This is the everything-you-need-to-know-to-be-as-healthy-as-possible newsletter, brought to you by Kristy Russ, pharmacist and health consultant. I have over 16 years experience in helping people improve their health. I specialize in nutritional medicine, which is the secret of "true" preventative medicine. Yes, if I'm successful in getting people to follow my advice, I will put myself out of a job.

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Is An Alkaline Diet An Important Part Of Good Nutrition
Or A Lot Of Hype?

A little over a year ago, I started hearing about alkalinizing our bodies by eating certain foods. Didn't make much sense to me as a pharmacist, so I wrote it off as one of "those fads". Since I specialize in nutritional medicine, I am always reviewing the latest nutritional research to keep myself up to date and I have never seen any studies regarding alkaline diets. In the last 4-6 months though, I have heard so much about it, I decided I'd better research it, lest I was missing some important bit of nutrition myself.

If you haven't heard of it, the idea behind an alkaline diet is that your body functions best at a slightly alkaline pH, so you need to eat foods that make your body more alkaline.

So here's what I found:

Studies involving alkaline diets and acid/base balance of your body are conspicuously absent from medical and nutritional journals. Really, I couldn't find a single credible source for information. So I was forced to review some websites to find out what the theory is.

The only websites I found that discuss alkaline diets are those that are trying to sell you something to have this alkaline body- usually water filters or supplements. According to them, acidic bodies are to blame for pretty much every health problem and correcting this balance will bring you back to health.

After I read their reasons why alkaline diets are supposed to help your body, I realized why it is absent from medical journals. The theory behind it doesn't even make much sense. Anyone with even a little knowledge of physiology would realize that it's not important for health.

The explanation they give of what happens with acidic/alkaline foods sounds very scientific and is mostly true from a chemistry standpoint, so to the unsuspecting person, it seems logical. (The ionizing and alkalinizing of water with expensive water filters wasn't true even from a chemistry standpoint though). The problem with their theories is that your body doesn't work that way- it's much more complex and the pH balance is self-regulated.

Here's the facts:

  • Your stomach is extremely acidic, with a pH of about 2-3. It's designed to be that way- that's how your food gets digested. The water/foods that are suggested will NOT change the pH of your stomach.
  • Stomach acid doesn't get absorbed through your intestine and is neutralized shortly after leaving your stomach.
  • Your body doesn't use minerals to alkalinize your body if it's too acidic.
  • Even if the digestion of certain foods resulted in a more acidic or alkaline environment, it doesn't last long and is easily fixed (see next point)
  • It IS true that your body needs to be kept at a very specific pH and any deviation from that is extremely serious. The most significant way it does this is by breathing- when you breathe out, you get rid of acid from your body. So your body controls the pH by increasing or decreasing your respiration rate. You would alkalinize your body more by hyperventilating than anything you would eat. Your kidneys are also an important part of keeping proper pH balance.

    Your body is constantly monitoring the pH and adjusts its functions accordingly. It's quite amazing!

That's not to say an alkaline diet is not good for your health. Here's a quote taken directly from one of the websites I found:

  • "The reason acidosis is more common in our society is mostly due to the typical American diet, which is far too high in acid producing animal products like meat, eggs and dairy, and far too low in alkaline producing foods like fresh vegetables. Additionally, we eat acid producing processed foods like white flour and sugar and drink acid producing beverages like coffee and soft drinks. We use artificial chemical sweetners like NutraSweet, Spoonful, Sweet 'N Low, Equal, or Aspartame, which are extremely acid forming. One of the best things we can do to correct an overly acid body is to clean up the diet and lifestyle.

    Generally, alkaline forming foods include: most fruits, green vegetables, peas, beans, lentils, spices, herbs and seasonings, and seeds and nuts.

    Generally, acid forming foods include: meat, fish, poultry, eggs, grains, and legumes." (And it especially elaborates on the big ones like most fats/oils, processed foods, alcohol and all the other things it mentioned in the first part of the quote).

Do you think anyone eating more so-called "alkaline" foods and less "acidic" foods would be healthier? Of course! But there are hundreds of reasons for that which have nothing to do with acidity.

And as far as the water alkalinizers? I would suspect any benefits come from just drinking more water. Think about it- if you spent hundreds of dollars on a water treatment system, wouldn't you drink more?

So here's the conclusion I've come to: Health benefits from alkaline diets are due to the fact that it's just a healthier diet. Period. So by all means, eat more fruits & veggies and put lemon in your water if it'll make you drink more. But definitely do NOT spend any money on alkalinizing water systems or special supplements. Until I see better evidence, my opinion is that they're absolutely useless.

Because Laughter Really IS Good Medicine...

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Nutrition News

Here are links to informative and/or interesting news articles on nutrition...

Important Mechanism In Fighting Infection Discovered By U Of Alberta Researchers

'Striking' Endurance Boost Provided By Dietary Supplement

Nutrition Therapy Plays A Role In Childhood Cancer Care

Encouraging A Taste For Fish

Black Rice Has More Antioxidants And Fiber, And Less Sugar Than Blueberries, And It Is Cheaper

Comments? Ideas? Feedback? I'd love to hear from you. Just reply to this zine and tell me what you think!

See you next month...

Good Health to You,

Kristy Russ, BScPharm Pharmacist and Health Consultant

P.S. Give your body the best nutrition possible. You'll not only feel better now, but you'll also have that quality of life in the future that you've always imagined for yourself. Click here to find out more.