It seems like more and more people are talking about ‘the alkaline diet’ these days. And ever since Kelly Ripa publicly declared how much alkaline changed her life earlier this year, I wanted to know more.
So is taking control of your body’s acidity through food suddenly the way to boundless energy and health?
Those who swear by the diet believe that the standard American diet-full of meat, dairy, corn, wheat, and refined sugars (all acidifying foods)- is highly acid-forming and therefore overwhelming the body’s mechanisms for removing excess acid.
And the alkaline diet is believed to greatly reduce this acid load, helping to reduce the strain on the body’s acid-detoxification systems, such as the kidneys.
According to a 2012 review of the Alkaline Diet published in The Journal of Environmental and Public Health, there may be some value in considering an alkaline diet in reducing morbidity from chronic diseases–further studies are definitely warranted.
The Evidence Behind The Diet A-Listers Swear By
Those who prescribe to the diet believe the body includes a number of organ systems that are adept at neutralizing and eliminating excess acid, but there is a limit to how much acid even a healthy body can cope with effectively. The body is capable of maintaining an acid-alkaline balance provided that a well-balanced alkaline diet is being consumed, and that other acid-producing factors, such as tobacco use, are avoided.
And superfans like Ripa feel the alkaline diet can actually change their body’s biology for the better.
Its claimed benefits besides energy include weight loss and protection from diseases such as osteoporosis, kidney stones, gall stones, cancer, arthritis and diabetes.
And the diet has plenty of other healthy hollywood stars interested- For example Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham have reportedly embraced the pH nutritional regime for years.
pH Levels: Acidic vs. Alkaline
The ‘alkaline diet’ is based on the theory that certain foods can influence our body’s pH level.
“Consuming too much acidic food such as some citrus fruits has been proven to lead to stomach ulcers.” Points out Chief Medical Officer and founder of saludmovil.com Dr. Joseph Mosquera.
You might remember learning about pH levels in high school chemistry.
Here’s an overview if you forgot:
Foods have a pH spectrum from 1 to 14 with acidic to alkaline measurements. (Note: alkaline means having a pH greater than 7) The human body has its own pH levels.
“The purpose of the alkaline diet isn’t about changing pH level, but rather about giving your body nutrient-dense foods high in alkaline minerals so that your body doesn’t have to rob its own resources and do all of the regulating.” Says Dr. Mosquera.
What You Can And Can’t Eat On The Alkaline Diet
“Most fruits and vegetables, such as soybeans and tofu, and some nuts, seeds, and legumes are alkaline-promoting foods.” Says Dr. Mosquera
“And when it comes to acidic foods to avoid- Dairy, eggs, meat, most grains, and processed foods, like canned and packaged snacks and convenience foods are no nos.” Notes Dr. Mosquera.
Books such as Victoria Beckham’s cookbook tout the alkaline diet means no alcohol or caffeine, either.
Disease Curing Properties of the Alkaline Diet?
One of the most far-reaching promises of this diet is its ability to fight off cancerous cells. The idea behind this is that cancer cells tend to live in an acidic environment within our body.
“There is simply very little compelling evidence that having a diet rich in alkaline foods will help improve your health If you are suffering from cancer. Especially in regards to curing cancer cells . But what we do know is that balance and moderation in food intake along with regular exercise has a beneficial impact on your overall health”, says Dr. Mosquera.
“As well, there has been no link has been found between bone fracture risk, osteoporosis and an ‘acid forming’ diet,” adds Dr. Mosquera.
Will I Lose Weight on The Alkaline diet?
If you have to cut out many foods that you normally eat, you may unintentionally cut calories and lose weight.
So the ‘science’ behind this diet doesn’t really add up, but there are potential benefits.
“While there’s no hard evidence from studies that this diet does any of these things celebrities claim, it does usually mean you’ll be eating less junk, which is good.” Says Dr. Mosquera.
What’s the Deal With Alkaline Water?
It’s important to keep in mind that water, especially bottled water, is a huge industry.
In 2013 alone, bottled water produced in the US was a dynamic part of the U.S. economy, accounting for about $102.3 billion in output, or just below 1 percent of GDP, according to the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA)
“To make the pH in water more alkaline, you add more minerals. Having these minerals in the water does help somewhat indirectly your bones, but other claims like it helps absorb nutrients better, helps with aging process, and hydration have no direct medical evidence that it is beneficial,” says Dr. Mosquera.
“I believe the emphasis on fruits and vegetables at the core of alkaline diets offers the promise of healthy weight loss, not alkaline water.” Notes Dr. Mosquera
Testing Body pH By Testing pH of Urine is Not Proof the Diet Works
The notion that you can test your body’s pH by testing the pH of your urine is incorrect.
Your urine pH is not a reflection of the pH of your blood, but simply an indication that your kidneys are doing their job.
“Whatever the number on the pH strip, if you are healthy and well you can be confident the pH of your blood is around 7.4.” Recommends Dr. Mosquera.
So what’s the bottom line?
Dr. Mosquera’s final words of advice?
“When in doubt, ingest less calories, mostly from a plant based diet and combine with exercise. all in moderation.” Says Dr. Mosquera.