The Alkaline diet cannot cure cancer, Covid-19 or anything else, that is ridiculous and this is why.
Here's a crash course if you're interested in the alkaline diet:
To make your diet (and yourself) more alkaline, you are required to swap out “acidic” foods (meat/fish, dairy, eggs, grains, alcohol) with more “alkaline” foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes.) Please note the use of quotation marks. This will apparently cure cancer, COVID-19 and any chronic disease you can think of.
Now, if you’re thinking, “That sounds a little too good to be true,” this episode is for you. Alternatively, if you’re thinking, “Oh man that sounds incredible; I can’t wait to start my very own alkaline diet!” this episode is definitely for you.
Hey, welcome to the Bite Me podcast, thanks for lending me your ear holes. This is a podcast that's going to be designed to give short, sharp, snappy intros to some misunderstood nutrition topics. So in the space of five to 10 minutes, you can get the low down on what is the background behind these things and why they maybe should or should not be taken seriously. Today, we're going to go through the alkaline diet because given the current COVID-19 situation it's pretty topical, but to be honest, this is a diet that's been around for a while, and there's a few claims out there about it. So I want to take you through the background behind it, the basis behind it, and then also hopefully give you some knowledge so you can decide whether you should be paying attention to it or not. Look, before we get into the alkaline diet, we have to go through something called the pH scale, stay with me now because the pH scale is a measure of how acidic or alkaline something is. So it's a scale that ranges from zero to 14, zero being extremely acidic and 14 being extremely alkaline. So some examples of that stomach acid has a pH of one, lemon juice has a pH of two, pure water is what we call neutral, which means it has a pH of seven. So seven is right in the middle of acidic and alkaline. Baking soda has an alkalinity of nine and bleach has an alkalinity of 13. And so everything has a pH and we can place it on that scale. So the alkaline diet refers to its ability to make your body a higher pH, and I'll go into that a little bit later. Essentially it was developed in the early, I think it was 1910, something around in that time when they were burning foods in a calorimeter to work out the calories that they contained. So essentially they'd put food in a what's called a bomb calorimeter, they would combust it, they would burn it and they would measure the energy that it gave off, and that's how they would know that an apple contains 80 calories, right? Now, what they did after that is they took the ash from that burnt food, they mixed it with water and then they tested the pH of that ash, and that's how they started to classify foods as either alkaline or acidic. So it's important to note that it's more about what the food looks like after it's been combusted or burnt, because this is a vague idea of what goes on in your body as well, right? We break it down, we combust it, we burn it. So some foods that were classified as acidic were foods that were like sugar, whole grains, egg yolk, dairy, meat, canned foods, they were all classified as acidic. And in the alkaline camp we have foods like veggies, low sugar fruits, soy products, nuts, seeds, legumes, and a bunch of other things, okay? So the idea is that those are your alkaline foods and the other foods I mentioned are your acidic foods. And by consuming more alkaline foods and avoiding or reducing acidic foods you are changing your body's pH, okay? You're making it either more acidic or more alkaline based on the food that you choose to consume. So the thing is, pH is very, very, very important for chemical reactions, okay? Changing the pH of something is going to affect a chemical reactions ability to occur. And so what that means is, if we change the pH of a system, let's for example call our body the system. If we change our body's pH, the chemical reactions that are occurring, I think it's something like 20 billion, some insane number like that, those chemical reactions are always occurring. If we were able to dramatically change our pH, the rate or the ability of those chemical reactions to occur would change, okay? So I guess the good news is that we can't really dramatically change our body's pH, and in fact, the only time where our body's pH does markedly change is in pretty dire situations, okay? Because the thing is, our kidneys and our lungs pay very, very close attention to our bodies pH and they do a very, very good job of keeping it nice and stable. So our lungs release carbon dioxide, which helps decrease the acidity of the system, and our kidneys are constantly filtering our blood, right? They're constantly removing acidic products, alkaline products, they're taking all of those out of our blood and then excreting them via our urine to make sure that our blood stays between a very, very tightly regulated 7.35 to 7.45, sorry on that pH scale that I mentioned before. So if blood moves outside of that pH scale, pretty terrible things happen, okay? So fortunately, if our lungs and our respiratory system and then also our kidney and our renal system is working efficiently, we can be confident that our pH is going to stay in that range. So what that means though, is because the body is filtering these products out and because the kidney is filtering the blood and then excreting those products in the urine, our urinary pH can change pretty dramatically, right? If we've got lots of acidic things in our blood and the body's getting rid of that, then it's going to make our urine very acidic. And this can be part of the problem of the acid, alkaline diet is that people measure their urinary pH to measure how successful they're being on the diet. So if they see that their urine's pH is increasing they feel like their they're being more acidic, whereas if their urine's pH is becoming more alkaline they feel like they're being successful on the diet. The thing is, the urine's pH is only becoming more alkaline because it's having to maintain your blood's pH. So your urine's pH can range from 4.5 to 8.5 whilst your blood's pH is going to stay between 7.35 to 7.45. And that's part of the, I guess, what happens when people are doing the alkaline diet and feel they're being successful, it's pretty much just their body is adapting to the food that they're giving it, they're not actually changing their internal or their systems pH. The reason the alkaline diet gets promoted for its apparent ability to reduce cancer, that's a very, very big one, but more recently for its ability to apparently destroy COVID-19, I'm sure there's a whole host of other illnesses out there that the alkaline diet will supposedly cure, it's because using cancer is an example, cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment. If we test the area around cancer cells in the body, it is acidic. So I guess the reasoning makes sense, right? "Well, cancers likes an acidic environment, why can't I try and make that environment more alkaline?" But the thing is the environment becomes acidic, cancer cells create an acidic environment, an acidic environment doesn't create cancer cells, okay? In the same way that getting a runny nose doesn't give you a cold, a cold gives you a runny nose. The way that cancer cells use up energy and glucose and the way their metabolism works means that creating a whole host of hydrogen iron which increases the acidity of the surrounds, that's just how they naturally work. You can't change your body's pH and therefore starve the cancer cells. The other claim around other sorts of diseases is generally the one I read recently is that COVID-19, the coronavirus or the novel coronavirus can only survive at a certain pH. And so if you're eating foods at a higher pH that are more alkaline they're going to kill that virus. And what's probably happened is someone has put a virus in a Petri dish and put something that's alkaline on it, and it's died. The thing is, you can kill almost anything in a Petri dish. If you pour water on top of a Petri dish, it's going to kill the things that are in the Petri dish, that is not an effective or an accurate measure of that diet or that compound's ability to do anything in your body. So in summary, the alkaline diet does not work. That is very good news, because if you are able to dramatically change your body's pH, a lot of the chemical reactions that occur that keep you live would fall down, which means you too would probably fall down and never get back up. So the diet itself does not work. The things I like about the diet is a lot of the foods that are classified incorrectly as alkaline are great foods, right? Eating more vegetables and low sugar fruits, or just fruits in general, nuts seeds, legumes, soy, all of these are fantastically beneficial and healthy things that we should all be including. The unfortunate thing is then the acidic "Foods" that are supposed to be excluded include things like dairy and whole grains and lean meats and all of these things are also extremely beneficial. So I would suggest that maybe you should be including a wide range of all of those things. Really though, the main issue with the alkaline diet, the most dangerous part of this diet is what it encourages people to do is to stop seeking medical treatment in the belief that they can treat things like cancer or COVID-19 by eating more alkaline foods and reducing their acidic foods. And this is just simply not the case. So this is one of the main reasons I harp on about alkaline diet a lot. I like talking about it because I really, really, really want to get out there the idea that it does not work. It is not a diet that you should be following and you absolutely should not be saying no to proven medical treatments that can help with the disease and instead decide that you're just going to cut dairy. So I know I got a little bit science in there, hopefully that all kind of made sense. I forgot to check the time, so hopefully I've come in relatively short, but thank you very, very, very much for listening. If you liked this podcast, what do they say? I don't know I'm new to this, but something about you share it, you leave a review, if you could put a photo up in Instagram Stories and tag me, that'd be rad as well, but I will be throwing another episode up very soon. And I think, unless I change my mind, I'm going to be talking about artificial sweeteners, so I will chat to you then. See you.