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The Alkaline Diet – The True Science behind it.

The Alkaline Diet

The alkaline diet, whose celebrity fans reportedly include Gywneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston and Victoria Beckham, is based on the idea that our modern eating habits cause our bodies to ingest and produce too much acid. Some internet based sources claim that excess acid in the body is turned into fat, leading to weight gain. Others claim that a diet high in acid-producing foods leads to metabolic imbalance, promoting mineral loss and illness as the body tries to restore equilibrium. High acidity levels have also been blamed on health conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, tiredness, kidney and liver disorders.  Is this diet antidote for weight loss and various health issues?  Achieve improved health and balance by eating a more alkaline diet according to some “diet experts”.   

What’s entailed?

The diet recommends cutting back on acid-producing foods such as meat, wheat and other grains, refined sugar, dairy products, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods.  The alkaline diet, whose prescribed ratio is 80% alkaline-forming foods and 20% acid-forming foods, is said to reduce inflammation and increase resistance against disease.  The theory behind the alkaline diet is that eating certain foods can help maintain the body’s ideal pH balance (acidity levels) to improve overall health.  The approach recommends more “alkaline” based foods such as vegetables instead.


The alkaline diet has some positives:  healthier portion sizes of lean meat, the avoidance of sugar, alcohol and processed foods and eating more fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils. This overall calorie intake is reduced by eating healthier –   which is the mainstay of standard weight loss advice!

The true science

The supporters of the Alkaline diet claim that the foods we consume can change the body’s pH (acid:base balance). The fact remains is that the pH of each cell within the body and blood pH must stay tightly controlled at pH 7.4  to sustain life.  The reality of the matter is that the mechanism behind the diet are NOT supported by evolutionary evidence, human physiology or any reliable study in humans. The body can maintain it’s own pH balance, regardless of the diet consumed.  Some versions of the diet advise on cutting out entire food groups completely e.g. dairy products.  This practice is unnecessary and should be avoided as it can have negative consequences for long-term bone health.

However, the pH of urine does vary and predictably so depending upon food choices. An article published in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, caffeine, sugar, and salt are the most acid forming and will cause the urine to become more acidic.  Conversely fruits and vegetables cause the urine to become more alkaline, grains are slightly acid forming and legumes vary by type. In summary, the alkaline diet lacks sound scientific research to support its use for weight loss and illness prevention.   The plan advocated unnecessarily avoiding some foods and food groups, which can cause the diet to become unbalanced and potentially lead to nutritional deficiencies over time.