By: Emily Martinez-Maria, USJ Dietetic Intern 17’
I had the chance to attend FNCE 2016 with my dietetic internship class this past
October! On top of being a great place to get free samples of everything imaginable and more, I actually learned a lot. There was one talk in particular that stood up to me: “Diet, Supplements and Cancer Therapy: What should we tell our patients?” by Dr. Abrams and Mary Marian, DrN. During the talk they described some of the recent nutrition therapies currently used to treat cancer patients. Dr. Abrams mentioned a diet I was not very familiar with, the alkaline diet.
I found out this diet has been in the media for a few years and has been followed by
celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow and recently, Kelly Ripa. So, what do these celebs do or have done to follow this diet?1
In the pH scale from 0 to 14, anything that falls below 7 is considered an acid and
anything above 7 is considered a base. The alkaline diet increases the intake of basic or alkaline-forming foods and reduces the intake of highly acidic-forming foods, or the foods commonly seen in the regular diet that some or most Americans follow! The alkaline diet eating patterns decrease the amount of acid the body has to process, making it less stressful for a few organ systems.2
When following this diet, foods are categorized as positive or negative potential
renal acid loads (PRALs), or in simple words, foods that have an effect on the kidneys and the acid levels in the urine. Alkaline-forming foods have negative PRALs scores and acid forming foods have positive PRALs scores. Surprisingly enough, the food’s ability to alkalize in the body does not depend on the actual pH of food, therefore even though citrus fruits are seen as acidic foods they actually have an alkalizing effect in the body. 3 If a person’s health needs some improvement, the diet recommends 80% of the foods to be alkaline-forming foods or having negative PRALs scores, and 20% or less to be acid-forming foods or having positive PRALs scores for diet balance and digestion. To maintain health, the diet recommends 60% alkaline-forming foods and 40% acid-forming foods.
Some Alkaline friendly foods 3
Some Acid forming foods 3
There has been some research done to observe possible relationships between
following an alkaline diet and health benefits. Some results suggest that the body creates a basic environment when following an alkaline diet and that this type of environment may improve the effectiveness of some types of chemotherapy treatments but not others when treating cancer. However there is no evidence that supports the benefit of an alkaline diet and cancer prevention.2 Other research suggest there is also no evidence that supports the association between the alkaline diet and bone health, even though an alkaline diet reduces the amount of calcium lost through the urine.4 Therefore there is no current strong evidence supporting the alkaline diet when treating certain diseases.
Even though there is not a lot of research connecting the diet to benefits when preventing or treating some diseases, the diet follows good guidelines such as eating mostly plant-based foods, including a lot of fruits and veggies, limiting the amount of
low biological value protein, avoiding processed, high-fat, and low fiber foods. These recommendations can also be seen in some of the nutritional guidelines published for the general public and disease prevention.5,6 As a dietetic intern I have to say that moderation is key to ©DrCynthia.com find the right balance in your diet and I personally wouldn’t recommend following any extreme diet if you are an overall healthy individual. Instead of minimizing or avoiding the consumption of protein from animal sources, I would recommend increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables and other plant-based foods to avoid possible nutritional deficiencies.
Now let’s see, how BASIC do you really are?!
Where did I get my facts?
1. Duerson, Meena Hart. “I Tried the Alkaline Diet and Here’s What Happened.”
TODAY.com. Today, 12 Aug. 2016. Web.
2. Schwalfenberg, Gerry K. “The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH
Diet Benefits Health?” Journal of Environmental and Public Health (2012): 1-8. Web.
3. “The Acid Alkaline Balance Diet.” AcidAlkalineDiet.net. The Acid Alkaline Association.
4. Hanley, David A, and Susan J Whiting. “Does A High Dietary Acid Content Cause Bone
Loss, and Can Bone Loss Be Prevented With an Alkaline Diet?” Journal Of Clinical
Densitometry: The Official Journal of The International Society For Clinical
Densitometry 16.4 (2013): 420-425. Medline. Web.
5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office of Disease Prevention and
Health Promotion. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th ed.
6. American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and
Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention. (2012). Web.