The Alkaline Diet Debunked
By Antonia Manolios, Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD)
The alkaline diet aka pH diet or acid-alkaline diet plan has gained popularity through celebrity endorsement. Followers of this diet believe that by replacing acid-forming foods with alkaline foods you can reduce weight, lower inflammation and even cure cancer. The aim of this diet is to consume foods which are 80% alkaline and 20% acidic. People who follow this diet often check the pH of their urine as an indicator of their bodies pH.
It is believed that basic/alkaline foods help keep the body neutral and reduce the amount of stress the body has to withstand to maintain a constant blood pH. For example, if we overeat acid-forming foods, the body then has to work harder to neutralize the pH, mainly by releasing alkalising minerals into the blood to buffer the acid.
What are the so called acidic foods?
They include meat, rice, pasta, bread, cheese, soft drink, alcohol, coffee and sugar.
What are the so called alkaline foods?
They include most fruits and vegetables, almonds, chestnuts, tofu, herbal tea, some seeds and apple cider vinegar.
The BMI Clinic’s thoughts
The human body is an amazing machine and it tightly regulates blood pH. The body’s pH is indeed slightly alkaline and remains in the narrow range of 7.35-7.4.
There are many different ways the body regulates blood pH. One of these is through urine. If for example you eat something which is acidic eg meat, your urine will be more acidic to ensure that your blood pH stays within its tight range. So, the truth of the matter is, no food will alter your blood pH significantly.
Whether a food is alkaline or not, makes no difference because the body has mechanisms to regulate its pH. Following this diet may result in weight loss merely from the restriction of entire food groups (dairy, many animal proteins) and by avoiding the consumption of sugar, carbohydrates and processed foods and alcohol.
However, these restrictions can make this diet hard to adhere to in the long term and may lead to other nutritional deficiencies.
Our advice is to eat a balanced diet in all five food groups. Eat mainly plants, some lean proteins, healthy fats and minimally processed foods. Everything in moderation we say.