With all the buzz around the alkaline diet these days, it is tempting to wonder if there is actually some truth behind it. After all, influencers and celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham, and Kate Hudson support it. However, just because it works for some celebrities, it does not mean it will work for everyone. If you are wondering if this diet can help you yield long-term health benefits, you are in the right place. In this article, we will uncover the science behind the alkaline diet while looking at its potential benefits and side effects. Let the scrolling begin.
- Principle: To consume alkaline foods such as fruits and vegetables and limit acidic foods such as meat and eggs to balance the body’s pH levels.
- Purpose: To prevent chronic health conditions, such as osteoporosis and kidney disease.
- Who Is It For: Anyone who wishes to boost their overall health and practice healthy eating.
- Duration: May be short-term when carried out as a detox and long-term when practiced as a lifestyle change.
- Who Should Avoid: Children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and anyone with underlying health conditions such as diabetes.
- Cons: May limit the intake of protein and nutrients, such as vitamin B12, calcium, and zinc.
In This Article
What Is The Alkaline Diet?
The alkaline diet is a dietary practice based on the central idea that the foods we eat affect our body’s pH balance. It was developed by Robert Oldham Young, an American naturopathic practitioner. When discussing this diet, it is important to understand pH, which is the measurement of how acidic or alkaline something is. It generally ranges from 0-14, which can be categorized further as thus:
- pH 0-6.9: Acidic
- pH 7: Neutral
- pH 7.1-14: Basic/Alkaline
Now, when we talk about the human body, its pH can greatly vary. For instance, the stomach has a pH of 2–3.5 as it contains hydrochloric acid, while the blood in the arteries has a pH of 7.36–7.44 and intracellular pH approximately 7.2 (1). Further, your urine may have a variable pH, depending on the body’s need for balancing the internal environment (2).
The followers of the alkaline diet follow the ‘acid-ash hypothesis,’ which proposes that eating patterns that are high in acid-forming foods such as meat and low in alkaline-forming foods like vegetables and fruits can create an imbalance in your blood’s pH level and lead to diseases such as osteoporosis. However, this hypothesis has no scientific basis. In fact, research suggests that while food can change the pH level of your urine, it has no significant impact on the pH level of your blood (2).
The followers of the alkaline diet claim that it can prevent chronic conditions and diseases, including kidney disease and hypertension. Let us find out how much of it is true in the next section.
Benefits Of The Alkaline Diet
May Prevent Osteoporosis
The alkaline diet is argued to reduce the risk of osteoporosis using the “acid-ash hypothesis” (3). According to the hypothesis, your body takes alkaline minerals such as calcium from your bones when you eat acid-forming foods. It does so to buffer the acids from these foods, which results in a loss in bone mineral density.
However, this theory is debated to have no scientific basis and overlooks the basic function of your kidneys, which is to help maintain the acid-base balance in the body (4). Further, a meta-analysis states that there is no evidence that an acidic diet can lead to osteoporotic bone diseasei XAnother term for osteoporosis which causes the bones to become weak and brittle. or that an alkaline diet can prevent it (5).
Although the debate is still on, anecdotal evidence suggests it has benefited those with osteoporosis. However, consult with your doctor before following it for similar results.
May Benefit Those With Breast Cancer
Research suggests that diet-dependent high acid load may increase the risk of breast cancer, whereas an alkaline diet may have protective benefits against it (6). However, more research is needed to determine the positive impacts of an alkaline diet on different cancers.
May Treat Chronic Kidney Disease
A study suggests that reducing the dietary acid load to the kidneys by consuming a low-protein diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and plant-based proteins may slow down the progression of chronic kidney disease (7). Another study published in the Iranian Journal of Kidney Diseases states that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, such as an alkaline diet, may have positive effects on kidney health (8).
May Boost Heart Health
According to a review published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, an alkaline diet may help reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke (2). This may be due to the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables (9).
May Aid In Weight Loss
The alkaline diet restricts processed foods, dairy, and foods that are high in calories. This helps limit your overall calorie intake, which can aid in weight loss. While there are no studies to support this, the diet’s emphasis on fruit and vegetables may help lose weight. They are rich in fiber, which is associated with weight loss (10). A study published in the Frontiers in Nutrition determined the relationship between dietary fiber and weight loss. According to it, the intake of fiber was higher in the weight loss group who consumed 2.45 servings of fruits, 2.99 servings of vegetables, and 1.03 servings of beans (10).
May Prevent Muscle Loss
A study conducted on the role of dietary acid-base load in muscle loss states that an alkaline diet may prevent muscle loss in healthy women. The study suggested that although protein is important for muscle mass maintenance, fruits and vegetables may also help with it due to the presence of potassium and magnesium in them (11). However, more research is needed in this regard.
We have taken a look at the benefits of the alkaline diet. But what good are these benefits if we do not know what foods to consume to get them? Let us find out in the next section.
Foods To Eat And Avoid On The Alkaline Diet
The alkaline diet categorizes foods into two main groups: acid-forming and alkaline-forming. The acid-forming foods include meat, dairy, grains, and processed foods, while the alkaline-forming ones consist of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the strict form of the diet allows the consumption of 80% alkaline and 20% acidic foods. There are also some versions that allow 60% and 40% alkaline and 20% acidic foods.
Here is a complete list of foods you can consume and limit in this diet:
|Foods To Eat
|Foods To Avoid Or Eat In Moderation
|Fruits such as grapefruit, apple, avocado, and berries
|Meat, poultry, fish, and egg
|Vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and bell peppers
|Grains and grain products such as oats, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, brown rice, and pasta
|Nuts and seeds such as almonds, chestnuts, and flaxseeds
|Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, hard cheese and cottage cheese
|Plant-based proteins such as tofu and tempeh
|Processed grains such as white rice
|Legumes such as lentils and soybeans
|Caffeinated drinks such as soda and coffee and alcoholic beverages
|Herbs and spices such as basil, cilantro, and ginger
|Processed foods such as hamburgers and pizza
|Plant-based milk such as almond and soy milk
|Sugary foods such as ice cream and other desserts
If you decide to go ahead with the diet, you can use ingredients from this food list to come up with delicious meals. Here is a sample meal plan that will give you an idea of what to include in your daily diet.
Alkaline Diet Meal Plan
Here is a sample alkaline diet meal plan you may follow:
|1 bowl chia seed pudding
|2 cups mixed vegetable quinoa salad
|3 oz baked tofu with 1 cup steamed veggies
|A cup of oatmeal topped with 1 sliced banana, a tablespoon of chia seeds, and a drizzle of honey
|2 cups lentil soup with 1 cup mixed greens
|2 cups spinach, kale, and chickpea salad
|1 cup chia pudding with 1 cup berries or 1 fruit of choice
|2-3 tofu stuffed bell peppers with ½ cup salad
|1 grilled chicken breast with 1 cup of lettuce, arugula, and spinach salad
|1 egg white omelet with 1 cup sauteed veggies
|4-6 vegetable sushi rolls with 1 cup miso soup
|1 cauliflower rice and vegetable stir fry bowl
|2 apple pancakes topped with ½ cup blueberries and a drizzle of honey
|2 cups stir-fried vegetables with ½ cup quinoa
|1 cup grilled portobello mushrooms with 1 cup Mediterranean salad
|1 cup overnight oats and 1 fruit of your choice
|2 cups roasted vegetable medley
|1 cup veggie-loaded zucchini pesto noodles with 1 cup sauteed greens
|1 cup maple millet porridge with 1 fruit of your choice
|1 cup chickpea curry with 1 cup salad and ½ cup brown rice
|2 Scrambled eggs with 1 cup of sauteed spinach and mushrooms
This meal plan is a mere suggestion, and you do not have to follow it to the T. In addition to the meals mentioned above, you may also include snacks in your diet. Here are some examples of alkaline diet-friendly snacks:
- A handful of almonds
- 1 fruit of your choice
- ½ cup chia pudding
- 1 sliced cucumber with 2 tablespoons hummus
- 1 apple with 1 tablespoon of almond butter
- ½ cup roasted chickpeas
Further, if you wish to follow the diet for more days or want to modify it for your personal goals, here is what you may do:
Alkaline Diet For Beginners
If you are a beginner to the diet, it is best to start slow. Here are some things you may do to ensure that:
- Gradually incorporate more alkaline foods such as leafy greens and fruits into your regular meal plans and reduce acidic ones.
- Aim to fill half your plate with alkaline vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and cucumbers for every meal.
- Experiment with different alkaline diet recipes to make the transition more enjoyable.
Alkaline Diet For Weight Loss
Although the alkaline diet is not primarily designed for weight loss, it may help with it due to its plant-based eating pattern. Here are some tips you may follow to support your weight loss journey:
- Pay attention to portion sizes to avoid overeating.
- Plan your meals to prevent compulsive eating and ensure you have alkaline diet-friendly foods readily available at home.
- Combine your dietary changes with regular physical activity for sustainable weight loss.
21-Day Alkaline Diet
If you are unsure about the diet, it is a good idea to experiment with it first. You may do so for a short period and see how it suits you. Here is how you can do it:
- Before starting the diet, consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition such as diabetes or nutritional deficiencies.
- Research alkaline foods and incorporate them into your daily meal plans, depending on your daily calorie intake, food sensitivities, and health conditions.
- At the end of the 21 days, assess if you experienced any positive changes and want to continue with the diet.
Vegan Alkaline Diet
Since the alkaline diet mostly focuses on plant-based eating, the diet can be easy to follow for vegans. Here is what you may do to make the diet completely vegan-friendly:
- Replace animal products such as eggs and chicken in alkaline meal recipes with plant-derived alternatives such as lentils, tofu, tempeh, and seitan.
- If you are allergic to soy or other plant-based proteins, consider consulting your doctor for supplement suggestions.
- Replace sweeteners such as honey with brown sugar and maple syrup.
The alkaline diet mainly emphasizes consuming plant-based foods, and it does not have to be boring at all. Scroll down to the next section to take a look at some quick and delicious alkaline diet recipes you can incorporate into your daily routine.
Alkaline Diet Recipes
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 280 g tofu
- 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup mushrooms, sliced
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- ½ tablespoon turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin powder
- ½ tablespoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons coriander, chopped
How To Prepare
- Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
- Add the finely chopped onions and garlic to the pan and cook until the onions are golden brown.
- Add tomatoes and cook for 4-5.
- Add mushrooms to the pan and cook for another 4-5 minutes or until the mushrooms become tender.
- Add salt, turmeric, cumin, and pepper, and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Mash the tofu and add it to the pan.
- Cook for 3-4 minutes and turn off the heat.
- Add chopped coriander and serve hot!
Apple Cinnamon Smoothie
- 1 apple, roughly diced
- 1 orange, peeled and cut into cubes
- 100 ml almond milk
- 1 teaspoon ginger, crushed
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 2-4 ice cubes
How To Prepare
- Add apple, orange, ginger, cinnamon powder, and almond milk to a blender.
- Blend until you get a smooth mixture.
- Add 2-4 cubes of ice to a glass and pour the smoothie into it.
- 400 g chickpeas, boiled
- ½ avocado, chopped
- 1 cucumber, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4-6 cherry tomatoes, cut into half
- 2 coriander stalks, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
How To Prepare
- Add chickpeas, onion, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, and coriander in a bowl.
- Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice to it.
- Mix well and enjoy!
Just like all other diets out there, the alkaline diet also has its own set of drawbacks. Let’s go through some of them in the next section.
Side Effects Of The Alkaline Diet
- May Lack Protein
Since the alkaline diet limits the consumption of common protein sources such as eggs, milk, meat, and cottage cheese, it may lack protein, especially if you also do not eat plant-based proteins such as tofu and lentils. Research suggests that inadequate protein intake and the resulting undernutrition may result in physical weakness, edemai XAnother term for swelling that mainly occurs in the legs, feet, and ankles due to excess fluid trapped in the body’s tissues. , anemiai XA medical condition characterized by the deficiency of healthy red blood cells which causes symptoms like shortness of breath. , and poor immunity (12).
- May Lack Vitamins And Minerals
The alkaline diet plan closely resembles the vegan diet, as it mainly focuses on plant-based eating. Due to this, it may lack some vitamins and minerals, just like veganism. A study indicates that a vegan diet may result in deficiencies of micronutrients, such as vitamin B12, zinc, and calcium (13).
Anecdotal evidence also suggests that an alkaline diet may lead to side effects such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea, especially if your body is not accustomed to a high-fiber diet. Therefore, always consult your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet.
While research on the alkaline diet’s benefits is limited, anecdotal evidence suggests it has various benefits since the diet largely encourages plant-based eating. So, is the alkaline diet good for you? Well, the answer depends on various factors such as your body’s nutrient needs, fitness goals, and health condition. If you follow the diet and ensure your body gets proper nourishment, it may work for you. However, it is best to consult with your doctor before trying it to get a better idea of whether or not it is suitable for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long should I follow an alkaline diet?
Anecdotal evidence suggests there is no fixed period for practicing the alkaline diet. Some may follow it for a short period for a quick cleanse, while others stick to it long-term as a lifestyle. You may consult your healthcare provider to determine which of the two is ideal for you.
Is lemon alkaline?
No, lemon is acidic in its natural state with a pH between 2 to 3. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that it becomes alkaline after digestion in the body.
Is coconut water alkaline?
No, coconut water is not alkaline. It usually has a pH between 5 to 5.4, which is considered slightly acidic.
- The alkaline diet is a dietary practice based on the idea that limiting acid-forming foods such as meat and eggs and consuming more alkaline foods such as fruits and vegetables may balance your body’s pH and improve your overall health.
- The diet’s followers claim it may help prevent osteoporosis, cancer, kidney disease, and other chronic health conditions. However, their claims are not backed up by scientific research.
- Since the alkaline diet may lack certain nutrients, such as protein, vitamin B12, and calcium, you should follow it only after consultation with a registered dietitian.
Alkaline foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, may promote your overall health. However, the alkaline diet has its own set of disadvantages just like other diets. Check out this video to learn all about its pros and cons and determine if the diet is ideal for you.
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- Acid-base homeostasis
- The alkaline diet: Is there evidence that an alkaline pH diet benefits health?
- The acid-ash hypothesis revisited: a reassessment of the impact of dietary acidity on bone
- The kidney and acid-base regulation
- Causal assessment of dietary acid load and bone disease: A systematic review & meta-analysis applying Hill’s epidemiologic criteria for causality
- Higher diet-dependent acid load is associated with risk of breast cancer: Findings from the sister study
- Reducing the dietary acid load: How a more alkaline diet benefits patients with chronic kidney disease
- Alkaline diet: A novel nutritional strategy in chronic kidney disease?
- Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality—a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies
- Increased dietary fiber is associated with weight loss among Full Plate Living program participants
- A higher alkaline dietary load is associated with greater indexes of skeletal muscle mass in women
- Dietary protein intake and human health
- Intake and adequacy of the vegan diet. A systematic review of the evidence