Can it live up to all its claims?
Before trying the newest diet fad, it’s important to get the facts. A diet may promise amazing results, but are they really possible? The alkaline diet is one such diet. A quick Internet search will give you websites claiming the alkaline diet will help you lose weight and slow the aging process, cure diabetes, arthritis, and even cancer. If these assertions were true, wouldn’t everyone want to be on this diet?
Let’s find out.
The Alkaline Theory
Each of your body parts has a pH level, as do most foods, and they’re either more acidic, alkaline, or neutral. A pH of 0 is completely acidic, 14 is completely alkaline, and 7 is neutral. Healthy stomachs have an acidic pH of 1.35–3.5, a level that allows it to digest food. Normal blood pH is between 7.35 and 7.45, so it’s slightly alkaline.
The goal of the alkaline diet is to eat foods that will help maintain a balanced alkaline pH level. Eating too many foods that produce acid will throw off this balance and cause a loss of valuable nutrients (calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium) needed by your body. When these minerals are lost, your body must work to restore its equilibrium, your pH is unbalanced, and you’re at an increased risk for disease.
Unfortunately, the theory behind the alkaline diet doesn’t hold up. Your body is naturally able to regulate its pH balance, regardless of what you eat or don’t eat. Your diet may influence the pH of your urine, but not your blood.
Behind the Diet
In order to optimize the pH balance of your blood, the alkaline diet discourages foods that produce acid. Popular foods that produce acid include poultry, fish, meat, shellfish, grains, alcohol, caffeine, sweets, artificial foods, white sugar, white flour, processed foods, milk, cheese, and salt.
So what do you eat on the diet? Fresh fruits, vegetables, soy products, seeds, nuts, legumes, and some grains. It may be very different from the typical Western diet, as it is a vegetarian diet that includes foods similar to that of hunters and gatherers of old.
The Possible Benefits
It is a scientific fact that eating more fruits and veggies while limiting the consumption of meat, refined grains, processed foods, and salt is good for your health. Obviously, this is the first major perk for the alkaline diet.
A second benefit is a decreased risk of kidney stones. A diet high in animal protein lowers urine pH, which increases the risk of developing kidney stones.
Third, the high consumption of fruits and veggies may lead to muscle preservation as you age. More muscle mass increases your strength, improves your metabolism, and decreases your risk of injury—all great benefits as you get older.
Avoiding refined sugars may help keep your skin looking young…that’s benefitfour if you’re keeping count.
As a fifth perk, an alkaline diet may lead to weight loss. Consuming more plant-based foods is a great way to lose extra pounds as long as you don’t overdo it on portion size.
A vegetarian diet may contribute to a lower risk of colon cancer. Those who eat more fresh produce and drink more water also have a lower rate of disease and cancer. A sixth benefit. However, these benefits have nothing to do with the pH of your blood.
The Possible Risks
Though some may reap positive benefits from the alkaline diet, it can cause some serious issues if you have kidney disease, diabetes, or other health conditions. Additionally, the alkaline diet puts you at risk for not getting enough protein and calcium.
Additionally, you may find it difficult to lose weight on the diet. You can easily eat too much good stuff—nuts, seeds and other foods that are high in fat—and gain weight. And as if that wasn’t bad news enough, this diet can get confusing, as it’s not always easy to know what foods are alkaline and what are acidic. While you may think of apple cider vinegar and lemons as acidic, they’re actually alkaline because of how your body metabolizes them. Also, some healthy foods produce acid such as cranberries, walnuts, and tea and must be limited when following the alkaline diet.
AD’s Bottom Line
What it all comes down to is the fact that the alkaline diet is a marketing ploy. Regulating your blood pH is unnecessary. The benefits from this diet are due to the healthy eating guidelines you’d hear from any healthcare professional: eat more fruits and veggies, limit your intake of processed foods, and cut back on sodium. So do that, skip the rest, and you’ll be in great shape.