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Does An Alkaline Diet Help You Lose Weight? A Review Of The Evidence

Probably the first scientific studies on digestion were done by Ivan Pavlov who became famous for his ‘salivating dogs’. Pavlov showed that the digestive enzymes released and the amount of acid secreted depends on the type of food.

His experiments with rats showed that starches are digested in about two hours, proteins are digested in about four hours but a protein-starch mixture could still be digesting 13 hours later. With dogs, again the protein-starch mixture took over twice as long compared to the same food consumed separately.

Pavlov also showed that food taken on top (i.e. before digestion has completed) can lead to fermentation. This happens when you eat fruit after a meal; many people say that it gives them gas.

What could account for Pavlov’s results?

The enzymes essential for digestion only function at specific pH levels; proteins and carbohydrate enzymes require opposite pH levels. If you mix them together in the same bag, you won’t be able to digest either food properly.

“Most fruits go straight through the stomach into the duodenum for digestion, which means if you put fresh fruit on top of a big meal, it has to sit and wait in the top of the stomach until the other food is digested, during which delay bacteria attack the fruit and ferment it, gobbling up all the nutrients and leaving you with gas and metabolic wastes.”
Daneil Reid, Trophology: The Science of Food Combining, “The Tao of Health”.

In 1908 Dr Howard Hay after practicing medicine for 16 years developed High Blood Pressure, Brights Disease and a dilated heart. As there was no treatment available, Dr Hay decided to find a cure for his own symptoms. He looked at his food intake and the chemical process of digestion, the enzymes that are essential for this process and whether the food has an overall acidifying or alkalizing effect on the body.

To the amazement of his colleagues, he had a complete remission of his symptoms in 3 months of changing his diet. He also reduced his weight by 20kg’s. In 1911 he introduced his Food Combining guidelines and gave lectures till his death about the need to combine foods properly and reducing acidifying foods from the diet.

If you think there’s nothing to acid-alkaline food combining, try this: one day for lunch eat a steak with chips, and monitor how you feel after an hour or so. Next day eat the same steak, but with a large vegetable salad. Which day did you feel more tired, drowsy?

Try feeding your dog meat and biscuits for a while, see how he feels!

Try an acidifying McDonald’s diet for a month.

If you’re still alive, try an alkaline diet of alkaline water, fruits, vegetables, juices and super greens for a month. You’re guaranteed to lose weight from this diet – it’s over 95% water!

Some doctors maintain that all food is acid in the stomach and becomes alkaline in the intestines from the pancreas secretions. The blood pH range is so narrow that any measurable change would cause death. Even a bottle of ant-acids won’t affect the acidity of the stomach for long.

These scientific facts don’t mean that an alkaline diet is useless or that the body can magically process food in any old combination!

Remember Pavlov’s results? Why are so many people that eat at McDonald’s fat and why did Spurlock nearly die? The fat content is not that high – a Big Mac apparently is 100% grilled beef, the chips are fried in vegetable oil and there’s no fat in the cola! Could it be the acid, the high glycemic load and the bad combinations?

Such foods play havoc on our blood sugar and pH levels. As Daniel Reid explains the sugary ‘soft drink’ is an ‘acid bomb’:
“A 350 ml serving of Coke, Pepsi or similar drink delivers a sugar fix equivalent to about 9 teaspoons of sugar straight into the blood stream. This instantly acidifies the bloodstream to the extreme point that without an immediate emergency response from the body, it would kill you in a mater of minutes…you’d have to drink 32 glasses of alkaline water to neutralize the blood pH…to prevent death by acidosis, the body reacts swiftly by drawing huge amounts of organic calcium from the bones and teeth and pouring it into the bloodstream to neutralize the excess acid and quickly restore alkaline balance. Calcium is the body’s most potent alkalizing agent”

Are there any clinical studies to settle this issue?

A study called “Cola beverage consumption induces bone mineralization reduction in ovariectomized rats” (the rats were fed cola – acid, pH 2.5 – and the effects on bone density measured) suggests that “heavy intake of cola soft drinks has the potential of reducing femoral mineral density”.

Dr L. Frassetto’s team at the University of California discovered that as we age, starting around age 45, we lose the alkaline buffer bicarbonates in our blood:

“Our group has shown that contemporary net acid-producing diets do indeed characteristically produce a low-grade systemic metabolic acidosis in otherwise healthy adult subjects, and that the degree of acidosis increases with age, in relation to the normally occurring age-related decline in renal functional capacity.”

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that alkalizing diets improve bone density and serum growth hormone concentrations; the acidosis resulting from acidic diets contributes to bone and muscle loss.

Sang Whang in his book “Reverse Aging” proposed a Theory of Aging: we age because we gradually accumulate organic acid wastes. These wastes show up as uric acid, urate, sulfate, phosphate, kidney stones and other organic wastes often surrounded by cholesterol. Cellulite is a gel-like substance made up of fat in which are trapped acid wastes in pockets below the skin.

Dr Robert Young, author of “The pH Miracle” has been saying this for years – “Obesity is an acid problem, the fat is saving our lives.”

Should I eat alkaline foods and stop eating acidifying things like red meats?

Yes eat plenty of water-rich alkaline foods; but there’s no need to avoid any food that contains good nutrients in it like my favorites lamb kebabs and sashimi. As Patrick Holford, author of ‘The Optimum Nutrition Bible’ says “moderation in everything, including moderation”‘!

Acid-alkaline diet food charts come from the pH of the ash that results from burning food; it’s caused by the unburned minerals. However, just as burning petrol creates exhausts, over 97% of any food metabolized creates acid wastes. At less than 1%, alkaline minerals are a fraction of the nutritional content of food and the overall acidity produced.

Clinical studies show that alkaline mineral water is the best way to obtain alkaline minerals and acid waters like colas are the best way to quickly deplete them!

The most nourishing alkaline foods are nature’s super greens – spirulina, barley and wheat grass powders. Mix half a tea spoon in alkaline water daily. This will give you more nutrients then a basket full of vegetables. Other super foods are EFA oils and bee pollen.

So eat a nutritionally balanced diet of natural whole foods and combine them sensibly. Most of all drink lots of alkaline mineral water.

Your weight will take care of itself.

James Khan is the editor of a mind-body health resource. He has been detoxifying, fasting and cleansing himself for over 15 years, and has been practicing Yogic, Tibetan and Taoist traditions for 30+ years.