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Is the Alkaline Diet Worth the Hype?

April 7, 2015 by Adrienne Ngai, Registered Dietitian

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You may have heard about the alkaline diet. This popular diet promises to help prevent and treat conditions and diseases such as cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, cellulite, mental illness, and be helpful for weight loss.Supporters of the alkaline diet believe the typical North American diet produces more acid in our blood, leading to disease and poor health conditions. The diet recommends eating less acid producing foods such as grain products, meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, and legumes (beans and lentils) and eating more alkaline producing foods (vegetables and fruits). Some variations of the alkaline diet claim that certain combinations of foods should be avoided because they are bad for digestion. There is no evidence to support this claim.

There are no proven health benefits from following an alkaline diet. This diet excludes many healthy foods rich in nutrients, making it harder to meet your nutrition needs.

Our body has complex systems that keep the acid and alkaline level (also known as pH level) in our blood within a normal range. Medical conditions can cause the pH level in our blood to change. Uncontrolled diabetes, cancer, and kidney disease can cause blood to become more acidic. Liver disease, lung disease, or a lack of oxygen can increase the alkaline content in blood. But, there is no evidence to prove that different foods have an effect on the amount of acid in our blood.

Following an alkaline diet can make meeting your nutrition needs a challenge, especially in the following situations: you are very active, you are less than 18 years old, you are pregnant or breastfeeding, and/or you have a health condition that requires you to eat more calories or protein.

Eating a healthy and balanced diet is your best bet for optimal health and reducing your risk for chronic disease. Follow Canada’s Food Guide for the recommended number of servings per day based on your age and gender.

If you have questions about diets to help prevent or manage disease or health conditions or would like personalized nutrition information, dial 8-1-1 and ask to speak with a Registered Dietitian (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).

Photo credit: The Nutrition Post

Recommended resources

The Globe and Mail: An alkaline diet has pros, but there is no proof you can change your pH level

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