The Alkaline Diet

Hi friends.

TGI….almost…F?

Yeah. Let’s say that. It is good to look on the bright side, right?

Cute

You know that game some people play at dinner called “the peak and the pit“? If not, it is where everyone goes around and says the peak(highlight) and pit (not-so-good part) of their day. Let’s play. I’ll go first.

Peak: my micronutrient exam is over! My bed is calling my name for the rest of the day.

Pit: I feel like I got hit by a bus. I don’t know if it is the consistent 3 hours of sleep per night, season change or what, but what I do know is I am getting sick. Horrible!

Needless to say, today will be filled with a marathon session of The Great Baker (I just love Buddy!) and doing some research for all of you lovelies out there. =] I am super excited about this topic because it is something that I have been wanting to talk about for a while but knew I needed a good amount of time for it.

Today’s topic is…. drum roll please….. The Alkaline Diet!

Like I said, I have been wanting to do this post for a while. Yesterday I was looking through my e-mails and saw an article from The AND (remember, this is THE MAN in the dietetic world) on the alkaline diet trend. Perfect! It is like they know me or something…creepy.

The alkaline diet is the latest thing in the diet-world. Basically this diet turns acid into the newest dietary villain. The belief behind this is that diets high in acid-producing foods disrupt pH balance in the body causing essential mineral loss. Due to this supposed mineral loss, alkaline-dieters believe that this causes an increase in illness, even chronic illnesses (not just your common cold!). In other words… Acid makes you sick.

It is no secret that the Western diet has accumulated more foods that are acid producing. Also, consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables has declined, making the Western diet acid-producing.

(Here is a list of foods and their acidity so you get a better idea: http://www.phmiracleliving.com/t-food-chart.aspx)

Is there any validity to this? Not really.

It is common knowledge that increasing fruits & veggies and decreasing salt, meat and refined grains will provide health benefits. This is typically done in the alkaline diet but the reason behind it is based on pH. While they are incorporating healthy habits, it is not actually for the right reason. Most doctors don’t believe that acidic diets cause chronic illness/disease.

“It’s good advice based on a bogus premise. No matter what you eat, the pH of your blood is going to stay the same.” says a professor of medicine and chief of the department of clinical nutrition at UCLA.  The body is pretty good at controlling acid balance with food.

The most popular disease being talked about that can be off-set by this diet is cancerUniversity of Arizona Cancer Center shows large doses of alkaline substances, such as sodium bicarbonate, might be able to slow some cancers. While they support that fact, they don’t deny that there is a big difference between sodium bicarbonate and an alkaline diet. “I would be skeptical of anyone making outright claims that acidic foods promote cancer,” states en employee.

Vicki Edgson is the author of the cookbook “Eating the Alkaline Way“. She is a strong believer in the diet and thinks it will fight illness.“I’m not saying the diet is a cure for arthritis,” she adds, “but if you give the body what it responds best to, it works phenomenally.” I agree with this, as will most people. Her book includes indisputable healthful meals. She provides a list of foods and beverages with their relative alkalinity/acidity for readers. One thing to take note of here is that the book does not provide sources of information…. red flag.

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There are also products that are based on the alkaline diet. Smooth 8 is a line of water drops that are highly alkaline. You put a few in your glass of water and they supposedly “neutralize body acidity” and “help flush acid and toxins from the body“. The founder, Keven Suttle says that acid-causing foods lead to obesity because the body puts on layers of fat to protect itself. He also says that many tumors can grow only in acidic environments.

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In conventional medicine there is evidence, however, that alkaline diets may help prevent the formation of calcium kidney stones, osteoporosis, and age-related muscle wasting.

The verdict

While this diet incorporates a lot of good ideas, such as incorporating more fruits & veggies, there is a major lack in evidence of its tie to changing body acidity to protect against diseases. There is a misunderstanding of physiology. The idea that people could slim down by alkalizing their bodies is ridiculous. So, why is this certain way of eating gaining so much momentum? It just goes back to show you how people will truly try anything, especially to lose weight.

Our bodies have an amazing ability to maintain a steady pH in the blood. Membranes in our body require an acid pH to protect us and to help us digest food. It would be prudent to consider an alkaline diet to reduce morbidity and mortality of chronic disease that are plaguing our aging population

In response to the hottest topic related to the alkaline diet:

There is no scientific literature establishing the benefit of an alkaline diet for the prevention of cancer at this time.

A grain of truth

While there is no evidence in this diet fighting disease, it is true that a diet can change the pH of urine (not blood!) and urine that’s too acidic can put a person at risk for kidney stones.  Muscle wasting also seems to be reduced with an alkaline diet and back pain may benefit from this as well. An alkaline environment may improve the efficacy of some chemotherapy agents but not others.

 The alkaline diets may result in a number of health benefits as outlined below

  1. Increased fruits and vegetables in an alkaline diet would improve the K/Na ratio and may benefit bone health, reduce muscle wasting, as well as mitigate other chronic diseases such as hypertension and strokes.
  2. The resultant increase in growth hormone with an alkaline diet may improve many outcomes from cardiovascular health to memory and cognition.
  3. An increase in intracellular magnesium, which is required for the function of many enzyme systems, is another added benefit of the alkaline diet. Available magnesium, which is required to activate vitamin D, would result in numerous added benefits in the vitamin D apocrine/exocrine system
  4. Alkalinity may result in added benefit for some chemotherapeutic agents that require a higher pH.

To sum up this lengthy post… The recommendations of the diet is good, but the basis of it is not.

Thursday giraffe friday coming

Sources

http://altmedicine.about.com/od/popularhealthdiets/a/alkalinediet.htm http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3195546/ http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/la-he-1026-alkaline-20131026,0,2567147.story

http://www.phmiracleliving.com/t-food-chart.aspx

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