Alkaline Diet: A Scientific Review

The concept of alkaline diet is to incorporate foods that are transformed into compounds with pH above 7 in the body to prevent the formation of acidic substances that can cause diseases, including cancer.

The metabolism of our body performs the food processing in consumable energy through daily activity and the functioning of internal organs.

However, these chemical reactions can happen slowly and in a controlled way, leaving a kind of residue known as “metabolic waste”.

This metabolic waste it can have an alkaline (pH above 7), neutral (about 7) or acidic (below 7) character.

Acidic metabolic wastes favor greater acidity in the blood and urine. On the other hand, alkaline or basic wastes increase the pH in the blood or urine.

This hypothesis defends that acidic waste increases vulnerability to some diseases [See information].

Effects of the alkaline diet

Alkaline components of acid type:

  • Proteins
  • Phosphates
  • Sulphur

Alkaline components of alkaline type:

Therefore, we can distinguish between alkaline, acidic or neutral foods.

Acidic foods: dairy, meat, fish, eggs, cereals and alcohol.

Neutral foods: natural fats, starches and sugars.

Alkaline foods: fruits, nuts, legumes and vegetables.

Eating habits in the alkaline diet involves controlling, with a pH meter, the levels in the urine, checking if it is above or below 7.

Our stomach contains some acids to break down food, such as hydrochloric acid, obtaining a resulting pH of 2 to 3.5 (very acidic)

On the other hand, our blood is always slightly alkaline, with a pH value between 7.36 and 7.44 [Additional Information]

Any deviation of pH in the blood causes physiological disorders that must be treated immediately.

Some blood diseases, such as ketoacidosis, are a consequence of other diseases or habits such as diabetes or alcohol consumption, and are apparently not related to our diet.

Food can change the pH of urine, but not blood

Alkaline foods in our diet

Maintaining the stable pH (7.36 and 7.44) of the blood is an absolute priority of the body. However, the same does not happen with urine.

An out-of-the-box range affects cellular activity and causes damage that can become irreparable.

Because of this, our body has many effective ways to regulate the pH of the bloodstream. This concept is called acid-base homeostasis.

Therefore, it is very complicated that a food, whether acidic or alkaline, can modify the pH value of the blood in people considered healthy. Otherwise, there would be many problems that Social Security could not even address.

On the other hand, food can modify the pH range of our urine, although the consequences are not as serious as in the case of blood. [See information additional]

Precisely, the regulation of pH in the blood is done by means of the excretion through the urine of acidic (or alkaline) media.

When ingesting protein, the tendency of urine is to reduce the pH (become more acidic), by eliminating metabolic wastes of an acidic nature.

Therefore, the pH we have in our urine is not a good indicator of overall health based on pH. In addition, it can also be altered by other factors that are not related to diet.

Foods that form acidic substances (and can cause osteoporosis)

The osteoporosis is a disease related to the loss of bone density progressively.

This problem is quite common in women in postmenopausal stage, increasing the probability of suffering fractures with fortuitous falls.

Proponents of the alkaline diet and the consumption of alkaline foods claim that by maintaining a stable blood pH range, our body will assimilate minerals of alkaline origin (such as calcium or magnesium) to balance the acids of the foods they form. acids through our diet.

From this, those foods that break down into acidic substances will cause the reduction of bone mineral density.

At this point we must talk about the renal function, essential to eliminate acids and regulate the pH of the blood.

The kidneys are able to produce bicarbonate ions with the aim of neutralizing the acids that form in the blood, allowing the blood to maintain its assigned pH range in a stable way. [See more about kidney function and pH]

In addition, our respiratory system is also involved in the regulation of pH in the bloodstream. When the bicarbonate ions (alkaline bases) that form the kidneys neutralize the acids incorporated into the blood, carbon dioxide originates that our respiratory system is able to eliminate through exhalation.

According to medical reviews, osteoporosis is based on the loss of collagen in the bone [Source of information]

Collagen loss is actively linked to low levels of orthosilicic acid and ascorbic acid (known as vitamin C) [Study]

Scientific studies have concluded that diets that create acids have no impact on the concentration of calcium in our body. [See investigations]

This type of diet offers improvements in bone health by increasing the retention of the mineral calcium and promoting the creation of the hormone IGF-1, capable of stimulating muscle repair and bone restructuring.

Relationship between cancer and heartburn

Alkaline or acidic foods

There are beliefs by the general public that cancer is only able to develop in environments of acidic pH and, therefore, its formation can be limited with the alkaline diet and alkaline foods.

On the other hand, medical reviews and scientific trials have not obtained a relationship between the diet-induced acidosis or increased blood acidity caused by diet and cancer. That is, they have not been able to find a direct link.

This is due to the statement that we have previously commented: food is not able to significantly influence the pH range of our blood.

Even so, if this were not true and food could regulate the pH of the bloodstream, cancer cells can not only develop in acidic environments, but also in neutral or alkaline environments.

These cancer cells are capable of developing in normal body tissue, with a pH between neutral and slightly alkaline (7,4). However, from this same study it was found that cells grown at acidic pH were more aggressive than control cells when analyzed at the same pH medium.

Therefore, the alkaline diet would make sense in the event of a possible renal failure that failed to continuously balance the pH.

It is not the acidic environment that causes the cancer, but it is the cancer that creates an acidic environment.

Summary and conclusions

The alkaline diet is considered healthy, because the foods that are part of it are vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes, with high fiber content.

On the other hand, there is no direct relationship in the improvement of health in terms of pH, since the alkalizing effects are neutralized by renal function.

However, in the face of kidney failure (where the pH of the blood cannot be controlled) the alkaline diet and the consumption of alkaline foods makes all the sense in the world, but because of the inability of the kidneys to regulate this pH.