Can an Alkaline Diet Help Improve Your Health?

Victoria Beckham has been in love with the alkaline diet since 2013, when she tweeted about it; Elle McPherson loves the diet and carries pH strips in her purse to be able to check her body’s alkalinity each day; and Kelly Ripa credits the alkaline diet with changing her life.


What exactly is the alkaline diet that these beautiful people seem to love? And more importantly, can the diet do something for you?


How does an alkaline diet help?

A diet that is more alkaline than acidic can slow aging, and help you maintain muscle tone. It can strengthen your hand in the battle against everything from the common cold and migraine to diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis.The diet does all this by making sure that the foods you eat, once digested, do not end up in the kidneys and liver as acid-forming matter. The lower the renal acid load, the healthier you are.


Medical researchers have determined what foods raise the load on the liver: animal products and all grains. Spinach is one of the healthiest foods because it impedes acid formation in the body. Most vegetables, lemons, coffee, wine and orange juice create an alkaline response in the body, also reducing acid load on the kidneys.


Can you recall the word alkaline from school?

You probably learned in school about how every known material, from aluminum and steel to apples and sunflower oil, has acidic or alkaline characteristics. Alkaline substances, when mixed with water, put out hydroxide ions; they are bitter to the taste and slippery to the touch. Soap is one example of an alkaline.


Acidic substances, on the other hand, are capable of releasing protons and hydrogen ions. These items are sour to the taste, and because they are naturally corrosive, tend to feel astringent to the touch.


Acidity and alkalinity are measured on the pH scale, which runs from zero through 14. Water, which is neither alkaline nor acid, falls in the middle of the scale at 7. Alkalines go higher up the scale; acids go lower. While battery acid, meat and lemon juice are acids, salt, baking soda and liquid drain cleaner possess high levels of alkalinity.


The human body, with its complex organs and processes, doesn’t possess a uniform acidic or alkaline quality throughout; some parts are more acid than others. The alkaline diet doesn’t aim to change the body’s acidity or alkalinity, however, but to reduce acid production. To a point, the less acid your body produces, the less exposure you have to risk of chronic conditions.


Is there scientific support for these ideas?

Scientific research into the alkaline diet is ongoing, and doctors do not yet unreservedly recommend it for everyone. While that merely means no one knows yet if it works for most people, you may be one of those for whom the alkaline diet does work. There is considerable preliminary scientific evidence in support of this diet.


The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: A 2008 study has found that muscle mass is better preserved in old age through a switch to the alkaline diet.

Diabetologia: A 2014 study in this German medical journal has found strong evidence for positive effects of the alkaline diet for diabetes.

The American Journal of Nephrology: A 2015 study finds that kidney failure is far less likely for those on the alkaline diet.

The Journal of Nutrition: A 2016 study of nearly 100,000 people, done over 50 years, has found that those on an alkaline diet are less likely to suffer cardiac arrest.


Is the alkaline diet is safe?

Of course, it would be a good idea to consult with your doctor before you switch to a new diet. Moving toward the alkaline diet, however, is one of the safest dietary adjustments you can make. You don’t have to do anything more drastic than eating more fruits and vegetables, and cutting down on certain foods.  All you need to do is to make sure you get enough of all the food groups.


While the diet is not an accepted treatment for any health condition, its principles align with many well-established dietary guidelines. Not only could the recommended food combinations help improve your health, but the alkaline diet also could be the change you’ve always needed.

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