The basic premise of the diet is to only eat foods that are low in acid, otherwise known as alkaline
The Alkaline Diet sounds like a cure-all. The plan promises to fix everything from sleep troubles to problem skin and even aid in weight loss. Last year, on an episode of Live with Kelly and Michael, Kelly Ripa raved about the AlkaMind Cleanse, one version of the fad developed by chiropractor Daryl Gioffre. Having suffered a number of previous injuries, Ripa turned to the diet, along with a regimen of physical therapy, to relieve lingering pain. "It has changed my life," she told viewers. "I swear I think it's responsible for me not being in pain."
The basic premise of the diet is to only eat foods that are low in acid, otherwise known as alkaline. According to alkaline supporters, the typical American diet is entirely too high in acid. Humans have a blood pH of approximately 7.35. This program is built on the belief that eating foods with a greater acidity, a.k.a. with a pH of zero to seven, throws off that balance and causes all sorts of health problems, including cancer, kidney damage, and arthritis. Depending upon where you look, you may see differences in alkaline diet guidelines, but common foods that advocates label as acid-heavy include meat, dairy, eggs, alcohol, and coffee. According to the diet's guidelines, alkaline choices include fresh vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, and low-sugar fruits.
So how true are these claims? "The food that you eat does not affect your blood pH," says Lauri Wright, Ph.D., a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She stresses that your body is fully equipped to balance its pH through your kidneys, lungs, and blood.
Despite the plan's limited effect on actual blood pH, Wright does think that the guidelines are that of a well-balanced diet. "What they're claiming isn't evidence-based, however the diet of fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates has been shown to be very healthful for you, for controlling weight and heart disease," she explains. "The foods that they promote are healthy foods, just not for reasons related to pH."
Although some alkaline followers will frequently test their urine pH, Wright emphasizes that this is not an accurate indicator of health. "Urine pH tells us about kidney function," she says. "It can tell us a little bit about hydration status, and it can be linked with diabetes, but is it a marker of overall health? Not really."
Bottom line: Although there's little evidence supporting the pH-balancing claims of the diet, focusing on fruits, veggies, and healthy carbs can certainly promote wellness and prevent disease, Wright says.