What an Alkaline Diet Can- and Can’t- Do for your Health: The truth about the buzzy pH Diet

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By: Shannon McCarthy

pH is a measurement of how acidic or basic a substance is. 7 is neutral, anything below is acidic, and anything above is basic (up to 14). Basic and alkaline mean the same thing and can be used synonymously. The pH of stomach acid is naturally 3.5 or lower and the reason for the alkaline diet is to maintain this number on the pH scale.1 The western diet is full of acidic foods which cause an increase in the pH inside the stomach. The reasoning for most people to switch to eating an alkaline diet is to promote an alkaline pH in the body, optimizing the body’s pH and supposedly riding the body of the negative health effects brought on by this acidic Western diet.1 If the stomach pH is closer to this natural 3.5 then it is potentially beneficial to the body as a whole.

Categorizing foods as alkaline or acidic is based on how it effects urinary tract excretion. For example one my think that a lemon would be categorized as an acidic food but it is categorized as basic. Lemons are acidic foods but when they are broken down they give urine a basic pH, thus categorizing them as basic. The alkaline diet consists of foods like vegetables, fruits, grains, almonds, lentils and soy products.2 For some this may be hard to maintain but others may already eat similar to this. Foods high in animal protein, dairy products and refined grains would need to be avoided.3


Benefits of an alkaline diet along with combating the high acidic Western diet is weight loss, decreased obesity and decreased cancer risk. There are many skeptics of the alkaline diet, they believe it could be beneficial to a persons health but not in the ways that it is advertised. Some say that an alkaline diet may increase the longevity of life and for others it is hard to believe this because there is little research to back claims like this up.3 The thought process is that if a person is constantly eating acidic foods, like in the western diet, when does the body have time to do anything else besides just work on removing these foods to restore the natural pH. Therefore if alkaline foods are eaten and the pH does not drastically change, then the body has more time to work proficiently, which creates for a longer and healthier life. So believer or skeptic, there needs to be more research completed to really prove this diet is beneficial to health.


  1. Marturana A. What an alkaline diet can and can’t do for your health. 2016
  2. http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/acid-alkaline-diet
  3. Foroutan R. Alkaline diet: does pH affect health and wellness? 2016

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