The alkaline diet is also known as the acid-alkaline diet or the alkaline ash diet. It is based around the idea that the foods you eat keep an “ash” residue after they have been metabolized. This ash can is an acid or alkaline.
Proponents of this diet claim that certain foods can affect the acidity and alkalinity of body fluids, including urine and blood. If you eat foods with an acid ash, they make the body acidic. If you eat foods with an alkaline ash, they make the body alkaline.
Acid ash is thought to make you susceptible to diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis, and muscle wasting, whereas alkaline ash is regarded to be protective. To ensure you stay alkaline, it is recommended that you keep track of your urine using handy pH test strips.
For those who do not completely understand human physiology and are not health professionals, diet claims like this sound rather convincing. However, is it really true? The following will debunk this myth and clear up some confusion regarding the alkaline diet.
But first, it is necessary to understand the meaning of the pH value. Put simply, the pH value is a measure of how acidic or alkaline something is. The pH value ranges from 0 to 14.
0-7 is acidic
7 is neutral
7-14 is alkaline
For example, the stomach is loaded with highly acid hydrochloric acid, a pH value between 2 and 3.5. The acidity helps kill germs and break down food.
On the other hand, the human blood is always a little bit alkaline, with a pH of between 7.35 to 7.45. Normally, the body has several effective mechanisms (discussed later) to keep the blood pH within this range. Falling out of it is very serious and can be fatal. Foods leave behind acid or alkaline ash. Acid ash contains phosphate and sulfur. Alkaline ash contains calcium mineral, magnesium, and potassium. Certain food groups are considered acidic, fairly neutral, or alkaline.
Acidic: Meats, fish, dairy, egg, grains, and alcohol.
Neutral: Fats, starches, and sugars.
Alkaline: Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes.
Foods you eat change the pH of your urine. If you have a green smoothie for breakfast, your urine, in a few hours, will be more alkaline than if you had bacon and eggs.
For someone on an alkaline diet, urine pH can be very easily monitored and may even provide instant gratification. Unfortunately, urine pH is neither a good indicator of the overall pH of the body nor is it a good indicator of general health.
Foods you eat do not change your blood pH. When you eat something with an acid ash like protein, the acids produced are quickly neutralized by bicarbonate ions in the blood. This reaction produces co2, which is exhaled through the lungs, and salts, which are excreted by the kidneys in your urine.
During the process of excretion, the kidneys produce new bicarbonate ions, which are returned to the blood to replace the bicarbonate that was initially used to reduce the effects of the acid. This creates a sustainable cycle in which the body is able to take care of the pH of the blood within a tight range.
Therefore, as long as your kidneys are functioning normally, your blood pH will not be influenced by the foods you eat, whether they are acidic or alkaline. The report that consuming alkaline meals will make your body or blood pH more alkaline is not true.
Alkaline Diet and Cancer
Those who advocate an alkaline diet claim that it can cure cancer because cancer can only develop in an acidic environment. By eating an alkaline diet, cancer cells cannot develop but die.
This hypothesis is very flawed. Cancer is perfectly capable of increasing in an alkaline environment. In fact, cancer grows in regular body tissue which has a little alkaline pH of 7.4. Many experiments have confirmed this by successfully growing cancer cells in an alkaline environment.
However, cancer cells do develop faster with acidity. Once a tumor starts to develop, it creates its own acid environment by breaking down glucose and reducing circulation. Therefore, it is not the acidic environment that causes cancer but cancer that causes the acidic environment.
In short, there is no scientific link between eating an acidic diet and cancer. Cancer cells can develop in both acidic and alkaline environments.
Alkaline Diet and Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a progressive bone disease characterized by a decrease in bone mineral content, leading to lowered bone strength and density and a higher risk of a broken bone.
Proponents of the alkaline diet believe that to keep a constant blood pH, the body takes alkaline minerals like calcium from the bones to reduce the effects of the acids from an acidic diet. As mentioned above, this is absolutely not true. The kidneys and the respiratory system are responsible for regulating blood pH, not the bones.