An alkalizing diet is one that reduces acidity in the blood. The idea of this type of diet has gained popularity among health professionals and nutrition-conscious individuals. Your body works to maintain a slightly alkaline pH balance, which helps keep your bones strong and promotes good health, according to author Dr. Alejandro Junger. In his 2009 book "Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself," Junger explains that foods that seem acidic, such as lemon juice, actually alkalize your blood. More scientific research is needed to confirm these effects, though.
The Role of Diet
Although still open to scientific debate, some health experts think that nutrition is highly related to your body's pH balance. As Junger explains, certain foods create acidity or alkalinity in your body when they combine with digestive juices and acids. The typical Western diet is high in red meat, sugar and refined and processed foods. These foods are said to be extremely acid-promoting and, therefore, harmful to your health. Other foods, such as lemons -- and other fruits and vegetables -- are said to be alkalizing.
When you're eating the right foods, including fruits such as lemons, and your pH balance stays alkaline, your body seems to benefit in several ways, proponents of these diets say. Columbia University Health Services explains that alkaline blood absorbs more oxygen, which may make you feel better. With less oxygen in your blood, you may feel fatigued and experience weight gain, aches and pains and digestive upset. Some experts also think that an alkaline state preserves bone health by preventing your bones from leaching calcium into your blood, says Jane Brody of "The New York Times."
Alkalizing vs. Acid-Promoting Foods
Although lemons and lemon juice might seem like they would be acid-promoting in your body, in actuality they are said to be alkalizing substances. That's because there's a difference between whether a food itself contains acid -- as lemon juice does -- and whether it creates acidity in the body, Junger explains. Fresh fruits and vegetables, and their juices, are generally alkalizing, even if they have acidic qualities themselves, he says. Animal protein foods such as meat and dairy, as well as simple sugars, processed foods and refined grains, are said to be the most acid-promoting foods, although they may not be acidic in taste or ingredients.
When considering the role of diet in your body's pH balance, and the health benefits vs. risks thereof, it's always best to consult your own physician or a registered dietitian. Although few, if any, medical professionals would object to anyone increasing the fresh fruits and vegetables and decreasing the sugar and refined carbohydrates in their diet, some experts question the role of an alkaline diet and bone health. If you're attempting to treat a health issue, seek evaluation and recommendation from your health care provider before you include more lemon juice or other purportedly alkalizing foods in your diet.
- Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself; Alenjandro Junger, M.D.
- Columbia University Health Services: Ooh, Baby, I Like It Raw -- Or, Is a Raw Diet Healthy?
- The New York Times: Exploring a Low-Acid Diet for Bone Health -- Jane Brody