I regularly scout internet to get updated on health matters. Sometimes I come across a really valuable and interesting article. Most times however, I land on some useless expert advice that makes me pull hair out of my scalp.
This is what I found recently. According to some “experts” a health-promoting diet needs to be 70-80% alkaline. These “experts” advise against meat consumption, as “meat is acid and therefore bad for you”. Exactly that statement made several rounds on internet and found many followers eager to become vegetarians or even vegans.
Alkalinizing is trendy, but…
I originally embraced the acid-alkaline concept with enthusiasm when I freshly graduated as a naturopathic physician. I abstained from meat and other animal based food sources for a while, but to my surprise the results were not favorable to my health. I didn’t however want to discount this concept entirely due to my own failure and diligently observed my patients that continued with alkaline diets.
Over the years, as I gathered more clinical experience and data, I have noticed that despite the claims, an alkaline-based diet is not health-promoting for many individuals. I researched the subject further, to find a scientific basis for the claims made and there were a few surprises along the way.
Think before alkalinizing
- “Experts” claim that meat is acidic. Yet, the parts we eat, i.e. the muscles have a pH of 7.1, also it is well known that blood has a pH of 7.4, both are alkaline in other words.
- “Experts” claim that plants are alkaline. Yet many plant foods are acidic and even very acidic. Here are some examples: Lemon has a pH of 2, tomato pH 4.5, blueberry pH 3.0, carrot juice pH 6.0. These plants are certainly not alkaline. Their pH varies and surprisingly those plants which are highly regarded for there healing and detoxifying properties seem to be quite acidic.
- “Experts” say our body is alkaline. Yet, different parts of the body have very different pH levels. A functional stomach must be acidic and healthy pancreas must be alkaline. So describing an alkaline body as a state of good health is complete nonsense.
- “Experts” tell you that you must ensure that your blood is alkaline. Yet, our blood is always very tightly guarded. It is always alkaline, regardless of your health status, even at death. A medical diagnosis of metabolic acidosis is given when blood is still alkaline.
- “Experts” tell you to test your saliva and urine. Yet, your saliva and urine pH will fluctuate throughout the day depending on your ability to digest and detoxify. Fluctuations are normal and desirable.
- “Experts” tell you that your saliva and urine should be alkaline. Yet Dr. Carrey, MD has demonstrated that the best and the energetically strongest point for saliva and urine is actually acid at pH 6.4. Please review his work on biologic ionization for better understanding of this concept.
- “Experts” tell you that acid promotes cancer. Yet, vitamin C, a highly acidic substance has been shown to have strong anti-cancer properties.
I watched my patients, diligently studied their diets and I eventually arrived at surprising correlations. Vegetarians and vegans have more problems with weight (both over and underweight), maintaining short- and long-term energy, muscular strength and explosive power, as well as cardiovascular capacity.
Yet vegetarianism and veganisms are pushed as the healthiest diets. Yet my clinical findings ended up being in big conflict with this belief. Veganism appeared as an appealing theory, but in practice it did not work.
I have engaged in research about diets, nutrition, and alkalinity. After a few years I found some solid answers.
The ugly truth about alkaline diets
- Proportion of acid and alkaline food does not matter for health. Dr. Price, DDS has proven this 80 years ago by correlating tooth health to acidity and alkalinity of diets. He has un-disputedly proven that dental health is not related to pH of food or alkaline ash left behind by those foods, but by density of nutrients present in food. To give you an example the Eskimos of Alaska ate a highly acidic diet with the ratio of acid (phosphorus, chlorine, sulphur) to alkaline (calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium) ash of 707/382. While on this diet their teeth had less than one cavity per thousand examined. When their diet became more basic (ratio 234/227) the number dramatically jumped to 130 cavities per thousand teeth examined. Healthy teeth reflect a healthy body. Yet an alkaline diet does not promote healthy teeth.
- Dr. Jones who promoted and emphasized the need of alkaline diet for dental health was found not to have enough quantitative data to support her claims. Her findings remained a theory and were never proven. However, due to the appealing nature of the claims the theory has been disseminated as a fact.
- Acidity-alkalinity of the body parts and the pH gradient between organs is maintained by several body-wide buffers and acid-alkaline ions. This system can withstand a great variety of long-term dietary practices from highly acidic to highly basic. Kidneys play an important role in pH homeostasis. Doubling once meat intake places only 10% extra burden on the kidneys.
- A highly popular lemon-juice test for body alkalinity does not test body pH (since ther is no such thing as a single body pH), but rather reflects the strength of the buffers. Start by reading more about bicarbonate, phosphate, and protein buffers of the body to be critical of erroneous claims.
- Vegetarianism and veganism do not save animals. Farming displaces the natural habitat of many animals and makes detrimental changes to the environment of wildlife. Please read “The Vegetarian Myth” by Lierre Keith if you are looking for a no-nonsense recoup of vegetarianism and are considering the ideology of saving the planet.
- Nature looks cruel, as per our “humanitarian” standard, but it is not up to us to judge. Yes, plants do not scream when you eat them, but neither does a caterpillar when you step on it. Just because you do not see or hear it, does not mean it does not exist. Plants can be under considerable stress when damaged (taken out of the ground, broken or eaten). Plants do not scream, but experiments show they do feel. Remember this next time you juice you veggies.
Focus on nutrient quality, not health trends
The bottom line is that it does not matter from the point of view of pH affecting health whether you are a vegetarian or meat-eater. What matters is the quality of food, density of nutrients, and the ability to distinguish whole foods from food-like products.
Your best bet for being healthy is not counting your alkaline nutrients, but to focus on soil quality, robustness of plant and animal foods, as well as avoidance of modern practices that block detoxification organs. So next time instead of debating whether kale or steak, get smarter and consider throwing away your antiperspirant.