NBSV 029: What’s the deal with alkaline diets? Does meat cause cancer because it’s acidic?
One of the trends in nutrition (and perhaps vegan nutrition in particular) is the “alkaline diet”, or the idea that we should be eating a balance of “acidifying” and “alkalizing” foods, with an emphasis on those that are “alkalizing”.
This practice is supposed to ward off disease, improve longevity, and increase health. We’re told that the more alkaline foods we eat, the more alkaline our entire bodies will become. What these pseudoscientists don’t seem to know is that any dramatic change toward alkalinity (or acidity) would kill you.
This doesn’t come up just as “the alkaline diet” as a full construct, but also in more offhanded ways when people refer to foods that are “alkalizing”. E.g. in marketing, when you hear about a product that’s “alkalizing”.
In this episode, I go through why the alkaline diet theory is not supported in the research, and also a common myth in the vegan world: the idea that meat is unhealthy because it "acidifies" our bodies.
I include material written by vegan powerlifter, Olympic lifter, and PhD in molecular biology Christine Crumbley.
Important topics and points you don't want to miss:
>> Proponents of the alkaline diet will tell you that an alkaline environment in the body will kill cancer cells. That’s technically correct. But what these never-took-highschool-biology pseudoscientists fail to mention is that all your other cells would die too. And so would you.
>> Our stomach acid (a.k.a. hydrochloric acid) is completely unchanged by the pH level of the foods we eat. And the pH of the digesting food in your intestines has no effect on the pH of the rest of your body. That’s just not how our bodies work. Different tissues have different pH levels. Any variations thereof and you’re in deep trouble.
>> Fruits and veggies are generally associated with reduced cancer risk, but there is no evidence they have to be consumed in any special pattern as proposed by the alkaline dietary theory.
>> A popular extension of the alkaline dietary theory is that it can be used as a treatment when someone is diagnosed with cancer. There is insufficient evidence for this claim, and more research is needed before the alkaline diet can be suggested as a component of treatment.
Link mentioned in the episode:
>> Article by Christine Crumbley: Is the "alkaline diet" legit? Does meat cause cancer because it's acidic? (Contains a list of 23 research references.)
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