Recently I went to a restaurant purporting the benefits of a certain diet which made me think about the recent trends for clean eating and alkaline diets.
I can only think that the perceived benefit of having an alkaline diet is working on the theory that food and drinks which are “acid” are bad for you, for example the recent press stories about acid being thrown in people’s faces and acid in the stomach causing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and causing people discomfort and distress. “Acid” is now seen as being equal to “pain” in many peoples’ minds.
Recently, the alkaline diet is supported by many as a way of improving health and indeed possibly even fighting cancer. The proposition is that by eating certain foods, and avoiding processed foods, it is possible to shift the acid/alkali balance of the body and that this is beneficial for your health.
Unfortunately, anyone who has done basic biology will know that the acid/base balance of your body is very tightly controlled and for good reason! A change in your body’s pH balance is a marker of very serious illness. Our bodies work on the basic principle of maintaining a steady state, this is known as homeostasis. It is just as silly to state that eating or drinking warm liquids will raise your body temperature above 37° Celsius. Your temperature is another very good example of homeostasis and even though we may be in a hot or cold environment our body makes adjustments and our temperature stays at 37°Celsius as this is the optimum temperature for keeping us healthy. Your pH balance is the same. This does not mean that following a healthy diet of fresh, unprocessed foods and avoiding excess red meat and fatty foods does not have significant health benefits because it does.
However, we should not be fooled by these claims which are not backed up by science. Our stomachs produce a very strong acid (hydrochloric acid) and this will neutralise any alkaline foods as soon as they enter the stomach. Also if we have stomachs that produce such a powerful and concentrated acid, why is it that our bodies are not acid too? Therefore, we can now see that it is not possible for us to shift our acid base balance (and that we should not want to) as it is a sign of illness and not health.
We should work towards a fresh, healthy, balanced diet which provides a range of vitamins especially vitamins A-E, minerals, carbohydrates and fats and not denying our bodies foods which will in turn ensure that our bodies crave the foods it has been denied ensuring a vicious circle of binge and purge.
All the studies on diet and health conclude that we should enjoy a healthy, balanced diet and exercise regularly which means around 20 minutes at least 3 times a week but if you can fit in more than that in an enjoyable way such as through a dance class, running or being in a team then the lifestyle change will do more in prolonging your life by making you a happier, healthier person who enjoys their food and because of a balanced diet and the raising of your heartbeat, then any excess calories enjoyed in cakes, sweets, potatoes and alcohol will be burned up and utilised by the body for energy and not stored as fat!