What is the Alkaline Diet?
Proponents of alkaline diets and products claim that by consuming alkaline foods or beverages, you can shift your bodies pH to become more alkaline and thus lose weight, prevent chronic disease, and slow aging. Many believe following an alkaline diet will prevent cancer cells to grow due to studies that have suggested cancerous cells thrive in an acidic environment. However, these studies are conducted in a Petri dish. They do not represent the complexity of the human body.
It’s important that we first understand what pH is. pH is a measure of how acidic or basic a solution is. Acidic solutions have a pH of 0-6.9, a neutral solution has a pH of 7, and alkaline solutions have a pH of 7.1-14.
Alkaline waters are marketed to have a pH of 8-9.5. Where as typical drinking water has a pH of ~7.
Alkaline foods include fruit, unsweetened juices, raisins, tomatoes, eggplant, cabbage, carrots, legumes, seeds, sprouts and nuts. Acidic foods include red meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, grains, alcohol, soda, lentils, peanuts, walnuts, coffee, tea, and chocolate.
To follow an alkaline diet, it is recommended to consume alkaline foods 80% of the time and limit acidic foods to 20% of the time.
Does It Work?
The human body works 24/7 to maintain homeostasis, a stable environment. Organs work together to ensure our blood pH remains between 7.35-7.45. The lungs breath off CO2, making our blood less acidic. The kidneys release acids or bases into our bloodstream, tweaking the pH as needed. This results in an everchanging urine pH. If your blood pH were to change too drastically, you could develop metabolic acidosis or metabolic alkalosis. This is very dangerous and requires medical attention.
So ultimately, even if we could change our blood pH through food or beverage, we simply would not want to.
Many times alkaline products, such as alkaline waters, are significantly more expensive than regular drinking water. Due to the marketing tactics of these companies, consumers are falling time and time again for the health claims on the products and wasting their money on false promises.
The Bottom Line
Although the alkaline diet promotes many nutritious foods that can reduce inflammation and thus the risk of chronic disease, it also restricts many other nutritious options. This could result in nutritional deficiencies. At the end of the day, you simply cannot change the pH of our bodies through food and beverage. Following a diet, such as this, can be restrictive and expensive. Especially, if you are purchasing the alkaline water. A diet rich in plants, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy coupled with plain old drinking water continues to be an excellent dietary pattern. There is no need to make nutrition anymore complicated than that.