A couple of weeks ago, Kelly Ripa made headlines when she claimed that following the Alkaline Diet helped her recover from a painful injury. While the alkaline diet is not new, it’s definitely catching fire. The diet theory is based on the idea that when our bodies consume too many high-acidic foods, it throws our pH off. As a result, it’s recommended to eat more alkaline foods to balance out body’s pH. This generally means decreasing red meat, alcohol, and sugar and increasing fruits and veggies.
The main reason why the alkaline diet is a bunch of bologna is that our bodies have natural buffers to regulate our pH. There is NO science behind this alkaline diet. Wait. Correction: there is a lot of science…proving that this diet is just a fad. Here are two important physiological examples identifying the ways our bodies naturally regulate pH:
(1) The pH of chyme (food as it enters the intestines) is very acidic at approximately 2.
As part of digestion, our food’s pH decreases to 2 (extremely acidic) as it exits the stomach. It triggers our body’s secretion of sodium bicarbonate to raise the pH to 7 for further breakdown and absorption of nutrients in the intestines.
(2) Our blood pH stays within 7.35 – 7.45.
If the foods we ate are strong drivers of our blood pH, we would be dead. Since most of us are alive and blood pH is within range, we can agree that food pH is not a factor.
Let’s pause for 2.5 seconds and think about the recommendations: this diet wants me to eat more fruit and vegetables? And less red meat and alcohol? This sounds like the same health recommendations I’ve heard from every single article or report since the dawn of time. As a society, are we so desperate to ignore the “boring” advice of eating more fruits and vegetables that we need a gimmick like pH motivate us to eat healthier?
Geez, this alkaline diet fad is so basic.
Thomas Ngo, RD