Myth Bust: Looking at the Alkaline Diet

The Alkaline Diet is a trend diet getting lots of attention right now. This diet is all about plant foods and pH balance.

The idea is to include only “alkaline foods” like vegetables, some fruits, certain whole grains, nuts, seeds, and soy, which, when broken down by digestion leave a residue in the body that is alkaline. Having residue that is highly acid is thought to be the cause of disorders and disease, especially cancer.

Acidic foods are to be avoided. This means foods from animals, like meat, fish, chicken, eggs, processed grains, dairy, and alcohol.

In theory, any diet that eliminates many foods and focuses on naturally low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods like vegetables and fruits will lead to weight loss.

But the main lie here is about the body’s pH balance.

Different compartments of the body have a different optimal pH range, like the stomach versus the colon versus the vagina. The body maintains the acid-based balance, as well as fluid balance, very well. This is called homeostasis, and it’s happening inside of us all the time. So the goal is not to have a more alkaline body. That would be a major problem!

What we should seek is a way to make it easier for the body to maintain normal levels of acidity.

Eating more plant foods provides the nutrients needed to help maintain normal pH levels. And minimizing highly acid-forming foods that are common in a typical diet pattern (such as meat, fish, chicken, and cheese) makes normal pH levels easier to achieve.

So while the body can manage highly acidic products and byproducts of digesting animal products, and handle keeping things in balance, this work does takes its toll over time.

Rather than jumping on the Alkaline diet craze, think about shifting your current way of eating to a healthier eating pattern that emphasizes plant foods. Your body will thank you!

Published by Okay to Eat

Natasha Eziquiel-Shriro, MS, RDN, CDN

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