By Rehan Iqbal
When celebrities with perfect bodies proclaim that a particular diet is the secret to perfect health, we stop and take notice. If I can look like that by following the same diet, then I’m going to try it. At least, this is how many people react.
This is how the alkaline diet came to be a worldwide sensation. We are influenced by Hollywood stars and tabloid heart-throbs in a big way. When Victoria Bekham, Kate Hudson, Jenifer Aniston, and other famous names advocated the alkaline, or ash diet as the answer to good health, it became an instant craze.
If you’re considering an alkaline diet to lose weight or improve your health, this article will provide you with the facts you need to make an informed decision. Can you lose weight with an alkaline diet? Does an alkaline diet help cure cancer? What foods are alkaline? Yes, the answers to these and many more questioned will be provided here.
What is an Alkaline Diet?
The theory behind the alkaline diet is based upon the premise that what we eat contributes to the PH in our bodies. Potential for hydrogen (PH) is used to measure acidity or alkalinity. Calculated on a scale of 0 to 14, PH can be acidic (below PH 7) or alkaline (above PH 7). Around PH 7 is neutral. The natural PH in our bodies is generally around 7.4, slightly alkaline.
It is believed that the modern diet, which is high in protein and processed foods, is too acidic. Our early ancestors probably followed a more alkaline diet. Or so proponents of alkaline, paleo, and Mediterranean diets would have us believe.
In reality, we can’t say with any real certainty what the diet of primal humans was. It would differ, depending on the region where they lived. Essentially, hunter gatherer humans ate whatever they could find in their immediate environment. We are more fortunate. We can go to the grocery store and buy whatever food products we desire.
It is certainly true that modern eating habits tend to be unhealthy. In general, Americans eat far too much sugar, fat, and red meat. The alkaline diet, consisting mostly of fresh fruit and vegetables, will obviously be a healthier alternative to burgers, steaks, and pizza.
If we look at the list of foods that make up the alkaline diet, it cannot be denied that these are all very healthy options. Regardless of whether you believe that the alkaline diet is the next great evolution in human existence, it will certainly do you good to include these foods in your daily diet.
An alkaline diet is vegetarian, with only limited dairy products. Though, a strictly alkaline diets would be purely vegan. This means that you would not eat any type of animal fat, including dairy products. Fresh fruit and vegetables are at the top of the list of alkaline foods, with some nuts, seeds, and legumes also featuring prominently.
Below is a list of foods recommended as part of an alkaline diet:
PH Neutral Foods
While an alkaline diet advocates only eating high-PH alkaline foods, you can eat PH neutral foods in limited quantities if you are not strictly following a purely alkaline diet.
Foods to Avoid
If you are going to follow an alkaline diet, you must obviously avoid low-PH acidic foods, like:
Medical Science and the Alkaline Diet
I’ve read copious medical research documents on both the alkaline diet and the effects of alkaline water. While research into these topics is quite limited, there is enough information available to make a few reasonable conclusions.
Acidosis is a disease caused by too much acid in our blood. Our lungs and kidneys are responsible for controlling our body PH. Abnormalities or diseases of either organ can cause acidosis (high acidity) or the opposite condition alkalosis (too much alkaline). Obviously, if you suffer from acidosis, an alkaline diet and drinking only alkaline water would be massively advantageous. Conversely, this approach will be harmful for people suffering from alkalosis.
Reducing the acidity of your food is also beneficial for people with diabetes and acid reflux disease.
In a normal healthy body, the kidneys will remove excess acid which is disposed of in our urine. This means that an acidic diet will place extra strain on our kidneys which will obviously have to work harder to cope with the extra acid in our blood. Furthermore, it will cause the urine to become acidic which can cause additional health complications.
It is quite obvious that a highly acidic diet is not a healthy choice. We’ve all been told many times that a healthy body requires a balanced diet. Whether this means a strictly alkaline diet is open to debate. Though, it seems that alkaline foods are mostly preferable to acidic foods.
Can an Alkaline Diet Help Cure Cancer?
I’m always skeptical of any diet or health supplement that claims to cure or prevent cancer. It is a number one sales pitch for anyone trying to promote their supposed health products and, in many instances downright unethical. When it comes to medical cures and benefits, I rely solely on proven medical research. This information is not always easy to find.
Generally, I look for studies published in medical journals. These are usually peer-reviewed and have to be substantiated by a recognized methodology and research criteria. Although research to find a correlation between an alkaline diet and cancer is fairly limited, there is some information available.
Unfortunately, most studies concluded that there is insufficient evidence to either prove or disprove the effect of an alkaline diet on the development or risk-reduction of cancer. After reviewing 252 research abstracts, the National Library of Medicine found only one that met the criteria for determining the relationship between an alkaline diet and cancer. The results of this study were inconclusive.
After a bit of searching, I was able to find more substantial research documentation. I found a SciMedicine Journal publication, entitled: Epidemiologic Evidence for Association between a High Dietary Acid Load and the Breast Cancer Risk to be of particular interest and very enlightening on the effects of high acidity on cancer cells in general, as well as a more detailed analysis of how breast cancer patients reacted to an alkaline diet.
The premise for investigating whether an acidic vs alkaline diet may be beneficial for cancer patients is based on some known facts. Acidity promotes the growth of cancer cells. People with a particularly acidic diet are more likely to develop cancer. A second factor would be the propensity for cancer patients to develop acidosis. People suffering from cancer are less able to balance the body PH and tend toward having higher, more dangerous levels of acid in the blood. This seems to suggest that an alkaline diet should help reduce the risk of cancer.
After studying over 500 cases against a control group of almost 900 people in both private and public hospitals, the research was not 100% conclusive. There was a lot of evidence suggesting that an alkaline diet does reduce the risk of developing breast cancer and may also reduce the risk of re-occurrence in patients who are in remission.
In the end, doctors are only able to conclude that an alkaline diet may be beneficial for cancer patients. This seems to suggest that it is probably a good idea to follow an alkaline diet or, at least reduce the amount of acid in your diet to reduce your risk of cancer. Though it will not cure cancer, nor does it guarantee that following an alkaline diet will prevent the development of cancer. At best, it only improves your chances of recovery or prevention.
Is an Alkaline Diet Good for Diabetes?
Like research conducted into the effects of an alkaline diet on cancer, the test results for diabetes is similar. Results tend to be favorable but not conclusive.
A British research paper, investing the Alkaline-Ash Foods in the Dietary Management of Diabetes Mellitus revealed that people who adhered to a predominantly alkaline diet experienced lower glucose levels in the blood. However, they were unable to conclude that the PH of these foods were predominantly responsible as there were many other factors, like increased fiber and improved glycemic index for most of the alkaline or ash foods.
Whether or not it is specifically because of the higher PH, one thing is a certainty. Observing the list of alkaline foods as a guide for a healthy lifestyle will definitely improve the health of people suffering from diabetes.
Is the Alkaline Diet Good for Osteoporosis?
Many people suffer from osteoporosis, predominantly post-menopausal women. The disease causes the bones to become brittle, increasing the risk of bone fractures. There has been some speculation that an alkaline diet could be beneficial for people suffering from osteoporosis and other bone diseases.
The available evidence concludes that an alkaline diet provides no benefits for people with this type of bone disease. It may even have a negative effect as reduced collagen is a contributing factor in the development of osteoporosis and many other types of bone disease. Collagen is a protein that requires peptides for digestion. Peptides, in turn, require an acidic environment to propagate.
Is an Alkaline Diet Good for Everyone?
For certain health conditions, an alkaline diet can be hugely beneficial. These include:
It can also reduce your risk of cancer and improve general well-being.
However, an alkaline diet can be harmful for some people, like those suffering from alkalosis and some types of bone disease. If you have any chronic disease, you should speak to a doctor or dietician to determine what is the best diet for you. Regardless of what disease you may have, it takes specialist knowledge to know exactly what foods you should eat. No fad diet should be seen as a cure or for any type of disease. Correct nutrition for health disorders is a recognized science and should be taken seriously.
For most of us, reducing acidic foods and eating more alkaline foods will definitely improve our health. Even you aren’t going to opt for a strict alkaline diet, most of the items on the alkaline food list will improve your general health.
An easy way to help regulate your body PH is to drink alkaline water. By replacing regular tap water with alkaline water, your kidneys will be better able to control your body PH without making any major changes to your diet. Drinking sufficient water is essential for good health and it’s easy enough to simply drink only alkaline water as a hassle-free healthy alternative.
Though alkaline water alone cannot be considered a miracle cure for a diet that is too acidic. Eating less meat, fish, poultry, and dairy products will defiantly improve your health and reduce your risk of many diseases. We all know that fresh fruit and vegetables are the best way to eat. These are the most common alkaline foods. Basic common sense dictates that all alkaline foods are a good idea if you want to be at your healthiest.