Alkaline Diet- it’s all the Acid’s Fault

In school you were probably at some stage taught about the four humors of the human body, from Hippocratic medicine. According to Wikipedia, this is what it is:

Humorism, or humoralism, is a now discredited (but historically important) theory of the makeup and workings of the human body, adopted by Greek and Roman physicians and philosophers, positing that an excess or deficiency of any of four distinct bodily fluids in a person directly influences their temperament and health.

Illustration of the four body humors, borrowed from Wikipedia http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2b/4_body_fluids.PNG

Accurate. For example, if you had too much phlegm in your body you would be cold and tired (this is where the word ‘phlegmatic’ comes from). The phlegm is based on the element of water so to reverse the effect you needed to eat foods associated with the element of fire, thus dispelling the phlegm from your body. If you had too much blood in you, thus being sanguine and perhaps too impulsive, the doctor would let your blood. Such rubbish, right? Right? Everyone knows this is just ridiculous! That is, everyone knew this for a few hundred years up until the Alkaline Diet came along. It has just reverted a few thousand years backwards in its view on human health when it states that by eating certain types of food you can dispel the acid from your body. What acid? All we have is the gastric acid in our stomachs, and amino acids in our cells. Amino acids are also known as proteins by the way, and essential to our survival. Without them your cells won’t work and you would die.

Anyway, back to the subject. Can you dispel this so called acid from your body?
No!

The scary part is that a lot of Q&A pages on the net about health and diet and acids claim that this supposedly poor pH level is really dangerous. The thing is, though, that you cannot change the pH level in your blood. Let’s have a closer look at all this.

What is the Alkaline Diet?
The alkaline diet is a diet which is supposed to dispel the acid from your body, if you make certain to eat the listed ‘alkaline foods’.

Why should you follow the Alkaline Diet?
I have done a bit of Googling and found these ‘facts’ about this ‘diet’. Apparently, according to this site, which sells ‘alkalizers’ for your water (I’ll get back to that one), these are the reasons you should eat alkaline foods:

Alkaline foods and acidic foods are all around us each day! Can you guess what is better for us…Alkaline or Acidic foods? Well, if you guessed Alkaline then you were right. It is recommended that we eat 80% alkaline foods and 20% acidic foods. This helps us keep our bodies in an alkaline state which is good thing. No disease can live in an alkaline environment but thrives in an acidic environment.

Who is recommending this? As usual with these kinds of sites there are absolutely no references.

Another site says this:

Alkaline ionized water the best water to cure many diseases and to avoid cancer. As mentioned in the Cancer Regime to keep the Ph-level alkaline by drinking alkaline ionized water is the best you can do for your health. In a alkaline cell environment cancer cells for example can’t live or grow. The immune system will boost up and is able to fight viruses, infections, bacteria and parasites better and stronger. When we realize the fact that every person develops hundreds or thousands of cancer cells every day it is easy to understand that the Ph level is one of the most important measures.

The body fluids are highly toxic and this is the best fertile ground for cancer and many other diseases. The table below shows some of the common soft drinks pH and the pH of Battery acid and Alkalized Ionized Water.

By the way, this site received 9 canards at the Quackometer!

I don’t even know where to begin with that one. You cannot cure cancer with water, ionized or not. And the body fluids are not highly toxic. If they were, I’m pretty certain we’d die instantly.

The third example I have for you claims that an alkaline diet will give you this:

A disease-free life and saying good bye to health issues like acid reflux, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, back pain, and disease for good.

So what do we have this far?
According to the top sites on Google, some of them presented above, you need to dispel the acid from your body. If you do this, by eating special kinds of alkaline foods and by drinking ionized water, your health will improve massively and you will never again be ill and you can also cure your cancer. Robert Young is one of the pioneers for this diet. A woman named Kim Tinkham adopted this regime in 2007. She died in 2010 from her untreated breast cancer. Perhaps she is only one victim among many?

On Young’s website you can read:

Whether you’re wanting to improve your diabetes or cancer situation, lose weight, or just want more energy, there is a wealth of knowledge here for your benefit. You’ll find FREE healthy recipes, educational videos, and scientific articles. We offer superior health supplements like our organic greens drink, alkaline water ionizers, as well as health coaching and other services to support your well being. It’s never too early to start feeling better today.

Yes we see how well that went for Kim. What does that even mean? Improve my diabetes or cancer situation? It says nothing of what he claims to provide. Personally I’d rather let my dog Zigge treat me than that man. My canine would certainly do a better job. By the way, Young’s website received 10 canards. The quackery is deafening.

What do you need to do to follow the alkaline diet?
There is of course the food. Just follow this chart:

Wait a second… One of the foods listed as alkaline on that chart is apple cider vinegar? According to this site:

A good PH level for high quality apple cider vinegar is between 2.8 – 3.0.

They also list lemon as alkaline foods.
Alkaline? No. Oh wait, apparently you are supposed to eat 20% acidic foods and 80% alkaline. Why? I have no idea. How to measure it? Beats me. Neither does this make lemon and apple cider vinegar alkaline. Not that it matters, because you can’t actually change your pH level in your blood, but more on that in a minute.

Ionized Water
You also need to drink ionized water. Apparently this is alkaline and would increase the pH level in your blood. There is just a minor issue…
If you do drink alkaline water, its alkalinity is quickly removed by the highly acidic gastric fluid in the stomach. Just like everything else you eat or drink, making it completely pointless. That doesn’t stop the scammers though. The price of these ionizers? Young sells them on his website. The cheapest one costs a mere $1295. So you can both become poor and die from cancer. Deal of the century.

Now we come to the most interesting thing of all. You see, all of these products are useless because:
It is impossible to increase or decrease the pH in the blood. Why? Because we are supposed to have the pH level we already have! If it is increased or decreased we will die.

Dr. Mirkin, an actual expert, has this to say:

Dietary modification cannot change the acidity of any part of your body except your urine. Your bloodstream and organs control acidity in a very narrow range. Anything that changed acidity in your body would make you very sick and could even kill you. Promoters of these products claim that cancer cells cannot live in an alkaline environment and that is true, but neither can any of the other cells in your body.

However, there is another very interesting thing to take notice of, and that is that a lof of bacteria can in fact live in alkaline environments. According to University of Missouri this is the case:

The pH of the environment affects bacterial growth. Most bacteria grow best in the pH range from about 6-8; however, there are many acid-tolerant bacteria as well as alkaline-tolerant strains. In general, bacteria survive alkaline pH better than acid pH, but a few strains actually grow better in an acidic environment. Some can even use sulfuric acid as an energy source. […] Control of pH is also a method of food preservation, used primarily in pickling. The acidic environment of the pickling solution prevents microbial growth.

You can find this on page 6 in this information sheet from them.

You know? Because bacteria adapt. All the time. They have been adapting forever. That is why they in the end become resistant to antibiotics. So if this alkaline diet would in actual fact work, which it doesn’t, and we could change our pH in our blood, which we cannot, and the bacteria would die… they would only be doing that for a little while. Then they would adapt and we would have diseases again. Just to make certain I asked my mother, who is a biomedical analyst, if they could survive in alkaline environments. Her reply was:

I am uncertain if any bacteria or virus would be able to, since different conditions are required for each type. But the optimal environment for all pathogen bacteria and viruses, is the same one as is inside the human body. This also means that the environment cannot be too acidic. In fact, the best pH for them should be around 7.

In other words, the exact pH as spokesmen for this diet propose. So basically, there are bacteria and viruses which can survive acidic or alkaline environments. Some bacteria cannot, but neither can the cells in human body. And it’s not true that bacteria thrive in acidic environments: some are annihilated all together. But if we could change our internal environment then the bacteria would adapt. I suppose then we’d all start to drink acid. Brilliant.

However, the only pH level we can change is the one in our urine. In our blood, it’s impossible. And should we somehow succeed, we would all die.

So why do people report success with this diet?
Because, again, if they eat only crap before they try this, as in fast foods and whatnot, of course they will notice a difference in their well-being when they begin eating vegetables and fruit. However, their blood pH will be no different, and they will not be cured from cancer.

Solution?
This kind of diet belongs in the mediaeval ages along with the arbitrary theory of the four humors, and should be kept there. It has no place in a modern, enlightened world. It’s in fact life threatening, like all other health hoaxes. So stay well away. If you want the mediaeval feel I recommend Elizabeth Chadwick’s books.

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