The popularity of the Alkaline diet hit the roof back in 2013 when Victoria Bechkam tweeted a cookbook based on this topic. The proponents have since praised it for its cancer, arthritis and obesity fighting abilities. Several celebrities, including model Elle Macpherson, have credited this diet for its health transforming abilities.
The premise behind Alkaline diet
The basic theory behind this diet is that too much acid in our body can encourage the growth and proliferation of health problems. According to Dr. Stephan Domenig, the author of The Alkaline Cure, most people start their day with acid forming foods like coffee, cake, toast and meat…which can cause weight gain, bloating, feelings of lethargy, joint aches, sugar cravings, premature aging etc. Other common bad habits like eating on the run, not getting enough sleep and stress also increases the acidity of our body. So by creating a more balanced pH, through eating fruits and vegetables and adopting good health practices, your body will be at an optimal state of functioning.
The Alkaline Diet: Is it really effective?
The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, where the lower you go from 7 the more acidic you are, and the more higher you go from 7, the more alkaline you are.
For the proper internal functioning, our blood requires a pH level of about 7.4 which is slightly alkaline. That said, different areas of our body have different pH levels. Our stomach, for example, is very acidic. This is to allow for the breakdown of food.
An important point to note is that, when it comes of the pH level of urine, it fluctuates depending on what you eat.
The goal of the alkaline diet is to get the pH of your urine as close to your blood pH as possible.
What can you eat?
Some of the alkaline producing food items include raisins, spinach, bananas, celery, carrots, apricots, potatoes, cauliflower, radishes and cherries.
Is it really effective?
There are no strong scientific evidence available to back the claims of the Alkaline diet, although some benefits do exist.
Cancer buster? One benefit attributed to an alkaline diet is its ability to treat cancer since, according to the proponents, the cancer tissue needs an acidic environment to thrive. But research shows that it is the cancer cell itself that creates an acidic environment. The fast spreading of the cancer cells creates the acidic environment; acidic environment does not cause the cancer cells to spread.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, the claim that an alkaline environment is less cancer friendly, is unsubstantiated. While eating healthier foods can reduce your risk for cancer, playing with the acid-alkaline balance to treat cancer is futile, and can in fact be dangerous.
Back pain buster? When it comes to Alkaline diet and back pain, there is small evidence that back pain can be improved with an addition of alkaline minerals. The study showed that Alkaline mineral supplements increased the level of blood pH and intracellular magnesium slightly, which then activated Vitamin D and other enzymes, soothing the back pain slightly.
Prevents muscle wastage? As our age increases, we are more prone to fractures. In a long term research study that looked at the preservation of muscle mass in older adults. Results showed that eating alkaline fruits and vegetables that were rich in potassium corrected the slight acidosis caused by the standard American diet that is rich in meat, grain and other acid producing food items, aiding the preservation of lean muscle mass. Acidosis encourages muscle wasting by hindering protein synthesis and promoting protein degradation. Eating alkaline foods can help correct this acidosis.
Alkaline diet does have benefits mainly because it eliminates packaged foods, diary products, caffeine and many other food items that are bad for you. It encourages a plant based diet rich in fruits and vegetables that are good for your heart, brain, muscles, joints, liver, kidneys and all other vital organs.
As far as weight loss goes, you will probably lose weight because you will be eating more cleaner, which will create a calorie deficit, making you lose weight.
That said, I don’t think it is necessary to adopt this diet to lose weight, because it can create deficiency in certain phytonutrients and essential fatty acids. Foods like honey, broccoli, watermelon, apples, and zucchini might be considered acid producing items, but they are filled with benefits that everyone should take advantage of.
Rather than following any specific diet, I would recommend eating cleaner by adopting a more plant based diet with lean proteins, and whole grains. You will definitely see a transformation as far as your cardiovascular health, memory, cognition, renal health, digestive health and weight is concerned. It will be good for your entire body.
Rather than eliminating acidic foods in its entirety, shift the balance more towards an alkaline state where majority of your nutrients come from alkaline foods and 20-40% of your nutrients come from acidic foods.
In many cases, elimination is not the answer. Limitation is.
In the comments below, please tell me: Have you heard of the Alkaline diet before? If yes, have you tried it? Please share your experience. I would love to know!