The Evening Standard recently carried an article on the “Alkali Diet”. It was full of rubbish and was taken down after a few days after a complaint by a blogger. Since the diet has celebrity endorsement (there is clearly no woo so stupid that some celebrity won’t endorse it) it is bound to turn up elsewhere so I thought I would take a closer look at it.
It is being pushed by this website amongst others. All foods are said to be acid or alkali and the perils of acidosis are spelled out. ‘Acid’ foods are listed in a scary red box and are as follows:
Other Seafood (apart from occasional oily fish such as salmon)
All fruits, aside from those listed in the alkaline column.
SEEDS & NUTS
FATS & OILS
Margarine (worse than butter)
First off, most of these foods are not acidic (some fruit are but see below) but the clear impression is given that they are to be avoided. So you should avoid meat, eggs, cheese and some nuts – which will make an adequate protein intake rather difficult. Kwashiorkor anyone?
Interstingly, butter is omitted from the list of dairy products. You may wonder how the buttermaking process de-acidifies cream. It does not of course, cream is a fat suspension and is not acidic. Nor is milk in general, as anyone who has drunk milk to ease an acid stomach would agree.
You might also think that since the alkal dieters are encouraged to avoid fruit, they are risking scurvy. However, in the ‘alkali’ box we find:
Taste alone tells you that most of these are acidic, not alkali. In fact, lemon juice has a pH of 2 – 3 and other citrus fruit are similar. Even the tomato has a pH below 4.6 although some varieties have a high sugar content which masks the acidity.
The alkali diet pushers get round this problem by claiming that:
Although lemon juice is itself acidic, the ash of lemon juice is alkaline. When you consume lemon, it neutralizes acid and makes the body more alkaline.
Not sure how you would get lemon-juice ash as it is not noted for its flammability and anyway, when you eat a lemon, it is the lemon itself you are eating, not its ash.
This notion is shown up to be even more absurd by the assertion that:
Apple cider vinegar is an exception: unlike almost every other vinegar, it has an alkaline ash and improves pH by making the body less acidic.
All vinegars are solutions of acetic acid (which is produced when ethanol is partially oxidised) so even if you could burn it, the ‘ash’ of apple cider vinegar would have the same pH as that of any other vinegar.
The alkali diet lacks any scientific underpinning and if you follow it you are risking all kinds of deficiency diseases. Avoid.