The acid-alkaline diet, known commonly as the alkaline diet, involves eating foods that prevent your body from going into a more acidic state than necessary.

Weight loss is among the health benefits that can result from the alkaline diet, which focuses on eating primarily low-carb foods such as vegetables and fruit.

Origin of the alkaline diet

The alkaline diet is based on research by Charles Bernard, a biologist, who studied the effects of the kidneys in controlling the acidity of bodily fluids.

The theory of the diet is that food can affect our pH levels. The natural pH level of the body is between 7.35 and 7.45, which is slightly alkaline, but it is thought that certain foods can make the body become more acidic.

If the body has raised acidity, this can increase the risk of long-term complications, such as cancer and arthritis.

By preventing the body from taking corrective action to restore its pH level, which involves the kidneys and the respiratory system, the aim of the alkaline diet is to eat foods that keeps your pH level constantly more alkaline.

Does the alkaline diet work?

There isn’t much scientific evidence to support the theory of the alkaline diet. Moreover, your body works to keep your pH level constant without the need for dietary intervention.

However, the principles of the diet, and the foods that are advised to eat, make it a healthy diet to follow.

What are the benefits?

Only small studies have investigated the alkaline diet, but there are a number of reported health benefits that can be achieved from eating low acid-producing foods, including:

  • Weight loss
  • Keeping bones and muscles strong
  • Improving heart health
  • Reducing risk of kidney stones
  • Benefitting outcomes in chemotherapy

The idea is also adaptable for vegetarians and those with celiac disease, or who otherwise adopt a gluten-free diet.

What foods can I eat on the alkaline diet?

The aim of the alkaline diet is to ensure that 70-80 per cent of the food you consume is alkaline food.

Certain foods, such as fruit, are acceptable as they have an alkaline effect following digestion, despite being in the acidic group. However, these should be eaten in restricted quantities.

The foods you can eat include:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Almonds and Brazil nuts
  • Legumes – including pulses and beans
  • Seeds –including sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and caraway seeds
  • Certain grains –including quinoa and buckwheat groats
  • Certain beans –including white, lima and soy beans
  • Certain oils –including flax seed and olive oil
  • Citrus fruits and juices

The foods to be avoided on the alkaline diet include:

  • Dairy foods
  • White grains
  • Processed foods
  • Certain nuts – including cashews and peanuts
  • Sugar and sweeteners
  • Alcohol, coffee and black teas
  • Meat
  • Wheat-based products

What are the disadvantages of the alkaline diet?

Removing so many carbohydrates and proteins from your diet may be hard early on, and you might struggle with the limited food choices that are recommended.

Additionally, the lack of conclusive proof regarding the science of the alkaline diet has led to claims that high-acid foods don’t impact severely upon your pH levels.

Can people with diabetes adopt the alkaline diet?

You should speak to your diabetes consultant or dietitian before adopting the alkaline diet, or any diet that significantly differs to your current one.

If you take any medication that can result in hypoglycemia, you will need to ensure that the diet will not increase your susceptibility to low blood glucose levels.

The alkaline diet is not dissimilar to the low-carb diet, which is popular among people with diabetes, and eating foods with a relatively low glycemic load could lead to improved control of blood glucose levels.