The Alkaline Diet has received praise from everyone, including stars like Victoria Beckham, Kate Hudson, and Jennifer Aniston, but what is it, and how does it work?
Also known as the Alkaline Ash Diet and the Alkaline Acid Diet, the Alkaline Diet has been the subject of everything from books to tweets for years.
The Alkaline Diet, Explained
The idea espoused by psychic Edgar Cayce in the 1930s and 1940s was that certain foods can change the pH of the body. This is central to the Alkaline Diet. Though this idea isn’t backed up by research, many people claim putting the body in an alkaline state promotes health and a healthy weight.
Vegetables and citrus fruits are among the foods that put the body in an alkaline state, the diet’s adherents say, and many of them drink lemon water or celery juice first thing in the morning to begin the day in an alkaline state.
In the Alkaline Diet, a pH level of 0 is very acidic, 7 is neutral, and 14 is highly alkaline.
Cayce advised making about 80 percent of daily meals alkaline and about 20 percent acidic, limiting foods such as meat and dairy products.
What Foods Can You Eat on the Alkaline Diet
Most of the foods on the Alkaline Diet are nutrient-dense and low in calories. They include many fruits and vegetables including:
Seeds and nuts
Wine in moderation
What Foods Should You Avoid
While the Alkaline Diet includes unlimited amounts of some fruits and vegetables, some foods are not included in the Alkaline Diet. Acidic foods should be limited or enjoyed in moderation.
These include processed foods and foods that are high in sodium and saturated fat. These include:
Coffee (in moderation due to acidity)
Grains and cereals
Sweetbreads such as muffins and doughnuts
Does the Alkaline Diet Work
Adherents to the Alkaline Diet say that weight loss is a side effect of the eating plan. The main goal of the Alkaline Diet is to prevent diseases such as cancer and kidney disease, although there isn’t proof that the Alkaline Diet will do that.
However, there is an overlap between the healthy, whole foods of the Alkaline Diet and the Mediterranean Diet, and a 2014 study published in the International Journal of Cancer suggests a Mediterranean Diet may reduce the risk of cancer. Also, it has been proven that reduced meat consumption lowers the risk of breast cancer.
Other studies have shown that eating a diet rich in vitamin-packed, fiber-filled vegetables and fruits reduces the risk of heart disease and increases memory and cognition. Fruits and vegetables high in potassium and magnesium help to boost muscle mass.
Following the Alkaline Diet means starting the day with warm lemon water, enjoying fruit for breakfast, having a large, crisp salad for lunch, and roasted vegetables for dinner with a glass of wine. Following this diet carefully will easily result in weight loss since most of the foods on the Alkaline Diet are low in calories.
The Alkaline Diet includes very little sugar, which also helps in weight loss.
How Are Foods Cooked
There’s no frying allowed on the Alkaline Diet, but foods can be eaten steamed. The Alkaline Diet encourages eating raw foods, so no cooking is required for sliced apples and spinach salads.
Does the Alkaline Diet Have Any Risks or Side Effects
One of the drawbacks to the Alkaline Diet is that researchers have not proven that eating a diet rich in alkaline foods can change the pH of the body. Here are a few other drawbacks to the Alkaline Diet.
Healthy Foods Are Among Those Excluded
Understandably, processed foods such as potato chips and doughnuts wouldn’t be part of the Alkaline Diet. However, there are plenty of healthy foods that are not part of the Alkaline Diet. These include low-fat milk, cottage cheese, eggs, brown rice, lentils, poultry, fish, and yogurt.
You May Be Hungry
The Alkaline Diet does include unlimited amounts of fruits and vegetables, but since the diet is low in fat and protein, some may find that they get hungry while staying on the Alkaline Diet.
The Bottom Line
Strictly following the Alkaline Diet may not be for everyone, but a relaxed version of the Alkaline Diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables but also healthy foods such as lean meats and fish, low-fat milk and dairy products, yogurt, cottage cheese, whole grains, and eggs is a healthy option that’s easier to follow.
While the Alkaline Diet is not a weight loss plan, those who follow it will lose weight. This comes with the possible risk of not having adequate protein and calcium. Those on the Alkaline Diet may find it difficult to follow because they get hungry, but the diet doesn’t call for any difficult recipes or items that you can’t find at your local supermarket.
Research doesn’t support claims that the Alkaline Diet will change the pH of the body, but eating more fruits and vegetables, fewer processed foods, and less sugar will lead to a healthier lifestyle and make weight loss likely.
Gerry K. Schwalfenberg, The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Health? retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3195546/
Melanie Peters, pHear pHactor: Debunking the Alkaline Diet, retrieved from https://health.ucsd.edu/news/features/Pages/2019-05-06-pHear-pHactor-debunking-the-alkaline-diet.aspx
Kellie Bramlet Blackburn, The alkaline diet: What you need to know, retrieved from https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/the-alkaline-diet--what-you-need-to-know.h18-1592202.html