How the alkaline diet (does not) affect your pH

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 by: Dr. Daniel Zagst
Tags: alkaline diet, pH level, myths

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(NaturalNews) Diet fads are not hard to come by, every year there is a new one that is supposed to be "the best." A lot of buzz has been surfacing in regards to the alkaline diet. This diet is said to create a higher body pH in order to stave off many conditions including cancer and inflammation. "Acid-forming" foods should be avoided because they create a lower body pH and people should only consume "alkaline-forming" foods and water. This misconception of human physiology may be hindering proper nutrition and giving people a false sense of how their body works.

How body pH actually works

The blood pH of the human body remains in a tight range of 7.35-7.45. Any variation outside of this range triggers immediate compensatory mechanisms to return the pH to normal. The main regulators of blood pH are the respiratory and renal systems. Carbon Dioxide is acidic, and makes the blood slightly more acidic, which is why venous blood has a slightly lower pH than arterial blood. If the blood pH drops too low, you breathe faster, if it gets too high, you breathe slower.

The idea that what you eat or drink has a direct effect on blood pH is not founded in physiology. Stress, infection, and quantity of food will affect digestive juices, not the types of food. Different areas of the body have different pHs depending on their function. Regardless of what goes in, the pH of the blood will not change. It is true that "alkaline" foods do have an effect on urinary pH, but this is completely independent of blood pH and doesn't reflect overall health. There has been no association found between the pH of urine and the bone density of a person. Furthermore, your digestive system uses what it needs to maintain an acid-base balance; the excess is excreted as waste through the bladder or the colon.

Cancer and the alkaline diet

Alkaline diets became particularly popular following a story of a cancer-survivor using the alkaline diet as their cure along with a research article indicating cancer cells grow better in a low pH environment. The research article involved cancer cells in a test tube, far from what normally occurs in the human body. Cancer cells create acid as a byproduct of metabolism; in turn, creating an acid environment. Cancer cells grow well in an acid environment because they produce acid, completely independent from the blood pH.

The nutrition you are missing out on

Now, the alkaline diet is not all bad. It does eliminate many foods that were already known to be bad for you including refined sugars, processed foods, and excessive meat/dairy consumption, but it also eliminates foods that can be very beneficial. Beans and legumes are a great source of phytonutrients, fiber, and protein; all of which have multiple benefits including cancer prevention. Many alkaline diets prohibit fruit consumption; fruits are a great source of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants that reduce inflammation within the body. Animal products provide protein, essential fatty acids, and vitamins needed for brain, cell, and cardiovascular health. Dairy products are considered to be acid-forming in an alkaline diet, but this claim is unfounded and has since been overturned in the scientific community. All of these foods that were eliminated have valuable nutritional content. People cannot hope to change their blood pH as it is not beneficial nor is it healthy. Good eating habits include the elimination of refined sugars, no processed foods, plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, and legumes, with a conservative consumption of meat and dairy products.

Sources for this article include:

About the author:
Dr. Daniel Zagst is a chiropractic physician at Advanced Health & Chiropractic in Mooresville, NC. He has a BS in Professional Studies of Adjunctive Therapies, Doctorate of Chiropractic from NYCC, and an Advanced Certificate in Sport Science and Human Performance. Find out more at

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