Publication date November 27, 2023

If Water is the Base Drink, then What is the Base Food?

Have you also heard the buzz about the alkaline diet but don’t what is it exactly? Or whether is it worth all the hype? I have been curious about knowing more about alkaline diets for a while now. When I googled it or asked someone I heard all kinds of things about it, some good and some bad.

The alkaline diet became popular with its celebrity followers. Big stars like Victoria Beckham, Kate Hudson, and Tom Brady said that they’ve tried the diet with positive results. Since then, the alkaline diet has become a much more common thing.

Plant based diet

But, to be honest I’ve never really been able to find out if it’s healthy. 

So, I decided to go deeper into this topic and find all the answers. 

Okay, let me tell you what it is so the alkaline diet is all about eating foods that have a low pH level. This means that they are more alkaline, or basic than acidic. The idea is that eating these alkaline foods can help to balance the regular pH levels in your body, which can lead to some health benefits.

But is there any research to support these claims? Let’s find everything below!

What Is the Alkaline Diet, Exactly?

In simple terms, the alkaline diet is based on the theory that some foods cause your body to produce acid, which is harmful.

The alkaline diet suggests that by eating certain foods or drinking certain types of beverages one can change the body’s acid level also called its pH level. The pH scale simply measures how acidic or basic something is, on a scale of 0-14. 

The pH scale measures how acidic or basic something is, on a scale of 0-14. Food with a pH below 7 is considered acidic, while those with a pH above 7 are considered alkaline food. There is a hope that changing the body’s pH level can improve your overall health and help you lose weight. 

How does an Alkaline Diet Work?

When it comes to how an alkaline diet works, the diet classifies foods according to how much acid they produce when digested in your body. Although, that amount isn’t necessarily the same as the acidity level of foods in their raw state.

Acid-forming foods or highly acidic foods produce a pH lower than 7, while research has found that alkaline foods result in a pH level greater than 7.  Additionally, any foods that are around 7 are considered neutral. With these basics in mind, the alkaline diet recommends: 

  • Avoid acid-forming foods, like meat, dairy, fish, eggs, grains, and alcohol. 
  • Eat plenty of alkaline-forming foods or alkaline-ash diet, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes
  • Limit neutral foods, such as starches, sugars, and natural fats

But, it is important to keep in mind that there is no research to indicate that the pH of food has any impact on your overall health. Also, there is plenty of evidence that shows it simply is not possible to change the body’s pH through diet.

PH levels in our body vary based on the part of the body for instance the stomach is highly acidic and it needs to be able to perform its job. 

What food to eat in Alkaline Diet?

According to a report in Today’s Dietitian, the alkaline diet mainly focuses on fruits and vegetables, ensuring at least 80% of your food choices are alkaline-forming.

In short, these are alkaline-promoting foods to give special importance to: 

  • Water
  • Seeds and nuts 
  • Fruits and vegetables 
  • Healthy oils like avocado or olive oil 
  • Soybeans, tofu, beans
  • Herbal and green teas

These are the foods to limit or avoid on an alkaline diet:

  • Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese and eggs
  • Meat, fish, pork and chicken
  • Processed foods, like canned and packaged snacks
  • Refined grains, such as white bread, white rice, and white-flour tortillas 
  • Alcohol and caffeine
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Candy and desserts 

What are the health benefits of an Alkaline diet?

Many followers and authors of the many guides and books about alkaline diet state that it can treat diseases and chronic conditions, including major diseases such as cancer and kidney disease.

alkaline diet

According to the National Library of Medicine, there is no substantial evidence that an alkaline diet improves bone health or protects you from osteoporosis. However, this diet may result in several health benefits.

From a scientific point of view, these claims aren’t realistic, says Adrienne Youdium, MD, an associate professor of medicine at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine in Los Angeles. 

But, she also says that foods listed as alkaline tend to be healthy, and when you look at it,  you can reasonably say that eating these foods is a healthy approach. 

Even though alkaline diets have been widely studied, there aren’t any studies in support that this approach can affect cancer, which can be one of the biggest draws of this diet.  Here is what research has additionally found about the alkaline diet and many chronic health conditions:

Bone Health

The alkaline diet is often associated with claims that it can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, but more research is needed to fully evaluate these claims. 

The theory is known as the “acid-ash hypothesis of osteoporosis,” which claims that eating an acid-rich diet can cause acid-based disorders such as weakening the bones and leading to osteoporosis by enhancing calcium in the urine and reducing calcium in the body. 

However, another prior review and meta-analysis found no link between acidic diets and bone disease, either positive or negative.

Cancer Prevention

In 2019, there was a preliminary study published in the International Journal of Cancer that found alkaline diets may have a protective benefit against hormone receptor-negative–breast cancer, but most of the research has been inconclusive. 

Most studies do agree that by eating less meat and more fruits and veggies we may reduce breast cancer risk.

However, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) doesn't support claims about cancer and the alkaline diet, adding that the acidity and alkalinity of foods aren’t essential when it comes to human body chemistry.

Instead, they state that eating a largely plant-based diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is a healthy approach that can reduce the risk of cancer and chronic diseases. So, the alkaline diet may be a good approach for people fighting cancer, but not for the reasons given by followers of it.

Chronic Kidney Disease 

In an article published in 2017 in the Journal of Renal Nutrition, the author, Caroline Passey, BSc, RD, Ph.D., argued that by reducing acid load to the kidneys through a low protein diet, you may be able to lower your risk of kidney disease and kidney function. 

But, in another research published in 2018 in the Iranian Journal of Kidney Diseases suggests that an alkaline diet may help slow down the decline of kidney function.

Heart Health 

A 2012 review published in the Journal of Environment and Public Health found that achieving pH balance by eating more alkaline foods, like fruits and veggies may help reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke. 

What are the Pros and Cons of Alkaline Diet?

Aside from these health benefits of the alkaline diet, below are a few more pros and cons of this diet, so you can decide whether you should go for this diet or not:

Pros of the Alkaline Diet

1. Similar to Plant Based diet 

Because it’s similar to a plant-based diet, it is supported by research in reducing the risk for several health conditions, such as heart disease and some types of cancers. Additionally, it can also improve bone health by controlling blood sugar levels and maintaining body weight. 

2. It might lower your Risk of Kidney Disease

Many studies have shown that a higher protein intake can increase the risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD). To maintain this condition, it is suggested that one should consume less meat, chicken, and fish, and more plant-based foods, including fruits and vegetables.

Also, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, eating more alkaline-promoting food such as fruits and vegetables and less animal-based protein is considered a healthy diet change, 

Cons of the Alkaline Diet

1. It's Very Restrictive

Depending on what alkaline food you select, this diet can lead to a lack of essential vitamins and nutrients and insufficient calorie and protein intake. It can also be challenging for many people to follow this diet for a longer time as this diet is so restrictive. 

2. There's Not Much Research to Support It

The biggest drawback of this diet is that there isn’t much research and evidence to support it. Following such a restrictive diet without sufficient supported scientific evidence makes it not the best plan for your health.

The Final Question: Is an alkaline diet Good for you?

The alkaline diet is good for you due to its focus on whole and unprocessed foods. But, when it comes to the claims that it improves health by changing pH levels aren’t supported by reliable studies. While a low protein version may benefit people with chronic kidney disease, no evidence suggests effects on pH levels.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What does Alkaline mean?

Alkaline refers to the idea that certain types of foods can change the pH levels of the body. The pH scale is a measure of how acidic or alkaline food is. The level ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. A pH below 7 is considered acidic, while a pH above 7 is considered alkaline.

Q. What are the top 10 Alkaline foods?

Here are the top 10 alkaline foods: 

  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Apricot
  • Blueberries
  • Lemon
  • Mango
  • Medjool Dates
  • Peach
  • Eggplant
  • Broccoli

Q. What is the fastest way to Alkalize your body?

There is no research that mentions the fastest way to alkalize your body. Alkalization is a gradual process and involves a combination of dietary and lifestyle changes. However, here are some general tips that can help to promote an Alkalization in your body:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat alkaline-promoting foods
  • Avoid and Limit acidic foods
  • Exercise regularly

Q. How long should I do Alkaline food?

Well, it’s not easy to answer the question of how long you should follow an alkaline diet, as it depends on your reason or goal to do this diet. But, many experts recommend following an alkaline diet for at least 2-3 weeks to start, to give your body time to adjust. After this initial period, you can slowly increase the proportion of alkaline foods in your diet.

Q. Is alkaline water good for you?

Yes, drinking alkaline water can be a good approach for your health. In support, one study of 100 healthy adults concluded that alkaline water was twice as hydrating as regular water after exercise. Although, it can be a bit expensive, but may be worth a try. 

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