The alkaline diet is an alternative diet that attempts to correct the body’s pH by emphasizing foods that have alkalizing reactions in the body. Although few medical studies have linked the alkaline diet to specific health benefits, proponents claim that the diet treats a variety of conditions from digestive problems to cancer. For best results, talk to your dietician before undergoing a drastic change in your eating habits.
Proponents of the alkaline diet claim that certain foods lead the body to become overly acidic. These acidic foods – such as sugar, caffeine, animal protein and processed foods – are kept to a minimum of 25 percent or less of your total caloric intake, while alkalizing foods – including fruits, leafy greens and root vegetables – should make up the remaining majority of your consumption. Despite its claims, the alkaline diet has produced few studies in support of its methodology. The body has multiple mechanisms for correcting your pH to the ideal levels of 7.35 to 7.45, registered dietitian Stephanie Vangsness of The Brigham and Women’s Hospital explains.
According to the Wolfe Clinic website, which promotes the diet, when the body is acidic it resorts to leaching minerals such as calcium, sodium, magnesium and potassium from vital organs. In this state, your saliva, muscles, bones and teeth may deteriorate, causing a variety of negative symptoms, such as muscle cramps, twitches, electrolyte deficiency and brittle bones. Supporters of the alkaline diet purport that reducing your intake of acidifying foods and increasing your intake of alkalizing foods can help reverse symptoms caused by acidity. Despite the lack of mainstream medical evidence, the alkaline diet may provide many nutritional benefits by supporting the consumption of foods that are generally considered healthy, such as vegetables, root crops, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, green tea and lean proteins such as fish and eggs.
Vangsness advises against the alkaline diet because it promotes the exclusion of some healthy foods. Certain fats and oils that are restricted from the alkaline diet can provide essential fatty acids, which are required to maintain immunity and make healthy cells. Beans and legumes are also discouraged, limiting your intake of helpful phytonutrients that may boost the immune system and lower your risk of cancer.
Talk to your doctor before adopting an alkaline diet to reduce the risk of malnutrition and other negative effects. Because of the lack of scientific evidence, the alkaline diet may not be appropriate or safe for all people, and it is generally suggested that you make necessary concessions as your body requires.
- The Wolfe Clinic; Acid Alkaline Balance -- The Key to Vibrant Health; 2011
- Intelihealth; Alkaline Diets and Cancer: Fact or Fiction?; Stephanie Vangsness; October 2009
- Eczema Natural Healing; Eczema Food Allergies -- Removing Offending Foods; 2005
- Better Bones; Alkaline for Life; Susan Brown; January 2009