Does the alkaline diet work? Is it safe? How does it work? Here is what you need to know.
What is the alkaline diet?
The alkaline diet is based on the debunked theory that the foods we eat can alter our body’s pH. Essentially, eating acidic foods decreases your body’s pH (making it more acidic) and that makes it a more amenable environment for cancer and other health conditions. Additionally, alkaline diet proponents claim that acidic foods leave behind “acid ash” in your body which promotes conditions like osteoporosis.
In order to promote better health, the alkaline dieter severely restricts or eliminates “acidic” foods like meat, fish, dairy, eggs, grains, and alcohol. Neutral foods like ‘natural” fats, starches, and sugars, and basic or alkaline foods like fruits, nuts, legumes, and veggies are OK.
The alkaline diet emerged in the 90s as the creation of a man named Robert Young who claimed the diet could treat cancer. He was later sued and arrested for practicing medicine without a license. So…that says something about his diet creation.
Is it safe?
The alkaline diet comes with its share of risks, as does any diet that requires you to eliminate large numbers of foods from your diet. The most obvious risk is nutrient deficiency, such as iron, B12, B6, and protein. In addition to the issues that deficiencies in those nutrients can cause, there is also a risk of muscle loss with this diet as well.
Does the alkaline diet work?
The short answer is no. You simply cannot change your body’s pH with the foods you eat and that’s a good thing! The pH of our blood falls between 7.35-7.45 and the pH of our cells falls between 7.0-7.4. So our body’s pH is actually already slightly alkaline! That pH MUST stay within that range or else our cells cannot function properly. You can’t alter your body’s pH with food. If it were that easy, we would all die.
There is 0 scientific evidence to back up the alkaline diet. In fact, the WHO actually advises against the consumption of alkaline water.
Proponents often claim the alkaline diet promotes weight loss. However, any weight lost during the alkaline diet does not result from a change in body pH but rather an increase in produce consumption, which is less caloric. You can eat more produce without eliminating large swathes of foods from your diet and risking nutrient deficiency.
So the short answer to the question “does the alkaline diet work” is a resounding no.