Exposing The Alkaline Diet Myth
Now don’t get me wrong, I wish this alkaline diet theory were true, because then it’d be so much easier to prevent or treat common health conditions. But the whole concept is just flawed.
Now proponents of the alkaline diet have attempted to give the foods we eat a pH rating based on the compounds they produce when digested.
In the alkaline diet these compounds are referred to as “ash”. So a food’s ash determines if its classified acidic or alkaline.
This image from MindBodyGreen illustrated this theory, with acidic forming foods on the left, and alkaline on the right.
However, they have very conveniently left out the nutritious foods on the acidic side, like meat, seafood, dairy, legumes, nuts and some whole grains…
But as you could see the so called “alkaline” foods are really good for you. Because they’re vegetables and fruits and water, which are nutritious and generally not calorie-dense.
But their health properties have got nothing to do with alkaline ash.
In fact acids are actually some of the most important building blocks of life… including amino acids, fatty acids and even your DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid).
So what does the research say about the alkaline diet?
A review of 55 previous studies that looked at the relationship between how much dietary acid we consume and occurrence of osteoporosis concluded “there is no evidence an alkaline diet is protective of bone health.”
This makes sense considering high protein diets (which are acid forming) are typically linked with healthier bones, not weaker bones.
What about cancer, which favors acidic environments?
Firstly, as mentioned earlier what we eat cannot influence blood pH or other bodily tissues.
Secondly, even if we assume it could, cancer cells are able to grow in alkaline environments as well.
Tumors do grow faster in acidic environments, but the tumor actually creates this acidity itself.
So it’s not the acidic environment – or diet – that creates the cancer, it’s the cancer that creates the acidic environment.
A 2016 review focused on the possible link between dietary acid load, alkaline water and cancer. The authors concluded that despite the promotion of the alkaline diet and alkaline water by the media and salespeople, there is almost no actual research to either support or disprove these ideas. Therefore promotion of the alkaline diet and alkaline water to the public for cancer prevention or treatment is not justified.
Now where there is lack of evidence for or against a claim, the onus of proof always falls on the party making spectacular claims.
That mean we must always first assume a food or nutrient DOESN’T help, until there is solid evidence to indicate otherwise.
Now in another earlier review study looking at acid load and cancer, the authors concluded that there is limited evidence to suggest that dietary acidosis alone is sufficient in increasing cancer risk, but it may function in concert with other factors associated with cancer risk, such as obesity.
Interestingly this particular study was funded by the National Centers for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and yet that was the most positive spin they could put on these findings because the evidence just isn’t there.
All that said, the alkaline diet does encourage a high consumption of fruits and vegetables, while restricting junk foods. So it’s pretty healthy, and you won’t be unhealthy for following it.
But has absolutely nothing to do with being acidic or alkaline.
Further reading: https://authoritynutrition.com/the-alkaline-diet-myth/
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STUDY 1: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21529374
STUDY 2: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27297008
STUDY 3: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22853725
Image 1: http://www.edu.pe.ca/gulfshore/Archives/ACIDSBAS/phscale2.jpg
Image 2: www.mindbodygreen.com
Image 3: https://anaximperator.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/kim-tinkham-1-robert-young-website-2010-12-08-at-10-28-57-am1.png