It seems a new diet pops up every other week. With so many weight loss plans surfacing, it can be hard to decide what advice to follow if you're looking to lose weight and improve your overall health.
One of the diets gaining a bit of steam is the alkaline diet. While on its surface this diet may seem to help, certain studies are showing why it may not be the most beneficial:
Importance of Blood pH
Most foods are considered either acidic or alkaline depending on their solubility in water and are assigned a number on the pH scale (zero to 14). The fluids in your body are optimally efficient at a pH between 7.35 and 7.45.
A higher number than 7.45 usually results from an acid-forming diet, emotional stress, toxic overload or any process which deprives cells of nutrients and oxygen. If your blood, saliva, etc. becomes acidic, your normal body function can be disrupted and you'll be more prone to illness. On the reverse end of the spectrum a blood pH of 6.9 or below can induce coma or death.
What is the diet?
In order to balance your bloods pH levels, you'll consume 75 to 80 percent alkaline (low pH) foods. A majority of these foods are vegetables, olive oil, flax oil, almonds and seeds like pumpkin and sesame. Most dieticians recommend you don't cook any of these foods as it can change their pH and cause them to lose their nutritional content. You avoid starches, beans, dairy and drinks like tea, coffee and alcohol.
While most of the diet is vegetarian, meat is still to be consumed (and cooked). It's recommended a person choose leaner cuts of meat such as chicken breast or sirloin as the more fat an object has, the higher the acidity.
What is the appeal?
Most people who try the alkaline diet are looking to improve overall health or alleviate symptoms such as fatigue, frequent colds, headache, insomnia, pain and stress. Some people also choose this diet for weight loss, since it requires you consume lean proteins, fiber and healthy fats. Super-slim celebrities like Victoria Beckham have brought the diet into the spotlight as of late.
Too Good to Be True?
Not much research has pointed to an alkaline diet actually having an effect on any of these symptoms. While decreasing one's intake of fat, white flour, sugar, alcohol and salt is going to be beneficial to one's health, most doctors wouldn't agree with the idea of acid-producing diets leading to chronic illness. In fact, biology can actually pretty easily disprove many of the supposed benefits of an alkalized diet, according to Dr. Gabe Mirkin, author of multiple books, including The Healthy Heart Miracle:
The stomach acid in your body is highly acidic (somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 on the pH scale) making it the ideal place to break down food. Stomach acid pH levels can be affected by the quantity of the food you eat, infection and stress levels but not the acid levels of food.
The byproducts of foods classified either acidic or alkaline have actually nothing to do with the pH of blood in either veins or arteries. In fact, those pH levels are actually different (with venous blood being more acid).
You can only control the acidity of your urine.
While it's beneficial to keep your blood pH in normal range, the alkaline diet isn't going to help you achieve your goal. The moral of the story is be sure to completely research any diet before beginning anything new. While the alkaline diet may not be harmful to your health, all the added effort wouldn't really be worth it.
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