Should You Follow the Alkaline Diet?

What is it and is it right for you?

Updated on January 06, 2023

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Photo by: Richard Drury/Getty Images

Richard Drury/Getty Images

Wondering if you should you follow the Alkaline Diet? Here's what you need to know before you trying it out.

The theory behind this plan is that if you consume loads of alleged acid-producing foods (such as red meat), it will lead to a metabolic imbalance. The body will try very hard to regain its equilibrium, making you sick in the process.

The diet claims that if you eat more alkaline and less acid-forming foods, it will help reduce inflammation.

According to the diet, you should be eating 80 percent alkaline-forming foods and 20 percent acid-forming foods. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association determined how different foods affect the urine's acidity. The results found that the most acid-forming foods included poultry, fish, dairy products, meat, caffeine, sugar and salt. Grains were found to be slightly acid forming. The most alkaline-forming foods were fruits and vegetables.

However, under normal conditions your cells and blood maintain a pretty neutral pH of about 7.4 in order to survive. Your body does a good job of neutralizing acidic and alkaline foods, making sure it always maintains the correct pH. Although you may hear folks claim that food can change the body’s pH, the biochemical reactions occurring are very complex (college biochemistry, anyone?). The reality is that food cannot change your body's pH.

U.S. News & World Report ranks this plan pretty low at No. 30 of 39 of Best Diets Overall. This plan emphasizes foods that they deem to be less acid-forming including fruits, vegetables, beans, tofu, and some nuts, seeds and legumes. Eggs, meat, alcohol, processed foods, added sugars and grains are limited because they supposedly ‘acidify’ the body. The Alkaline Diet restricts foods groups: whole grains, all animal protein, including eggs and meat. Dairy foods are eliminated.

If you go on this plan, you may lose weight if you eat more fruits and veggies and cut out processed foods and added sugar. Although many of these foods are plant-based, restricting food groups like grains may also cut out important nutrients the body needs. There is little to no evidence that this diet makes for long-term success with weight loss.

The Good: The diet emphasizes eating lots of fruits and vegetables.

The Bad:

  • There is a lack of strong scientific evidence to back up the claims of this diet.
  • Cutting back or cutting out food groups also cuts back on important nutrients the body needs. On this plan, calcium and vitamin D, both nutrients identified by the 2020-2025 dietary guidelines as under consumed nutrients by Americans, are tough to get enough of.
  • Dining out may be limited.

The Bottom Line: There's a lack of strong scientific research to back up the health claims being made about eating a primarily alkaline-based diet. The diet does recommend increasing fruits and vegetables which is great, however it is at the expense of other foods which means you’re not getting all your essential nutrients when following this plan.

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