Health food junkies, hold onto your hats: the alkaline diet myth is about to be revealed.
Have you heard about the benefits of eating an alkaline diet? Perhaps (like me) you've even tried out this way of eating in search of better health?
Many alternative health professionals assert that we can influence the pH balance in our bodies (acidic vs. alkaline) by eating a mostly vegetarian diet without sugar and refined carbohydrates. Advocates of alkaline diets claim that this style of eating lowers incidences of cancer, prevents bone loss and kidney stones, and makes certain chronic diseases less likely.
Guess what. None of these health claims have actually been proven.
After my first child was born, I discovered The Body Ecology Diet and became convinced that I was on my way to an early grave unless I could shift my body's pH balance by eating mostly alkalizing foods. While eating more cultured foods and less processed foods certainly helped to turn my health around, I feel it's only fair to shed some light upon the alkaline diet myth.
Normal pH in the human body
Your pH measures how acidic or alkaline things are, with 0 being most acidic and 14 being most alkaline. A pH of 7 is neutral.
The pH of the human body varies depending on the body part it’s associated with.
For example, our stomachs must be acidic in order to digest food, with pH ranging from 1.35 – 5. Blood, on the other hand, is slightly alkaline with a pH of 7.35 – 7.45. A woman's vagina is generally acidic, but becomes more alkaline around ovulation, making it more hospitable to sperm.
Your body’s pH is NOT impacted by diet
Our bodies maintain pH levels – regardless of diet – because our survival is entirely dependent on it.
Folks who think they are monitoring their body's pH balance will often perform urine tests. While foods may impact the pH of urine (output of waste), they won’t affect the pH of blood or other vital body parts unless you are very, very ill.
So those pee sticks are not telling you a thing about the pH of your insides. (source)
As with any sensible, nutrient-dense diet, an “alkaline” diet discourages eating processed foods and refined sugars. It also encourages eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and staying hydrated.
That all sounds perfectly fine, and for folks in need of a more cleansing diet due to disease or obesity – a lean toward greens and other veggies may a smart move.
But, contrary to the recommendations of the alkaline diet, protein and animal fat will not turn your body into a toxic vat of acid. In fact, regardless of what you eat, it is very unlikely that you will affect your body's acid/alkaline balance at all.
But diet still matters
The moral of the story is not to go out and eat a big mac and fries washed down with a super-sized coke. Do that enough, and it will kill you regardless of your body's ability to maintain pH balance.
But by all means, enjoy a grass fed burger or steak, and top it with cheese from pasture-raised cows and bacon from properly raised pigs. Don't feel guilty in the slightest – unless you're not sharing with me!
Now that we've determined that meat will not deteriorate your health by making you too acidic, hop over to these posts and to learn:
- Why grassfed beef is good for you
- Why butter (from pasture-raised cows) is a superfood
- And why you should celebrate your secret love for bacon
In my next post I will dispel other popular meat myths including: why meat does not “rot in your stomach” and why eating lots of animal protein will not kill you.
Stay tuned! And be sure to share with your meat fearing family and friends.
Have you tried an alkaline diet?
Share your experience in the comments below.