapy is the triggering of heat shock proteins (HSPs).
HSPs are used by our cells to counteract potentially harmful stimulus. They can prevent damage by directly scavenging for free radicals and supporting the antioxidant capacity of the cell by assisting in the maintenance of glutathione. They can also repair misfiled damaged proteins to ensure they maintain their integrity and correct structure.
That's a pretty solid list of reasons for kicking back in the sauna. Don't thank us, thank Dr Rhonda Patrick.
Rest & Sleep
Everything we’ve mentioned is about allowing your body to do what it needs to do and there’s no better state of allowing than when you’re at sleep or rest. In a previous article on sleep we’ve spoken about how during deep sleep 100,000 billion cells restore themselves as part of a seven year cycle. We detoxify, we de-acidify and we grow anew.
Nutrition, hydration, heat therapy and rest. Preventative measures we can all get on board with. Your body will thank you!