Alkaline Diet: Everything You Need to Know

It's hard to stick to restrictive diets, and the alkaline diet is no exception. We'll tell you everything you need to know in this article.
Alkaline Diet: Everything You Need to Know

Last update: 07 December, 2020

There are many different meal plans that you can follow when you’re trying to be healthy. Next, we’ll talk about one of the most controversial: the alkaline diet. It’s a diet that’s boomed in recent years because many celebrities claim to have followed it.

In addition, certain experts said that the alkaline diet was capable of preventing complex diseases such as cancer. They claim it does this by changing the body’s pH. Here, we’ll explain the truth in all this, and if you should follow a diet based on the acid-base balance of nutrients.

The poor scientific basis of the alkaline diet

One of the principles of the alkaline diet is its supposed ability to act and change the acid-base balance of the body. However, the kidneys do this job very well, and it’s impossible to for your diet to do it.

In fact, a small change in blood pH could cause death. Fortunately, this only happens in serious pathological situations or through poisonings with some toxins.

Based on this, the alkaline diet is totally ineffective. However, some of the concepts it proposes can actually be beneficial for your health in both the short or long term, since they aren’t entirely wrong. Let’s take a look at them in more detail.

Benefits of the alkaline diet

The alkaline diet includes lots of fruits and vegetables. Both food groups have been linked to a lower risk of developing complex pathologies, according to research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

A man washing an apple.

In any case, this isn’t due to the ability of vegetables to affect the body’s pH. In fact, it’s because of the antioxidants they have. These nutrients are capable of neutralizing free radicals and keeping the body’s physiological reactions in good shape.

On the other hand, the alkaline diet restricts the consumption of ultra-processed foods. A research study published in BMJ confirms that this kind of food is harmful to health because of its sugars, trans fats and additives.

It’s recommended that your diet is based on the intake of high-quality, fresh food.

Avoid restrictive plans

Although the alkaline diet is built on some good foundations, many of the points it makes are wrong. The best thing to do when planning a diet is to restrict yourself as little as possible and eat a variety of foods. In addition, this will reduce the risk of nutrient deficiencies.

You should only limit toxic products such as alcohol. In addition, it’s possible to reduce the number of certain nutrients such as carbohydrates for people who don’t do a lot of physical activity. Also, it’s best to prioritize fresh food over ultra-processed industrial products.

Outside of these recommendations, it’s good for your health to eat meat, fish, eggs, dairy and vegetables, regardless of their acid-base balance. Don’t forget that it’s also good to use different methods of cooking, and avoid using very high temperatures.

Fried chicken and ketchup on a table.

The alkaline diet, a plan backed by marketing

The alkaline diet has gained many followers because great movie stars claim to have used it to lose weight. In addition, some experts affirm its benefits, even without a solid scientific basis behind it.

If we stick with what the science says, there’s not enough evidence to recommend such a diet plan. In fact, the restrictions it proposes could be counterproductive in the short term, since you might not get enough protein.

Keep in mind that variety is one of the basic principles of a healthy diet, and lifestyle habits also help improve heath. Both tips will be much more useful than trying to vary the acid-base balance of your body, something unlikely and very dangerous.

Finally, always try to avoid “miracle diets” and look for an eating plan that’s easy to stick with and prioritizes fresh foods over ultra-processed ones. Don’t forget to do physical exercise on a regular basis too.

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  • Aune D., Giovannucci E., Boffetta P., Fadness LT.,  et al., Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all cause mortality a systematic review and dose response meta analysis of prospective studies. Int J Epidemiol, 2017. 46 (3): 1029-1056.
  • Srour B., Fezeu LK., Kesse Guyot E., Alles B., et al., Ultra processed food intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: prospective cohort study. BMJ, 2019.