The alkaline diet is a meal plan that replaces acid-forming foods with alkaline foods.
Also known as the alkaline ash diet, it claims to alter the pH level of your body. The pH level of your body partially determined by the mineral density of the foods you consume. It’s essential to have a balanced pH level to avoid diseases.
When you have foods that can be acidic, like protein, sulfur, and phosphate, your blood becomes more acidic. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables that are rich in calcium, potassium, and magnesium may make your body more alkaline.
Proponents of this diet say that having alkaline foods can make your blood less acidic. They even claim that this diet can combat severe conditions like cancer.
But, are those claims correct? Let’s find out.
This article looks into some research-based facts about the alkaline diet. But before that, you need to get some knowledge about pH.
The pH Level in The Body
The pH level refers to the alkalinity or acidity of the fluids in the body. It ranges from 0 to 14.
If the pH level of your body fluid is from 0 to 6.9, it means the fluid is acidic. Your body fluid is alkaline if the pH level varies from 7.1 to 14. If the value is 7, it goes for neutral.
Human blood is a bit alkaline, with a pH level of 7.36 to 7.44. On the other hand, the pH level of the stomach is 2-3.5, as it is loaded with hydrochloric acid. This acid helps to break down the foods. 
The reason for an abnormal pH level can be ketoacidosis caused by alcohol intake, starvation, or diabetes. [2, 3, 4]
Alkaline Diet: What Does The Research Say?
1. Alkaline Diet and The pH of Your Blood
Having a normal pH level is vital for your health. Your cells might stop working, and you would die if your blood pH falls out of normal range.
It’s kind of impossible for any food to change the pH level of your blood. However, tiny fluctuations may occur within the normal range.
While foods have no effects on your blood pH level, they definitely influence the pH level of your urine. 
One of the main ways your body use to regulate the blood pH is excreting acids in your urine.
It means the pH level of your urine level doesn’t show the overall condition of your health.
2. Link Between A Low pH Level and Cancer
Many people believe that cancer grows in an environment with a low pH level and an alkaline diet may treat or prevent the disease.
However, a study published in 2016 shows there’s no direct link between diet-induced blood acidity and cancer. 
It’s because we know that food doesn’t influence the blood pH.
Besides, cancer cells can even grow in normal body tissue, which can have a pH level of 7.4, and some studies even successfully grew the cancer cells in an alkaline environment. 
And finally, it’s cancer that creates acidic environments, not the acidic environment that causes cancer. Hence, following an alkaline diet may not treat cancer. 
3. Effects of Alkaline Diet on Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a major bone disease that increases the risk of bone fractures. It is a common disease among older people and postmenopausal female.
Proponents of the alkaline diet claim that the alkaline diet helps maintain a constant blood pH level by buffering the acids from the acidic foods you consume.
According to a theory called “acid-ash hypothesis of osteoporosis,” it’s the acid forming food that causes a loss in bone mineral density.
However, this theory ignores an essential part of your body that is responsible for removing acids and regulates the pH level of the body — your kidney.
According to the research published in the Advances in Physiology Education, kidneys can enable your body to regulate the blood pH by producing bicarbonate ions, which neutralize acids in the blood. 
While neutralizing the acids in your blood, the bicarbonate ions create carbon-dioxide that you breathe out.
Besides, a loss in the protein collagen is one of the main drivers of osteoporosis, which was completely ignored by the theory. 
A loss of protein collagen in bone happens due to the lack of two acids — ascorbic acids or vitamin C, and orthosilicic acid. 
There are mixed results in the studies to find the link between dietary acids and bone density.
A 2011 study finds no significant relationship between dietary acids and lower bone density. 
On the other hand, a study published in 2014 shows that lower bone mineral density can happen due to low calcium consumption and high dietary acid intake. 
A study was published in the Nutrition Journal. It shows that there’s no evidence that alkaline diet can protect bone health. 
In fact, a study was published in the Journal of The American College of Nutrition. It shows that a high-protein, acid-forming diet can promote better bone health. 
4. Ancestor Diet and The Formation of Acidity
Some odds were revealed while examining the acid-alkaline theory from both a scientific and evolutionary perspective.
A 2002 research suggests that the central argument behind the alkaline diet was created by 87% of pre-agricultural people who ate alkaline foods. 
Another study published in 2010 suggests that 50% of the pre-agricultural people ate alkaline diets, while the other half followed net acid-forming diets. 
However, as our ancestors remotely switched from one place to another, mostly moving further north of the equator, their diets were mostly acid-forming. 
Although most of our ancestors’ foods were acid-forming, these don’t have much to do with the modern disease. 
Although there are so many controversies regarding whether this diet can control the pH level of the blood, it is quite healthy as it makes you eat more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods.
Alkaline Diet: Foods To Eat and Avoid
The alkaline diet allows you to eat foods that are less acidic, including:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Legumes, such as lentils
If you’re interested in an alkaline diet, you need to avoid these following foods
Any diet that consists of a variety of foods is considered healthy. Removing a certain food group from your regular diet may have an adverse effect on your health.
The alkaline diet is formed based on whole and unprocessed foods, which is definitely healthy. However, it’s benefits have nothing to do with the pH level of your blood.
But, following an alkaline diet can change the pH level of your urine in a healthy way.
If you want to switch to an alkaline diet, make sure you can have enough plant-based protein. Otherwise, this diet might not be suitable for you.
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