By now, you have surely seen the claims about the alkaline diet. Or at least you have seen meme’s talking about how cancer cannot live in an alkaline environment, how it thrives in an acidic one, and how eating the right foods can change your blood and body into a more alkaline (therefore hostile to cancer) environment.
Keep in mind, friends, that meme’s are not facts. In fact, have you ever seen any actual data, scientific data, to back up any of these claims? No, David Wolfe is an entertainer and salesperson; he is not a doctor, so he doesn’t count.
How Does the Alkaline Diet Work?
It’s not a diet as in causing you to lose weight type of diet, but rather, an anti-cancer eating plan. Eating foods that are “acidic” (and this has nothing to do with their actual pH balance), such as meat, dairy, grains, eggs, and poultry, leave your body in a higher acidic state, therefore, more vulnerable to cancer and disease.
Foods that are called alkaline would be fruits, nuts, vegetables, and beans. These are foods thought to somehow change your blood and body tissue into a more alkaline pH, thereby avoiding cancer and/or other types of disease.
What is a Normal pH level?
Before we go any further, let’s talk about what pH is and what is considered normal. In simple terms, pH is the measure of how acidic or alkaline something is. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14 with anything measuring between 0 and 7 being acidic, 7 is neutral, and 7 to 14 is alkaline.
The pH of the body varies tremendously. There is not real “normal” level, unless you want to get specific. Your stomach, for example, filled with hydrochloric acid, is somewhere between 2 and 3.5 on the pH scale. This is necessary for the digestion of food.
The blood, however, is always slightly alkaline by nature, somewhere in the area of 7.35 and 7.45.
What you are not told is that the pH of the blood, if it should fall out of its normal range is dangerous and, usually, deadly. Nothing you eat will change the pH of your blood. NOTHING. Your body works very hard to regulate the pH of your blood for your very survival! Only the extremely ill and dying have overly alkaline or overly acidic blood pH. THAT is a fact.
But What About the Urine Test?
The proponents of the alkaline diet tell you that you can check just how “alkaline” your blood or body is by using pH test strips that you put in your urine. A more alkaline reading means you are “healthier”.
Not so fast.
Remember that for your own survival, your body closely monitors the pH of your blood so you can stay alive. To make sure this happens; your body has several very effective mechanisms that watch the pH of your blood, one of which is to remove excess acid from the body via urine.
While food CAN change the pH of your urine, it won’t change your body or blood one tiny bit. Try having a big steak for dinner and, in a few hours, your urine will absolutely be more acidic as your body removes excess acid and protein from the body. Your blood, however, will remain in that nice little alkaline zone.
Actually, the pH of urine is a pretty piss poor indicator (if we may say so) of the pH of the body or of your health in general, as it can be easily influenced by many other factors.
What About Osteoporosis?
This is another myth generated by those who are pushing this diet. The theory is that high acid diets result in the body removing minerals that are alkaline, such as calcium, from the bones to buffer the acid.
The main problem with this theory is that the normal function of the kidneys is completely left out of the equation! Your kidney’s naturally remove acid and regulate the pH of the body. They also produce bicarbonate ions that neutralize acid in the blood, which is one of the main processes that helps the body keep the blood on such a tight pH schedule.
Your bones have nothing to do with the process of the kidneys removing acid at all.
In fact, if the proponents of this diet had any knowledge of physiology at all, they would know that one of the main drivers behind osteoporosis is the loss of collagen from the bone. This has been linked to low levels of ascorbic acid and orthosilicic acid in the diet. A loss of ACID from the diet, not eating more “alkaline” foods.
Contrary to popular belief, there have been:
- NO studies which have found any link between dietary acid and bone density levels.
- NO link between urine pH and bone health
- A definite link, however, has been found between high protein (high acid) diets and healthier, denser bone structure.
Now Let’s Talk about Cancer
So while we have tried to show you that your diet has no effect on your blood or body tissue pH levels, let’s play devil’s advocate for a moment and let’s assume it does.
Even if we could somehow change the pH of the body or blood, cancer cells do, in fact, grow in alkaline environments. Cancer cells are well-known for growing in normal body tissues which have a slightly alkaline pH of 7.4.
We hate to say it, but you have been lied to by scammers. Many experiments and studies have successfully grown cancer in alkaline environments. True story.
So while it is true that tumors grow more quickly in an acidic environment, this is because cancer creates that acidic environment, not the other way around.
The Bottom Line
While everyone would like to think that we can simply “eat” cancer away or prevent it, the alkaline diet is a myth that simply doesn’t hold up under scientific scrutiny.
However, there is plenty of evidence showing that eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables is the best way to prevent cancer, even if it won’t change the pH of your blood. That is also a true story.