After arriving home from buying plants that probably won't survive my not-so-green-thumb this afternoon I noticed Kate Hudson on the tv talking about health.
Ms. Hudson has a new book out addressing health. Within this very attractive and colorful book is nutrition advice. I actually heard her say that she didn't want to put too much science in the book because she wants it to be 'accessible'. Um... nutrition is science... But Kate has accomplished her goal. There isn't any science within this pretty book.
To be fair Kate Hudson did not come up with the theories in her book. It is based on an idea that has been around a while and has recently gained some popularity. The Alkaline Diet.
A few years ago, before studying movement, I studied nutrition. I wanted to find the best program that looked at nutrition holistically. Naturally I looked into Holistic Nutrition. My first order of business was to order the required books to see what I thought. I read these books. Unlike a lot of people I fact check as much as I can and what I found was disturbing. Most of these books were really focused on an alkaline diet and there is no science to back it up. More than that, science has shown it to be incorrect.
The premise of an alkaline diet is that diseases cannot live in an alkaline environment and our bodies are too acidic due to our diets. The theory put forth is that if we eat more alkaline producing foods and cut out acid producing foods disease will disappear because we have made our bodies less acid.
Unlike our famous friend I do like to put a lot of science in things because I don't believe it makes it inaccesible to you. Quite the opposite. The more you know the science of your body the more you can make your own decisions about your health, making health more accessible to you. So here ya go:
A pH level measures how acid or alkaline something is. The scale has a pH of 0 as totally acidic, a pH of 7 as neutral, and a pH of 14 as totally alkaline. The pH levels throughout your body vary. Your blood has a pH between 7.35 and 7.45. Your stomach is quite acidic in order to break down your food with a pH of 3.5 or lower. Your urine changes depending mostly on what you eat.
Your urine gets rid of the acidity to maintain your natural pH levels throughout your body.
If your urine is acidic it DOES NOT translate to your body being acidic.
What you eat or do not eat CANNOT change your blood pH levels. Your body does this already. Here is how:
When you eat a food that is acid forming the byproducts are neutralized by bicarbonate ions in the blood. This produces carbon dioxide. You exhale this. It also produces salts. The kidneys dispose of this through the urine. New bicarbonate ions are produed throughout this process and go back into the blood. This is how your blood pH is maintained.
Now, there are proponets of this diet that claim that this is too much work for your kidneys so your body has to pull minerals out of the bones to help which is the cause of osteoporosis. They are mistaken. There are many studies to prove they are mistaken. The studies show that increasing protein, which is "acid producing", actually improves bone health.
Does this diet help with weight loss or health? It can, but not because it changes your chemistry. It helps because you have reduced your sugar and added tons of fresh fruit and veggies.
The alkaline diet is complex, difficult, and can be expensive if you buy into a product line.
I am absolutely against anything unnecessarily complex. Becoming healthy is not easy as it is. It is, however, simple.
Do you really want to test your urine all the time and go through a complicated list of foods to see what you can or cannot consume?
Some of the foods in this picture are "bad" according to the alkaline diet, and some are "good". Can you guess which are bad?
It actually isn't easy to find one answer and the "acid producing" foods aren't necessarily acidic.
In the picture the orange juice and the raspberries are fine. The blueberries are on the "most acid" list. Though not every list I have found agrees on this, adding to the confusion.
If someone is telling you that blueberries and soda are equally bad for you I'd suggest looking elsewhere for nutritional advice.
If you are looking to lose fat, control diabetes, lower blood-pressure, reduce your risk of disease you through nutrition you can simply increase your plant-based foods to 8-10 servings a day and reduce processed foods a lot. If you'd like help or more information on nutrition I'm happy to talk to you. I don't do pure nutritional counseling, but I can address it while addressing how much and how well you move. Put the two together and you have a winning combination to create health.