The Alkaline Diet is based upon the belief that certain foods can affect the pH of bodily fluids, like urine and blood, and the overall health of the body. The diet claims that food choices (both what you include and exclude) can maintain the ideal blood pH level for optimal health: 7.25 to 7.45. The diet limits acidic foods (to ~30 percent of your diet) and promotes the consumption of alkalizing foods.
Although there is minimal scientific evidence from the traditional medical community that supports this diet, let’s look at what alternative practitioners, as well as consumers, say. Let’s also look at some of the diet’s specifics and what foods are included vs. excluded to see how it can benefit us, if at all.
What do the doctors say?
The regulation of acid-base status of the body has been studied for years. The Alkaline diet, otherwise known as the acid-ash diet, suggests avoiding certain foods to make urine more alkaline. By changing the urine’s pH, the belief is that you can prevent UTI’s (Urinary Tract Infections) and kidney stones. However, medical practitioners have affected urine pH mostly through medication rather than diet, making this particular diet’s efficacy hard to clinically measure.
Alternative medical practitioners seem to have a different view than traditional medical practitioners, with some suggesting this diet to their patients to prevent certain diseases and illnesses, like cancer, heart disease or chronic fatigue.
What does the research say?
According to a 2012 review published in the Journal of Environmental Health, balancing your body’s pH through an alkaline diet can reduce morbidity and mortality from numerous chronic diseases and ailments, like diabetes, hypertension, arthritis & more.
What do consumers say?
Consumers are eating it up.
As with most diet trends and fads, many celebrities, including Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston, rave about the effectiveness of the Alkaline Diet.
Victoria Beckham discovered the alkaline diet through the cookbook Honestly Healthy: Eat With Your Body In Mind, The Alkaline Way. In this book, writers Natasha Corrett and Vicki Edgson, vegetarian and nutritionist respectively, categorize acid-forming vs. alkaline foods, and offer delicious recipes to restore your body’s pH.
Acidic vs. Alkaline
The pH value refers to the hydrogen-ion concentration of a solution, which tells you if something is acidic, basic or neutral. A pH of 0 indicates a high level of acidity, while A pH of 14 is the most basic, or alkaline. A pH of 7, the value of pure, distilled water, is neutral. The higher the pH, the more alkalizing the food. Certain foods, like avocado, asparagus, broccoli, kale, and lemon, have a very high pH (between 8.5-9) making them great alkaline food choices.
Acidic foods (to avoid on the Alkaline diet):
- grains (corn, rice, wheat)
- sugar and sweeteners (sugar, molasses, maple syrup, processed honey, aspartame)
- processed foods, including processed meats (like corned beef and turkey)
- sodas and other sweetened beverages
- high-protein foods and supplements
- condiments (like mayonnaise, soy sauce, and vinegar, mustard)
- table salt (constricts blood vessels and creates acidity)
Alkalizing foods (to consume on the Alkaline diet)
- soy (miso, soy beans, tofu, and tempeh)
- starchy vegetables (lima bean, soya bean) and non-starchy vegetables (artichoke, asparagus, leek, lettuce, dandelion, etc.)
- raw honey & agave syrup
- most fruits (apple, avocado, berries, watermelon, raw tomato, etc.)
- herbs and spices (except nutmeg)
- whole grains (barley & millet)
- herbal teas (except fruit teas)
Is the Alkaline diet worth trying?
While there might not be a ton of research around the benefits of the Alkaline Diet specifically, the prescribed diet is healthy given the allowance of vegetables, whole grains, herbs and clean proteins, and the avoidance of processed carbohydrates and simple sugars.