Terrore Nello Spazio

The Alkaline Diet: Real Science or Just Sciency?

The Alkaline Diet PlanThe alkaline diet certainly sounds sciency. And the Washington Post says it’s a “celebrity diet trend that actually has some science behind it.” On the other hand, the claims for this diet plan are pretty broad. They include cleansing the body of toxins, resetting pH balance, increased energy, healthier bones, chronic disease prevention, and weight loss. Nutrition professor Kelly Pritchett sums things up pretty well in a review for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, saying:

The plan lacks variety and limits foods, including dairy, with limited scientific evidence to support the benefits of following an alkaline diet.

The idea behind this diet, endorsed by Kelly Rippa and a host of other celebrities, is to eat foods that promote a slightly more alkaline environment in the body. The foods are mostly fruits and vegetables (a reliably good choice). The shifts in pH happen mostly in the urine, because blood pH is almost always constant. Unfortunately, all the sciency jargon about alkalinity is not connected to health outcome studies.

So what you have in the alkaline diet is a restrictive scheme that promotes fruits and vegetables, but may be hard to follow in the long term. It will probably change the pH of your urine. Because it’s restrictive, it might help you lose a little weight for a little while. Bottom line, it’s backed by little real evidence for better health outcomes.


If you want to load up on the hype, you can find it here.

Terrore Nello Spazio, photograph © Bill Lile / flickr

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May 22, 2016

3 Responses to “The Alkaline Diet: Real Science or Just Sciency?”

  1. May 23, 2016 at 10:08 am, Stephen Phillips said:

    Alkaline Diet…fact or fiction ?

    Foods can change the pH of your urine…but this is always dynamic
    But it s critical for health that the pH of your blood remains constant.
    If it were to fall outside of the normal range, your cells would stop working and you would die very quickly if left untreated.
    For this reason, the body has many effective mechanisms to closely regulate the pH balance in your body. This is known as Acid-Base Homeostasis.
    Fortunately for us, these mechanisms make it near impossible for outside influences to change the pH value of the blood. If that wasn’t true, we would surely be in trouble.
    The fact is… food simply can not change your blood pH.

    That being said, the alkaline diet sounds fine…but it just another diet that will ultimately fizzle out and become part of diet history archives

    Stephen Phillips
    Academic Committee


  2. May 24, 2016 at 10:31 am, Mary-Jo Overwater said:

    What’s most unfortunate and irrespnsible about this is when real scientists who know better peddle this ‘sciency’ slant on diet as a way to sell a book or to retain a lucrative practice of high-paying clientele (like celebrities). In other words, to make money. The science is most likely based on avoiding metabolic acidosis which IS a contributing factor to many degenerative, debilitating, aging, and bothersome conditions and symptoms like impaired energy production, lethargy, edema, increased free radical production, loss of bone mineral, loss of muscle mass, increased calcium excretion, increased kidney stones, decreased immunity, and horrific bad breath. Ironically, these are exactly the conditions and symptoms experienced by many celebrities who followed some form of the ‘sciency’ very-high protein diets, like Atkins or Paleo, which restricts carb-rich vegetables and fruits. If only both of these types of diets could just be combined — problem solved! Wait a minute, we’ve already done that — its called a balanced diet!!

    • May 24, 2016 at 10:51 am, Ted said:

      Brilliant perspective, Mary-Jo! You should write a book.