What is the alkaline diet?
Proponents of the alkaline diet say the pH balance in your body is key to preventing weight gain and other health problems. Critics argue that the popular diet lacks scientific evidence.
Fri, Mar 02 2012 at 12:23 PM
The lifestyles of the rich and famous these days often includes the alkaline diet – an eating plan that is said to alter the body chemistry, resulting in dramatic weight loss, better skin and hair and increased energy.
Proponents of the diet — outlined in a series of books by Robert O. Young, Ph.D., and Shelly Redford Young — argue that the foods you eat affect the pH level of the blood. “The over-acidification of the body is the single underlying cause of all disease,” Young says on his website. Young’s office didn’t return a telephone call before deadline for this story.
Water has a neutral pH value of 7 — the higher the value, the more alkaline. The Youngs, and others, say acidic values lead to weight gain and other health problems. The key to pH balance is a diet rich in green vegetables and light in meat, sugar and processed foods.
The alkaline diet is “a way of packaging a healthy diet,” says Marjorie Nolan, a New York registered dietitian and national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
There isn’t scientific evidence that diet affects pH, says Nolan. The body tightly regulates pH between 7.35 and 7.45, she adds.
“If you go very much above or below that — you’re pretty much a goner,” Nolan says. “You could eat at McDonalds breakfast, lunch and dinner — now that’s not healthy eating — without affecting your pH level.”
Yes, eating veggies is good for you
The emphasis on vegetables makes the alkaline diet beneficial for most people, Nolan says, but there are some people who should consult their physician before trying to follow such a plan. Those with diabetes who must tightly regulate blood sugar levels should use caution before sharply cutting meat and other proteins from their diet because protein helps regulate blood sugars. Those with digestive disorders should ease into a high fiber diet.
In a review of “The pH Miracle for Weight Loss,” Lalita Kaul, Ph.D., also a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, wrote:
“There is no doubt nearly all of us could stand to eat more vegetables or that replacing some of the red meat and cheese in one's diet with leafy greens will have a positive effect on cholesterol levels. Besides a diet rich in vegetables, the plan recommends exercise. Unfortunately, the pH Miracle is not quite so simple.“Although it is hard to argue with the pH Miracle's heavy emphasis on green, leafy vegetables, many dieters may still be curious to know more about the science behind this plan. Regrettably, the authors are vague; other than citing an unspecified "1991 study" as proof of the program's effectiveness, they do not provide details on the research behind their theories”
What to eat
Foods to fill up with, according to the Young’s book “Back to the House of Health,” include asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, green beans, garlic, green cabbage, red cabbage, lettuce, onion, peas, spinach, beets, carrots, turnips, lima beans, lentils, tofu, navy beans, almond, flax seed and olive oil.
Foods to be eaten in moderation include fresh fruits such as blueberries, cherries, bananas, peaches, pears, pineapples and watermelon. Brown rice, wheat and fresh-water fish should also be eaten in moderation, according to the alkaline diet plan.
So-called “acidic foods” to be avoided include: beef, chicken, pork, ocean fish and eggs. Most dairy products are also on the forbidden list, as are cashews, peanuts, chocolate, sugar. The alkaline diet also says to avoid beer, wine, liquor and coffee.
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