Alkaline Diet, Alkaline Ash Diet, Alkaline Acid Diet and Acid Ash Diet are the various names of diets that come under the umbrella of alkaline diets. The premise these diets are based on is that certain foods can affect the acidity or pH of the body, helping prevent the onset of diseases and even treat them. Robert Young wrote a book The pH Miracle in 2010 which put it on the map. This was followed by a photograph that Victoria Beckham tweeted with The Alkaline Diet Cookbook in 2013, and Kate Hudson’s book in 2016 Pretty Happy: Healthy Ways to Love Your Body that added to the hype and interest for this style of eating. Adding to its health benefits of protection against cancer and arthritis, what shot it to fame was the universal pitch that never fails -weight loss!
According to the proponents of this diet, acidity causing foods lead to an increased risk of diseases and an alkaline diet cleanses and protects your body. An alkaline diet allows you to eat:
- Raw Foods
- Plant Proteins
- Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
- Alkaline water
- Green Drinks
- Foods that cause an acidic environment that must be avoided:
- High Sodium foods
- Processed Cereals
- Cold cuts and processed meats
- Peanuts, Walnuts
- Oats and whole wheat
- Pasta, rice, bread, packaged grain products
- Caffeinated drinks and alcohol
The thinking is that foods that produce acid ash lead to the breakdown of bones to offset the extra acid in the body leading to an increased risk of osteoporosis, while alkaline ash foods decrease this risk. This is based on a position statement of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics published in the US National Academy of Science publication. This and other scientific publications have also stated that a diet high in potassium and magnesium such as fruits and vegetables may decrease the risk of osteoporosis because of an increase in alkaline ash production. Recent meta analyses of this hypothesis have not found any significant correlation as suggested.
pH is a short form of potential of Hydrogen. It measures the alkalinity or acidity on a scale of 0-14. Fact is that the pH balance of human blood remains in the range of 7.35-7.45. Anything above leads to alkalosis and below causes acidosis. Both these states are potentially dangerous for us. The mechanisms of our body ensures this does not happen by maintaining the acid-base homeostasis. So medically there isn’t much you can do in terms of food and drinks to affect it.
So Does this Diet Work?
Alkaline diet encourages larger intakes of whole fruits, vegetables and unprocessed foods, all of which are rich sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These nutrients are very beneficial for a healthy body; their positive effect for general health and heart health, diabetes control and weight management is well documented. They are low sources of calories and high on nutrient quotient.
Processed meats and foods do not contribute much health to our meals, in fact a shift from fresh food ingredients to packaged foods and processed foods is one of the main culprits for a lot of our present day health problems. Fat and sugar are also restricted, which is a great if you are counting calories.
Cutting out complete food groups from your daily meals is not a healthy option. Each food group adds important nutrients for our body to function optimally. This diet cuts out protein rich foods, so essential for our daily living, from the diet. Fresh meat, poultry, lentils and legumes are all essential for not only their protein content but also essential nutrients like phosphorus, folate, and healthy fats from fishes.
Being a vegan diet program it is limited in food choices. This makes it difficult to follow and also limits it as a lifestyle choice for long periods of time.
Alkaline diet does not address a major factor for healthy weight loss and healthy living – exercise. Everyone is aware of the benefits of regular exercise. All medical and health advisories recommend 150 minutes of exercise each week. For a diet touted majorly as a weight loss diet it misses out on the most important factor.
This diet is not sustainable and we know that losing weight just once is not enough, we need to keep it off . This can only be achieved through a good diet and exercise. Cancer patients need a nourishing diet to tolerate treatments and cutting out major food groups doesn’t help.
There are no shortcuts to health, adopting a healthy lifestyle for life is the only way to go!