What Is an Alkaline Diet?
Unlike many other popular diets, the alkaline diet doesn't focus primarily on weight loss. Instead, it's intended to help reduce the risk of diseases by eating specific foods to optimize the body's pH and promote alkalinity. The premise behind the diet is that by avoiding foods that promote acidity, people can also minimize their risks of developing diseases like cancer and obesity, according to Self.
Alkaline vs. Acidic: What's the Difference
To better understand this diet, it's necessary to first understand the basics of pH. This is a measure of how basic (alkaline) or acidic a substance is. It's measured on a scale of zero to 14.
- Anything from zero to 6.9 is acidic
- Anything from 7.1 to 14 is alkaline
- A rating of 7.0 is considered neutral
The diet's underlying theory is this: As we metabolize our food, the by-products left behind are either alkaline or acidic. Proponents of the diet believe that anything acidic can have a negative impact on health, as Self notes. Foods are designated as alkaline or acidic based on how it affects the body. For example, even though lemons are acidic on their own, the human body breaks them down into an alkaline substance. Therefore, lemons are allowed as alkaline foods.
Foods to Avoid on This Diet
Before starting an alkaline diet, it's important to have a good understanding of the foods that should be avoided. These are foods known to cause an acidic response in the body, according to Dr. Axe.com, including:
- Processed foods such as store-bought cookies and cakes, frozen meals, chips and soda
- Dairy products, including milk and cheese
- Alcohol and caffeinated beverages
- Pasta, rice, bread, oats and wheat products
- Processed cereals
- Artificial sweeteners
- Cold cuts
- Peanuts and walnuts
Foods Allowed on This Diet
Alkaline-promoting foods may neutralize those that create acidity in the body, notes Dr. Oz.com Show. These foods include:
- Draft beer (near neutral)
- White and red wine
- Mineral water
- Green beans
Does It Work?
While on this diet, people eat more whole foods. Followers eat primarily a plant-based diet filled with vegetables, fruit, seeds, nuts, beans and some grains. By focusing less on processed foods and eating fewer foods with added sugar and high sodium levels, the alkaline diet does promote healthy eating, according to Self. However, it's important to note that following a highly restricted diet like this one may not be sustainable in the long run, as reported by Good Housekeeping.
Eliminating certain food groups can lead to weight loss. Additionally, by eliminating highly processed foods and high levels of sodium, this diet can be good for heart health, notes WebMD. But for anyone who enjoys lean meats and dairy, the alkaline diet could prove to be very challenging. It's also very important for anyone who follows the alkaline diet to make sure they're getting enough macronutrients and calories.
Finally, there's little scientific evidence supporting the diet's claim to minimize cancer risks. That said, eating more fruits and vegetables can have a positive impact on overall health, according to Self.