A popular practice of the ever-debated arena of dieting—the alkaline diet, has been popularized by celebrities like Victoria Beckham and Jennifer Aniston. It’s boasted to balance the levels of acidity in the body by regulating the pH balance. All with the final promise of losing weight and being healthier. Is it healthy?
How Does the Alkaline Diet Work?
If one were to adopt the alkaline diet into their regimen, the key focus would be to avoid and eat fewer acidic foods, and instead, those that are “alkaline.”
The diet is based around the theory that acidic foods throw off our pH balance, which is the natural balance of acids and bases that keep us healthy, and functioning at a high level.
Alkaline Diet 101
The idea is to load up on foods that are considered alkaline like fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Foods outside of these are classified as either neutral or acidic. Foods are said to leave behind a sort of residue or “ash” in the stomach once they are metabolized. This is considered metabolic waste. Too much of one type is understood to create imbalance.
The level of acid is measured by pH on a scale of 0-14. Low numbers are associated with high acidity, while low is closer to alkaline. A neutral pH would be considered about 7. The diet advises that you measure your pH through your urine.
Problems with the Alkaline Diet
The main concern with the alkaline diet is that the approach is to address alkalinity through diet and assess it through urine. This is confusing as the body has varying pH levels throughout different parts of our system.
For this reason, pH levels in urine may fluctuate much easier than blood. Blood is the real indicator of overall pH, and whether or not a serious imbalance is present. A blood test would do this. Outside of this, the issue is not in the method of testing—but rather the fact that blood pH is not profoundly altered by diet.
While the theory is questionable, does this mean the diet is unsafe? Well, not exactly. If one focuses on heavily alkaline foods, this might just as easily create an imbalance. However, if you’re able to find that balance, there won’t be an issue.
Potential Benefits of Eating Alkaline Foods
While the diet doesn’t necessarily offer what it is said to, there may be benefits to the core principles that it promotes.
- Promotes renal health: Kidney health may be improved by lowering proteins such as milk, meat, and dairy.
- Improves cardiovascular: Eliminating or lowering the intake of red meat helps to lower the risk of heart disease.
- Promotes lean muscle: Eating foods that are considered highly alkaline may help to build lean muscle mass in aging adults.
- Reduces back pain: An alkaline focused diet may promote the production of intracellular magnesium, which can help to alleviate back pain.
In respect to the studies conducted, it seems that although the alkaline diet does not correspond with how it is marketed, there may be benefits to using it as a base for nutritional choices. In the context of healthy diets, it might be beneficial to consider that a healthy diet is a balanced and sustainable one, what do you think?