Alkaline Diet: Benefits, What To Eat, And Drawbacks
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Alkaline Diet: Benefits, What to eat, and Drawbacks

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22 February 2023

An Alkaline diet would suggest alternatives to the bagel, cheeseburger, and Chinese takeaway, which are all highly acidic foods. Lunch was skipped due to a presentation but I grabbed a cheeseburger later. For dinner, I gave up and ordered Chinese takeaway and the flavor knocked my socks off!

I had a Delicious Diet™. But as the numbers on my scale climbed ever higher and my energy levels dropped ever lower, I was forced to confront the reality that my Delicious Diet ™ might just be deadly. 

We live in a hyperconnected, always hustling world. We wear burnout like a badge of honour and stress is a constant companion. We are sedentary and eat more processed and ultra-processed foods, with sugar, salt and fat cranked up to eleven.

At the same time, micronutrients played the role of a magician’s attractive assistant and disappeared. These lifestyle choices result in chronic inflammation, sapping our vitality and wreaking havoc on our health. It’s time to fight back.

Alkaline Diet

One weapon in our arsenal against these lifestyle enemies is an Alkaline Diet. For most of us, our association with the word alkaline ended after 8th-grade Chemistry classes. 

However, can this unique diet hold the key to unlocking our body’s intrinsic healing and recovery mechanisms, helping us reclaim our good health?

So what is an alkaline diet?

An alkaline diet refers to a diet which promotes the consumption of ‘alkaline’ foods that would neutralise the excess acidic components in our body and maintain a healthy pH.  

Benefits of the Alkaline diet

Proponents of the alkaline diet tout the numerous health benefits that can be availed by following the diet

  • Increased bone density 
  • Lower risk of muscle spasms and muscle wasting
  • Improved kidney health
  • Lower chance of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and atherosclerosis
  • Prevention of cancer
  • Alleviation of chronic pain and inflammation
  • Elevated levels of growth hormone
  • Lower chance of osteoporosis
  • Better metabolism and weight loss

Also Read: Low Cholesterol Diet: How to Decrease Your Cholesterol Levels Faster

How the Alkaline Diet Works

The alkaline diet is based on the Acid Ash hypothesis. This hypothesis says that the foods that we consume leave a residue or ash in our bodies. This residue may be either acidic or basic(alkaline) in nature. When too much acid ash builds up in our bodies, we may become sick and suffer from diseases. This hypothesis originally came up as a way to explain the pathology of osteoporosis. 

The assumption is that eating alkaline foods- foods that would leave an alkaline residue counters this acid ash buildup and helps to maintain the body’s optimal pH and thus a healthful state. 

However, there is simply no credible evidence to back this hypothesis. The entire basis of this diet is based on a misconception about the pathology of osteoporosis and a misunderstanding about physiology.

What to eat on the Alkaline Diet

Foods that are recommended on the alkaline diet and claimed to be alkaline are-

  • Mushrooms are a part of this diet and are promoted for their nutrient density and taste.
  • Apples, papayas. kiwis, grapes and fresh fruits are highly recommended.
  • Citrus fruits such as grapefruit, lime, lemon and oranges are classified as ‘highly alkaline’.
  • Cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce, kale and other green leafy vegetables should be eaten in high amounts.
  • Root vegetables like turnips and alliums like onions and garlic are promoted.
  • Drink alkaline water and unsweetened fruit juices.
  • Stay away from ‘acidic’ foods such as grains, meat and meat products, milk and milk products and carbonated beverages.

The diet is highly restrictive in nature and thus difficult to follow.

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Potential Drawbacks and Concerns

As far as diets go, the alkaline diet suffers from many drawbacks

  • The reasoning behind the diet is based on a misconception and there is absolutely no scientific rationale behind following an ‘alkaline diet’.
  • There is no evidence that eating ‘acidic’ or ‘alkaline’ foods causes a change in body pH.
  • There is no evidence that salivary or urinary pH is the same as body pH.
  • While severely acidic states and hardly alkaline states are lethal to us, there is no evidence that trying to ‘balance the pH’ has any effect on health outcomes.
  • There is no evidence that an ‘alkaline diet’ may reduce your risk of cancer or be used to treat cancer.
  • Many of the ‘highly alkaline’ foods mentioned in the diet such as citrus, apples and grapes are actually highly acidic in nature.
  • It is a severely restrictive diet that is difficult to implement.
  • It is a severely restrictive diet that causes both macro and micronutrient deficiencies.

Also Read: Best Pre-Workout Meal: 10 Best Foods to Eat Before Workout

Conclusion

Earlier, we had discussed the alkaline diet being a potential weapon in our arsenal in the fight against lifestyle issues such as obesity, stress, inflammation and diseases. However, some weapons are more liable to harm the operator and unfortunately, the alkaline diet is a weapon best suited for someone trying to shoot themself in the foot. The anecdotal benefits of the diet are often difficult to empirically verify and seem coincidental at best. When it comes to testing whether a diet is healthy or not, we must conclude that the Alkaline Diet does not pass the acid test. 

Alkaline Diet Related FAQs

These FAQs should clear any lingering doubts

What is an alkaline breakfast?

An alkaline breakfast is packed with alkaline foods such as oatmeal, fresh fruits, lots of healthy veggies, quinoa, buckwheat, yoghurt and sugar-free smoothies.

What can I drink to alkaline my body?

Water, citrus juice, soy milk, kale smoothies and lots of other drinks have been marketed as alkaline drinks. However, no reputable research backs these claims

Which fruit is most alkaline?

Watermelons, cantaloupes, papayas, kiwis, pears, tangerines etc are claimed to be alkaline fruits. 

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