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July 25, 2016
By L. Carr, Contributing Columnist
Diabetes is a modern health disaster. 9.3 percent of the US population
had diabetes in 2012 and 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with the
disease every year, according to the American Diabetes Association.
The condition costs the country upwards of $245 billion every year in
All the experts say that eating a healthy diet is one of the most
important things you can do to lower your diabetes risk.
But one specific diet is making headlines. Loved by celebrities, the
"alkaline diet" or "acid alkaline diet" is touted as a cure for headaches,
cancer, colds and flu – and especially diabetes.
What exactly is the alkaline diet? Can the acidity or alkalinity of your
food really affect your diabetes health? Could the alkaline diet actually
What Is the Alkaline Diet?
Let’s begin with a little chemistry lesson. The acid-base balance of a
food or drink is measured by something called pH – how acid or
alkaline a food is. A pH of 0 means something is highly acidic. A pH of 7
is neutral, and a pH of 14 is alkaline. The pH of food and drink affects
health as the body has a range of pH that it requires for optimum
functioning. The body, in normal situations, needs a pH of around 7.35
On the alkaline diet you are supposed to eat foods that produce zero
or very little acid like fresh fruit, vegetables, soy, some nuts, olive oil,
and beans. You avoid acid-producing foods like white flour, white
sugar, processed foods, meat, dairy, and alcohol.
Proponents of the alkaline diet state that the Western diet makes the
body more acidic and upsets the natural pH balance the body needs for
health – a process called "metabolic acidosis".
In addition, experts say that an overly acidic diet leads to a loss of
calcium, potassium, and magnesium from the body which causes health
Supporters say that the diet helps correct certain health conditions like
cancer and diabetes. And, of course, the alkaline diet is believed to aid
weight loss. Weight loss has an important impact on diabetes.
Can You Eat an Alkaline Diet With Diabetes?
Since the alkaline diet has a strong focus on vegetables and limiting
sugar and processed foods, it is similar to the type of diet plan given to
diabetics. The alkaline diet doesn’t have to be strictly vegetarian, and it
is quite flexible.
Anyone with diabetes, especially diabetics who are already on medicine
that lowers blood sugar, should check that the diet does not make
your blood sugar levels too low, increasing the risk for hypoglycemia.
So, you can eat an alkaline diet with diabetes – but should you? Is an
alkaline diet really all that beneficial for someone with diabetes? Could
it even help heal the condition?
Yes, the Alkaline Diet Really Does Help Heal Diabetes
Human studies are lacking in the precise area of alkaline diets for
healing and preventing diabetes, but some studies do show a
significant benefit of the diet for tackling diabetes.
Here's what we know. For example, a 2015 study from The University
of Sydney in Australia says that metabolic acidosis, the process that
takes place when the body becomes more acidic, is linked to insulin
resistance independent of obesity.
Insulin resistance is induced by a higher acid load in the body, the
researchers say, and therefore the alkaline diet that reduces acid in the
body should be beneficial for lowering the risk of insulin resistance. The
study looked at 104 men and women and their insulin sensitivity.
A 2014 study by the Center for Research in Epidemiology and
Population Health, France, demonstrates the crucial link ---that dietary
acid load is positively associated with increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
The scientists concluded that the proof of this link between acidity and
diabetes “may lead to promotion of diets with a low acid load for the
prevention of diabetes.”
And a 2011 study from Hospital General Juan Cardona, La Coruña,
Spain confirmed the strong causal link between acid load and diabetes.
The study found that metabolic acidosis increases insulin resistance
and high dietary overload is more likely to result in diabetes. Eating
fewer acid-producing foods would therefore lower the risk of metabolic
acidosis and help heal diabetes.
But Other Experts Are Uncertain
However, before you conclude that the alkaline diet is ideally suited to
managing diabetes, there are studies that fail to reach this conclusion.
A 2016 study from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney,
Australia says that while large studies such as those mentioned above
link a high dietary acid load with the development of diabetes, there are
no studies specifically linking the effect of the alkaline diet on healing
While dietary acid is linked to insulin resistance, there is no proof that
switching to an alkaline diet will actually make a difference to your
Some Studies Say the Alkaline Diet Has No Effect on Diabetes
On the other end of the scale, studies show that dietary acid does not
affect insulin sensitivity or the risk of diabetes.
A 2014 study by the Karolinska University Hospital at the Karolinska
Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden looked at 911 Swedish men over a time
period of 18 years and did not find a link between the alkaline diet and
In actual fact, nothing you eat substantially changes the pH of your
blood. You already have efficient mechanisms in place within the body
to keep the pH level constant.
So, is the alkaline diet any use for diabetes?
Bottom Line --The Alkaline Diet Works, But Not in the Way They Say
While there is debate about whether lowering acid levels in the body
helps to prevent and cure diabetes, there is plenty of evidence that
eating a healthy diet can help heal the condition and lower your risk –
and that lowing weight is particularly beneficial.
A 2014 study by University College London in the UK shows that
weight loss at any age lowers your risk for diabetes.
Adults who drop a BMI category – from obese to overweight, or from
overweight to normal – at any time in their lives can reduce the risk of
diabetes and heart disease.
The alkaline diet can help you lose weight, mainly because of its focus
on vegetables and fruits. Moreover, the “good” foods on the diet
include fruits, vegetables, lots of water, and limited sugar and
processed meals. In addition to being a healthy way to eat as a general
matter, this way of eating can help you manage diabetes. Following the
alkaline diet to the letter may be tough for many people, but sticking to
its rules regarding healthy eating can make a big difference to diabetes
prevention and cure.
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|Alkaline diets feature plenty of fruits and