The alkaline diet, also known as the alkaline ash diet, is one of the most talked-about health trends of recent years. It’s based on the belief that you can alter the pH level of your blood and improve your overall health by reducing your intake of acid-forming foods and increasing your intake of alkaline foods. Those who rave about the alkaline diet claim that altering the pH level of your blood is the key to fighting off diseases like cancer and diabetes and maintaining a healthy weight.
Does The Alkaline Diet Really Work?
According to proponents of the alkaline diet, the acidity levels of the metabolic waste that gets left behind after your food is converted into energy can affect your overall health. The belief is that by eating less acidic foods, you can make this metabolic waste and your blood more alkaline.
The alkaline diet encourages you to eat alkaline foods like fruits, vegetables, and legumes more frequently than acidic foods like meat, dairy, and eggs. Foods made of natural starches, healthy fats, and sugars are considered neutral and can be eaten in moderation while following the alkaline diet.
The biggest criticism of the alkaline diet is the fact that although it promotes healthy eating habits like eating more nutrient-rich produce and less processed and prepared foods, no evidence supports the idea that the diet can affect your blood’s pH level.
So, if you’re interested in testing out the alkaline diet for yourself, it’s important to know the facts. Let’s separate the alkaline diet’s true benefits from the hype. Here are five things you should know:
1. Food can impact the pH level of your urine, but it can’t change the pH level of your blood.
Your blood has to stay within a consistent pH range for your body to function properly. And the human body uses a process called acid-base homeostasis to regulate the blood’s pH balance. Most experts agree that it’s impossible for the foods you eat to have a noticeable impact on this process or your blood’s overall pH.
But research does show a connection between your diet and the acidity of your urine. In fact, much of your body’s acidic metabolic waste exits the body this way. However, the pH level of your urine doesn’t reveal much about your overall health.
2. The alkaline diet can offer weight loss benefits.
Although there isn’t enough evidence that supports the belief that the alkaline diet offers benefits by changing your body’s internal pH level, there is a silver lining. Since the alkaline diet promotes eating more fruits and vegetables and less processed and prepared foods, it can help you lose weight. And these weight loss benefits can contribute further to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and a reduced risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
Despite the benefits that it can offer, the alkaline diet’s benefits stem from the fact that this diet plan incorporates many healthy eating habits that have been proven to offer benefits.
3. The alkaline diet probably won’t reduce your cancer risk.
One of the major beliefs that alkaline dieters live by is the idea that disease cannot live in an alkaline body. This belief is often brought up to justify claims that following the alkaline diet can reduce your overall cancer risk.
But, numerous reviews have concluded that there’s no connection between your body’s internal acidity levels and your diet. When it comes to preventing cancer, some of the healthy eating habits promoted by the alkaline diet may contribute to a reduced cancer risk, but overall, the alkaline diet doesn’t provide a magic shield against cancer.
4. The alkaline diet may promote muscle growth in women.
Healthy muscle growth offers the body many benefits including a reduced risk of bone fractures and other injuries and reduced experiences with chronic pain. A 2013 study from Osteoporosis International found a “small but significant increase in muscle mass” among female participants who followed an alkaline diet plan. Although this is an interesting finding, more research is needed in this area.
5. A strict alkaline diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
Like with any diet or nutritional lifestyle that requires eliminating or significantly reducing your intake of certain food groups, it’s important to remain mindful of nutrient deficiencies if you choose to follow a strict alkaline diet. This diet promotes reducing your intake of dairy and meat products, so you may need to supplement your diet with nutrients like calcium and protein.
Although research doesn’t support the basic premise of the alkaline diet and its supposed benefits it can serve as a guideline for clean eating. Following the alkaline diet reduces your intake of processed meats and other unhealthy foods while encouraging you to eat more fruits and vegetables. Whether you choose to follow the alkaline diet’s strict guidelines or not, this is always a healthy choice!