Alkaline diet: Claims, facts, and foods

Some research suggests that following an alkaline diet might improve health in people with kidney disease. However, it does not achieve this by changing blood pH.

Rather, the alkaline diet encourages people to eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer processed meats and high-fat dairy products. For this reason, the alkaline diet may still improve health.

A handful of studies also show that eating low-acid foods improve health, even though they do not increase blood pH.

In this article, we look at claims surrounding the alkaline diet, whether they are true, and how the foods of the alkaline diet can improve health.

Does it work?

What many people believe to be the main benefit of the alkaline diet is false.

The alkaline diet promotes the false idea that it is possible to change blood pH with diet. This is untrue, and major changes in blood pH could even be life-threatening.

It is possible to change the pH of urine and saliva with diet. However, when the pH of these fluids changes, the pH of blood remains the same.

Alkalinity means that something has a pH higher than 7. The human body is naturally slightly alkaline, with a blood pH of around 7.4.

The stomach is acidic, which allows it to digest food. The pH of saliva and urine changes depending on diet, metabolism, and other factors.

Some research shows that cancer cells grow more rapidly in an acidic environment. Drawing on this research, supporters of the alkaline diet argue that a high blood pH could prevent cancer.

Studies on alkalinity and cancer, however, have typically involved cancer cells in a petri dish and not a human body.

The foods that people eat on this diet can, however, help some maintain a healthy body weight. Doing so can help prevent weight-related health issues such as diabetes.

People interested in trying an alkaline diet should eat more low-acid foods.

These include:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • seeds
  • legumes, such as lentils
  • tofu

Lentils, tofu, and some seeds are good sources of protein, but it is important to eat enough to make up for the removal of dairy products and meat.

People interested in trying an alkaline diet should avoid high-acid foods. These include:

  • dairy products such as cheese and milk
  • processed foods
  • fish
  • coffee
  • alcohol
  • soda


A diet rich in variety is the most healthful option. People should aim for a diet that includes a range of different proteins, grains, fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals.

Removing any single food group or type of food from a diet can make it more difficult for a person to be healthy. Very low-protein alkaline diets may help people lose weight, but they may also increase the risk of other issues, such as weak bones and muscles.

People who wish to try an alkaline diet should ensure that they eat enough protein. Those who are able to eat enough protein on an alkaline diet can safely try it.

While the alkaline diet does not actually change blood pH, it can help people eat a wide range of healthful foods, improving overall health.

People with serious medical conditions or a history of nutritional problems should consult a doctor before trying this diet.

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