Feeling sick and unhealthy? It's because you eat too many acidic foods that make your body equally acidic and harm your health. Eat more alkaline (opposite of acidic) foods to heal your body! But if our blood pH fluctuated that easily, we'd all be in serious trouble.
Image by Rob.Bertholf.
Gurus behind the popular "alkaline diet" say that what you eat and drink leaves behind an ash residue (true) that can drastically alter the pH, or acid level, in your body and blood (not quite true) and potentially spiral you into poor health. There are many wild claims and theories, but the message is essentially: Eat more alkaline foods. Alkaline foods are basically fruits and vegetables, whereas protein-, sulphur- and phosphate-containing foods like dairy, meat and alcohol are more acidic. Let's be clear: Normal blood pH hovers between 7.35-7.45. If your blood pH goes outside this range, your cells would die. Chris Kresser notes:
The body tightly regulates the pH of our blood and extracellular fluid, and we cannot influence our blood pH by changing our diet. (5, 6) High doses of sodium bicarbonate can temporarily increase blood pH, but not without causing uncomfortable GI symptoms. (7, 8) And there are certainly circumstances in which the blood is more acidic than it should be, and this does have serious health consequences. However, this state of acidosis is caused by pathological conditions such as chronic renal insufficiency, not by whether you choose to eat a salad or a burger.
In other words, your kidneys help regulate your blood pH by filtering and buffering your blood and excreting excess acid through your urine. If you ate bacon and eggs, you would pee out more acid than someone who had an apple. Alkaline dieters point to the pH of their urine as proof of their claims, but urine is a really bad, unreliable indicator of overall pH in the body and your health. It is a sign your kidneys are working properly, since its job is to throw out the stuff your body doesn't need.
The Acid-Alkaline Myth: Part 1 [Chris Kresser]