- The alkaline diet encourages eating fruits, vegetables, and healthy plant foods and avoiding processed junk food.
- However, no human studies prove that the alkaline diet improves health by reducing the body’s acidity.
- The alkaline diet may benefit people with chronic kidney disease.
What is the alkaline diet?
The alkaline diet is based on the premise that the food you eat can alter your body’s pH value. When your body converts food into energy, it involves a chemical reaction that happens slowly and controlled. The metabolic process leaves behind a residue called metabolic waste, which can be alkaline, neutral, or acidic.
According to the alkaline diet, metabolic waste can directly affect your body’s pH level. So, if you eat foods that leave acidic metabolic waste, it makes your blood more acidic, making you more susceptible to diseases. On the other hand, foods that leave alkaline metabolic waste makes your blood more alkaline, which improves health.
Foods that leave metabolic waste contain protein, phosphate, and sulfur, such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, grains, and alcohol. In contrast, those that leave alkaline wastes contain calcium, magnesium, and potassium like fruits, nuts, legumes, and vegetables. Foods that leave neutral metabolic wastes include natural fats, starches, and sugars.
Regular pH levels in your body
pH measures how acidic or alkaline something is. A pH value ranging from 0.0-6.9 is considered acidic, 7.0 is neutral, and 7.1-14.0 is basic or alkaline. Proponents of the alkaline diet suggest people monitor their urine to determine the body’s pH level. However, it’s important to note that different parts of the body have varied pH. For instance, the stomach is highly acidic, while the blood is slightly alkaline.
Food affects urine pH, but not your blood
It’s essential to regulate your blood’s pH balance as it may be fatal if it falls out of normal range. However, food has minimal effect on healthy people’s blood pH, though it can alter your urine’s pH value because your blood regulates its pH by excreting acid through urination. Therefore, urine pH is not an accurate indicator of your body’s overall pH and general health, as other factors may also influence its pH.
Acidity and osteoporosis
According to the “acid-ash hypothesis of osteoporosis,” acidic diets like the standard Western diet cause bone mineral density loss. However, this theory does not consider your kidney function of removing acids and regulating body pH.
Your respiratory system also helps control blood pH by exhaling carbon dioxide produced when bicarbonate ions from your kidneys bind to acids in your blood.
The theory also ignores the link between osteoporosis and loss in the protein collagen from bone, which is associated with low levels of two acids — orthosilicic acid and ascorbic acid — in your diet.
Clinical trials have concluded that foods that leave acidic metabolic wastes do not affect your body’s calcium levels. On the contrary, it improves bone health.
Acidity and cancer
Comprehensive reviews on the link between diet-induced blood acidity and cancer have found no relationship between the two. They concluded that food doesn’t significantly affect blood pH, and cancer cells grow in slightly alkaline normal body tissue. Tumors also grow in acidic environments they created themselves. In other words, the acidic environment that many believe produce cancer cells, are created by the cancer cells themselves.
Ancestral diets and acidity
Proponents of the alkaline diet believe that our ancestors’ longevity can be credited to their alkaline diet. However, researchers have found that pre-agricultural humans ate a diet with varied pH, depending on where they settled.