Weight loss, improved arthritis and a lower chance of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer are the promises that are made by the alkaline diet. The theory goes like this: certain foods such as meat, white four, refined sugar, caffeine and dairy create an acidic environment in the body, preventing weight loss and causing disease. Foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, soy and nuts are alkaline and therefore promote an alkaline environment in the body, helping us to lose weight and preventing disease.
Sounds great right?
Before you get too excited, let’s look at the science behind this theory: the first major flaw is that the human body has mechanisms in place to very tightly control our pH balance, and it does this regardless of what we eat or drink! Different sections of our body have to be kept at different pH levels in order for us to stay alive: for example the pH of the blood must be within 7.35 to 7.45, while our stomach has an acidic pH of 1.3 – 3.5 to help digest our food.
When following the alkaline diet, one is advised to test the pH of their urine to see how they are progressing on the diet. This is the second major flaw, as well as a waste of time and money: while diet and other metabolic processes can affect the pH level of your urine, what you eat does not determine your blood’s pH level. And the pH of your urine has no effect on weight loss and no correlation with the risk of cancer or any medical conditions.
So is there any benefit to the alkaline diet:
Well of course there will be but not for the reasons it claims. Eliminating white flour products, sugar and eating largely a plant based diet will assist with weight loss and will also help to lower inflammation and chances of developing type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Personally I believe that you can still achieve all of this by keeping some good quality meat and dairy in your diet as well, within moderation.
So the next time someone suggests you try the alkaline diet, you now understand why it is not the magic solution you may have been looking for. That’s because a magic solution does not exist.
Diets will always be popular because they (pretend to) offer solutions that are quick and easy. And that is wherein the problem lies. When it comes to weight loss, most people expect dramatic results within a few days and until they realise that the true solution is in fact a life-long change of lifestyle, diets will remain hotly debated topics.