Should I Eat an Alkaline Diet?

vegetables - Should I Eat an Alkaline Diet?

I’m wondering because I’ve heard being in an acidic state can be harmful to my health.

Kari Collett, RDN, LDN, CLT with A to Zinc Nutrition, LLC

There is a lot of confusion around the concept of being in a state known as acidosis. Much of the confusion stems from proponents of the Alkaline Diet promoting claims that the diet supports healing by correcting acid levels in the body. As with anything and the human body, it’s just not that simple.

What is acidosis?

Acidosis is a condition in which there is too much acid in body fluids. The kidneys and the lungs are the primary organs that control the levels of acid in the body. The blood is the most tightly regulated fluid in the body and maintains a pH between 7.35 and 7.45. The chemical that keeps blood and other body fluids in balance between acidity and alkalinity is bicarbonate (HCO3-). When pH rises or falls, it’s because the bicarbonate rises or falls.

Types of acidosis

Metabolic acidosis is a condition involving the kidneys in which the kidneys fail to filter out acids in the body’s fluids, primarily blood. Causes of metabolic acidosis can include buildup of body toxins, kidney failure, and ingestion of certain drugs or toxins, such as alcohol or large doses of aspirin. This is a true and potentially dangerous medical condition that must be treated by qualified health professionals. This condition is not manageable with diet.

Respiratory acidosis is another type of acidosis involving the lungs and occurs when the lungs can’t remove enough carbon dioxide from the body. Excess CO2 causes the pH of the blood and other fluids to decrease. Normally the body is able to very tightly and accurately control CO2 levels but, in the case where a person has emphysema, for example, the lungs are not able to expel CO2 as they normally would. Again, this is a medical condition that is treated by a doctor and not manageable with diet.

The type of acidosis that is considered harmful by the advocates of the alkaline diet is not really a true state of acidosis medically speaking and only concerning if the acid levels remain elevated for years. Acid levels are measured in the urine and can rise and fall throughout the day, somewhat impacted by food, but impacted by other factors as well.

What is diet net acid load?

A net acid load refers to the amount of acid we take in from the food we eat. The food we eat mildly contributes to the net acid/base balance in the urine; but food does not directly change the pH of the blood. In theory, the more acidic foods we eat the higher our acid levels will be; conversely, the more alkaline foods we eat, the lower our acid levels will be. Urine measurements of acidity levels, however, are not a true reflection of the acidity levels in the body – it’s really just a measure of acidity levels in the urine.

What is an Alkaline Diet?

The alkaline diet involves eating mostly plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes. The claim is that these foods have a lower “acidic ash residue” post digestion and can help your body maintain a state that is more alkaline. There’s just no science behind the claims.

But if you want to follow an Alkaline Diet, it’s a generally healthy diet. It promotes the intake of lots of plant-based foods that are loaded with nutrients and definitely removes processed foods. The more a diet is vegetable and whole food based, the better your overall state of health. For many people, the Alkaline Diet can produce great health and lifestyle improvements. But the improvements aren’t specific to the changes in acid in urine.

Personalization is Key

For most, a plant-based diet will bring great health benefits but for others, it just won’t be enough to reduce inflammation and the risk of disease. Diet personalization is best all around. No two people are exactly alike! Getting professional guidance can help individuals reach their health goals without all the crazy guess work of following a diet without much scientific support.

To learn more about personalizing your diet plan, schedule a free Discovery Call:

Leave a Reply