The Alkaline Diet: To Recommend or Not to Recommend

The Alkaline Diet: To Recommend or Not to Recommend

What is an alkaline diet?

An alkaline diet is one that discourages acid-forming foods such as meat, dairy, and processed foods and encourages the consumption of alkaline-forming foods for the prevention of various disease states (Foroutan, 2016).

What's the evidence behind it?

There is no conclusive evidence that alkaline diets result in substantial health benefits.

Points to Understand

  1. The pH of your blood remains 7.35 - 7.45 regardless of what you eat, thanks to your lungs and kidneys. If this weren't the case, you would not be alive.
  2. The premise of the alkaline diet is to make the maintenance of the proper blood pH easier.
  3. The pH of a food does not determine the direct pH effect on the body.
  4. The acid voided in the urine is what ultimately determines the acidic or alkaline effect of a food on the body.
  5. Foods are either acid-forming or alkaline-forming.
  6. When acid-forming foods are eaten, the kidneys send out calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate to buffer the acid load.
  7. Eating foods with minerals such as potassium, magnesium, bicarbonate and calcium enables the body to handle the acid-forming foods more easily.
  8. The lack of mineral-containing foods (fruits and vegetables) may cause the body to pull from its own stores – mainly from the demineralization of bone. Even so, there is "no substantial evidence that this improves bone health." (Schwalfenberg, 2012)

Examples

(The Acid & Alkaline Foods List)

Acid-forming Food Alkaline-forming Food
Carbonated water Spinach
Club soda Broccoli
Energy drinks Artichokes
Popcorn Brussel's sprouts
Cream cheese Cabbage
Buttermilk Cauliflower
Prunes Carrots
Pastries Cucumbers
Pasta Lemons
Cheese Limes
Pork Asparagus
Beer Kale
Wine Radishes
Black Tea Greens
Pickles Onions
Chocolate Avocados
Nuts Lettuce
Vinegar Celery
Artificial sweeteners Peas
(except Stevia) Sweet Potatoes
Coffee Eggplant
Fruit juice Green Beans
Beef Tomatoes
Eggs Almonds
Fish

The Bottom Line

An alkaline diet is higher in fruit and vegetables, and lower in salt, sugar and fat, which we all know is the optimal diet. There is not enough evidence at this time to suggest that it is any more beneficial than any other largely plant-based diet. If your clients are following a strict alkaline diet, ensure that they are conscious of the possibility of nutrient deficiencies if they are eliminating entire food groups and refer to a Registered Dietitian or other nutrition professional for more in-depth nutrition counseling if deemed necessary.

References

Foroutan, R. (2016, 04 28). Food and Nutrition. Retrieved from
http://www.foodandnutrition.org/May-June-2016/Alkaline-Diet-Does-pH-Affect-Health-and-Wellness/

Hayden, K. (2011, 06 15). Truth is Treason. Retrieved from
http://www.truthistreason.net/ph-levels-and-cancer-alkaline-and-acidic-foods/food_ph_scale

Schwalfenberg, G. (2012). The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Health?
Journal of Environmental and Public Health.

The Acid & Alkaline Foods List. (n.d.). Retrieved from Asana Foods:
http://asanafoods.com/blog/the-acid-alkaline-foods-list/

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Sarah is a Registered Dietitian, health coach, blogger, presenter, writer and founder of Simpletic Nutrition. Sarah holds a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from the University of Memphis and a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Food Science from Middle Tennessee State University. Sarah resides in Nashville, TN, with her two sons, Eli and Ethan, and her husband, Scott. Contact: www.simpleticnutrition.com/contact

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