May 24

Can You Change Your Body PH? The Alkaline Diet Scam

Filed under Raw Food & Health by Frederic Patenaude

I recently received the following question from a reader:

Fred,

A few years back my mom was following pretty much Dr Robert Young alkalarian diet – with NO fruit at all, where he considers fruits – high sugar content ones specially – to be acidic, as a perfect and only greatest discovery diet ever.

I would like you to say something about this ‘insanity’ of not eating any fruits. What do you think about high content sugar fruits to be acidic to the body?

To be more specific, I have been eating much more fruits than greens nowadays, and my family is pretty much concerned about my eating choices, so I want to be able to show them a consistent answer about this choice and why it has nothing to do with Dr Young’s Alkalarian diet.

Hope to hearing from you soon.

ANSWER BY FREDERIC:

I’m familiar with Dr. Young’s approach, and as I’ve always said, every diet has something to offer usually because of the bad things they *remove* rather than what they add in. The Alkalarian diet by Dr. Young does a good job at removing some of the most unhealthy foods most people eat, but is completely misguided when it comes to its recommendation on avoiding fruit.

First of all, Dr. Young is wrong in implying that what you eat or drink has any effect on your body’s PH. It’s actually pretty embarrassing that he would even say something like that, given that he pretends to be a scientist.

Your body and your blood maintain a stable PH that *never changes significantly* no matter what you eat or drink! Therefore you cannot make your body “acidic” or “alkaline” by eating a certain food or avoiding certain foods. In fact, if your blood’s PH changed significantly it would mean *very bad news* for your health, it would mean your body did not have enough mineral reserves to buffer the change and bring yourself back to neutral.

The body always wants to be at homeostasis, if it changed constantly one way or the other you would likely not be alive, the body is very intelligent and has evolved in a way that it can handle almost anything you drink or eat and yet remain at the same PH.

That being said, the foods you eat can become acidic or alkaline *after they are digested.* This means that certain foods, after they are digested, will produce acidity in the digestive tract, and others will produce alkaline base materials. But remember that technically speaking, the digestive system is *outside* the human body! F

rom your mouth to your colon is a complete system that is not actually part of the rest of your body, nothing goes directly into your blood without being processed, and filtered. Picture a date and its stone pit, the stone being the digestive track and the date itself being the body. One is inside and one is outside.

Some people test the PH of their urine and think it means anything, but it doesn’t since urine, again, is outside of the body and bloodstream. The only way to test the PH of your body would be to test the blood.

Your digestive system and organs only use what it needs and not everything you eat or drink “hits” your bloodstream. You cannot make your blood acidic or alkaline, it always stays the same PH. The body uses what it needs from the digestive tract and discards what it doesn’t through waste products and those never “enter” the body or affect your PH.

Whether a food produces an alkaline or acidic reaction after digestion is measured by a chart known in medical science as the “Renal Acid Load Chart.”

If you study this chart, you’ll discover that *all* fruits and *all* vegetables are alkaline-forming. On the other hand, animal products are quite acid-forming while grains and beans are slightly acid forming.

The acidity created from the digestion of certain “acid-forming foods” must be buffered by the alkaline mineral reserves of the body. That’s why it’s important to eat diet composed mainly of alkaline foods such as fruits and vegetables.

What this means to you, is that you need to eat more fruits and vegetables to have more alkaline mineral reserves generally in your bones. If you eat only meat and grains, your body will take alkaline minerals from your bones to buffer any extra acid produced in digestion and that can lead to problems like osteoporosis where you have weak or brittle bones from a lack of certain minerals like calcium which is alkaline.

Please note that I said it’s important to eat “fruits and vegetables” and not just “vegetables.”

Also keep in mind that the body and the blood themselves are not getting more alkaline or acidic by the foods you eat. Anyone who says the contrary is just making stuff up, and claiming that fruits are acid-forming because of their fruit “acids” and somehow harm the body is even more ludicrous.

Ask any medical practitioner or even med student and they will tell you that it’s impossible and that the blood or body cannot change PH based on what you eat. It just doesn’t work that way.

This also goes for alkaline or acidic water, water is buffered by the body just like food, so don’t be duped into thinking the PH of your drinking water means anything, especially when you’re eating a high mineral diet of fruits and vegetables. Your body is getting more than enough to maintain it’s reserves to buffer any slight change from what is produced by digestion.

Eat your fruits, eat your vegetables, and you’ll be healthy!

10 Responses to “Can You Change Your Body PH? The Alkaline Diet Scam”

  1. M. West says:

    Thanks for posting the info. I am a naturopathy student in Australia and read the book, ‘the pH miracle’ in my first term and was very confused as to why fruit could ever be blacklisted. I still of course continued to eat it after reading the book, based on simple common sense more than anything.

    I am now in my final year and have since gone to study anatomy and physiology, medical science, microbiology and pathology in a lot greater detail (including metabolic acidosis/alkalosis)

    I respect scientific findings, but always take them with a grain of salt. To me anecdotal experience is far more important. My only interest here is supporting people to improve their health.

    From speaking to a lot of senior naturopaths, it would appear that many of their unscientific, unproven and sometimes even ‘dangerous’ treatments/methods (according to science) basically for want of a better word, work, AND have continued to work for the last 20-30 years with hundreds of cases of certain health conditions.

    So the question is, who do you believe? Someone with a well respected academic position, or someone with years of anecdotal clinical experience?

    I can think of a few examples: Licorice will raise bp. But just how much would you need to ingest to do it is never mentioned, and if you investigate it one would need to take well above the recommended weekly dose to effect BP. Gallbladder flush is rubbish and only emulsified oil and salts is passed, but yet multiple GB cases with before and after scans showing the stones have shifted along with drastic health improvements. St. Johns Wort with the contraceptive pill, it enhances liver clearance via cytochrome P450 so therefore it is contraindicated. Echinacea shouldn’t be used with auto immune disorders etc etc…. The list goes on.

    I am just saying please don’t immediately disregard anecdotal experience based on modern science, i.e. it is useless until proven effective with multiple double blind, placebo controlled studies.

    If it works and does no harm, great.

  2. chaplin says:

    I was thinking the same but I was not 100 % sure; now I’m pleased that Fredereic clarified this. Thanks for the info !

  3. Angie says:

    As a western medical professional I felt the need to comment on some of the things in the article and in the comments that people seem to be confused about. I hope this helps

    A few things….

    “impossible to change pH…” I know Fred says “significantly”, which makes this statement technically true, but pH CAN be changed significantly but it causes GIANT PHYSIOLOGICAL DISTRESS, not minor symptoms or complaints. pH imbalances in the body are extremely dangerous. They can occur and you are right that they will occur if the buffering of the body fails which comes from it’s stores and reserves.

    Buffering of the body takes place in the stomach with acid, the intestine with bile, pancreatic juice and along the bowel with secreted enzymes, and the colon with water absorption. This continues in the blood as it travels through the enteric and then the hepatic blood systems towards the liver. The liver is our filter and works towards balance and toxin removal, this comes first, right after the blood leaves the intestine to protect us against anything the gut may have erroneously let in. The then blood itself is a buffer, then as the blood continues round the body, lymph and the kidneys help to manage pH too. All these parts at any given time may be slightly acid or slightly basic (SLIGHTLY) as they work toward a neutral pH. You can take a series of blood tests along a timeline and have a different pH each time. Even dehydration causes swings and we are 97% water. This swinging back and forth is also why our blood sugar fluctuates after a meal and why taking your blood sugar is a prescribed schedule and not a free for all, take it when you want. Everything in the body floats back and forth between slightly acidic and slightly basic… but CUMULATIVELY it is neutral.

    ALL chemical processes are balances, or equilibriums, they are constantly swinging back and forth from product and reactants…. salt water is sometimes salt and water, and sometimes dissolved Na+ and Cl+, when the molecules bump into each other they break apart or join momentarily, but we don’t call it salt and water, we call it salt water because it is both, salt and water, and salt-and water.

    “outside the body” the intestines or digestive tract are part of the body but the surface which food interacts is an external surface. This makes them “external” to the body. Food remains external to the body and since ppl understand our digestive system as being a food intake system, this statement is true but semantically confusing.

    “Urine pH” There can be changes in pH of the urine, and in general this is a good thing, excess is being driven out of the body as waste, your body is buffering. Good for your body. I suppose that urine pH could be an indicator of the internal environment, but more likely how well the body is clearing out that environment. Diet is a big factor on how much you need to clear out. But luckily your body can clear a lot.

    What people need to understand is that the body absorbs what you put in, to a large extent it will only take what it needs, but if all you are giving it is crap it has no other choice than to use that crap. The body does not know that tomorrow you intend to improve your diet, it only has what you give it. It does do it’s best to make the best of what you give it, but won’t just absorb nothing because all there is is crap. You need fuel everyday and the body only knows today and storing for tomorrow, it doesn’t wait for better.

    Also some drugs, toxins or metals can enter the body via the digestive tract simply because they are soluble or available. This is why we should care what we put in. Fruit is not toxic nor is sugar a drug, therefore excluded from this conversation. The gut is not perfect and will absorb anything its enzymes break down, like gluten for a celiac, gluten is BAD for humans but because they have Zonulin (an enzyme) it is broken down into gliadin and absorbed. Other enzymes can cleave or make available bad things as well as good, but they are specific enough that with a good balanced diet we get all we need. Also if all you give your body is fat, you will be fat…. the enzymes will break it down, you will absorb it and it will be stored in the body. The gut doesn’t care if you have already eaten a large amount of fat, it will continue to break it down. This is evolutionary and important as our bodies want to protect themselves and in times of plenty this will mean creating stores.

    The chemical equation for water is H2O, this leaves no room for anything else, so when we are talking about drinking water we are not talking about H2O. We are talking about mineralized water that contains (typically) sodium (Na+), phosphate (K+), Magnesium (Mg+) ect… Being alkaline or acidic can simply mean differing amounts of these or another substance added to water. You are right, some spring water is acidic, but it is not a pH of 3 or 2 or 1, because it would kill you. I have not specifically researched the pH of spring waters but are certain they are not so acidic or basic they would be chemically considered a strong acid or a strong base. Strong acids and bases have the potential to overthrow the body’s buffers but weak acids or bases usually cannot with the proper balance and available balancing agents and reserves.

    What substances and their concentrations in the water determine its pH and why do you want to drink altered water? filtered is one thing, big things are removed according to size or attraction to the filter’s materials. But to make water acidic or basic is to add or take away from water that is neutral or fairly close to it. I am not sure what exactly makes the water one or the other… and you are right, stomach acid at a pH of ~1 is a stronger bigger meaner acid than any form of something still close enough to be called H2O.

    “nothing else was changed” “placebo effect” You can never control a human unless they are under observation (which very few humans will consent too) and certainly it is unrealistic to consider that patients faced with a diagnosis of cancer would not change anything but their water as a means of treatment. I am not saying they went out and secretly took chemo… but there is the placebo effect to consider. These people knew they were unhealthy or had cancer (as there was ZERO quoted studies I cannot verify the information provided) and were provided with a substance, there is a strong indication that by being given a substance after being diagnosed with cancer that it is meant as a treatment. The faith of the people also matters, and the fact that the water could not have been properly concealed or considered to be the only form of water consumed unless people were supervised 24hrs/day. Trials, even with drugs from well funded pharmaceutical companies, must acknowledge the uncontrolled variables, and what is possible to have changed. No trial that does not include supervision claims that NOTHING ELSE WAS CHANGED. People will fight for their lives. These trials are about utilizing an intervention among many people who will all take it in addition to all the things people facing these conditions will do.

    Thank you for pointing out the link between those selling the water and toting its effects all while quoting the studies they have not provided. Seriously. I test drugs. I do not sell the drugs. I do not receive a financial benefit from wether or not the study is positive or negative, or if the drug sells. In fact, publishing a negative study enhanced my position in science by conveying the truth without bias and establishing my methods as being careful science. This is the point of science, integrity and honest reporting and acknowledgement of the limitations of the experiment and its hypothesis. What we guess/hypothesize as the cause is still just a guess, only the results are true, how we explain them is up for debate until no further dis-proof can be found. Truth in science is often the most accepted hypothesis, not truth as some people use it to mean indisputable fact. Science actually uses “laws” when its hypotheses are so well accepted that there is not room for anymore dispute.

    “those who switched their diets got better” I am sure they did. Diet counts as per all the reasons above. Does diet cure cancer? I don’t know, not always, maybe, it could. Do we know this for sure? no. I am sure that there are many raw vegans who die of cancers along with meat eaters. But no one ever goes out and preaches how to get cancer, they are perhaps too embarrassed to say anything if they feel or are told or know that their diet caused their bodies harm. BUT PLEASE EAT WELL. eat balanced, eat simple known ingredients. eat often, and eat for nutrition and pleasure. eat the right amounts to maintain weight and be healthy in other areas of life including exercise and emotional/mental health.

    “most people are willing to change their water” WHAT?!?!?! not me. I am not going to not drink water because I don’t have my special glass flask of special alkaline water with me. And I don’t know I’d want a specific kind of water that has been treated to become and stay on one side of its natural equilibrium, I am definitely not in agreeance with this. Also the people who participate in these studies likely agree with the philosophies of natural medicines or homeopathy or whom ever provided this magic water.

    Also, I have never used words like “magic”, “higher consciousness” or “heightened energy” to describe the physiological processes of drug or treatment function…. but oh yeah, she didn’t provide the studies she said prove the cure for cancer…. so i guess i can’t check if they did, but all their websites sure love those words, along with their youtube videos and publications, none of which contain accurately cited or supplied references. Although one did reference some ancient knowledge born in him from his ancestors. And a Myan scripture that apparently supported the 6 sided shapes in which the buildings around the spring he was at, proving it was protective and magical. But the Egyptians believed the pyramid was a good shape, but maybe his ancestors weren’t Egyptian. or they don’t matter because the building was 6 sided and that didn’t fit.

    Sigh, oh psuedoscience, how you twist your reasonings and proclaim to do good for power and control.

    If you have doubts about what I’m saying please see the following textbooks and medical references

    Guyton and Hall, Textbook of Medical Physiology, W. Saunders Co, 10th Edition, 2002.

    Boron and Boulpaep, Medical Physiology; updated edition, Elsevier Saunders, 2003

    Henry Gray FRS, The Complete Gray’s anatomy, Senate, 2003

    Wilson, Braunwald, Isselbacher, Petersdof, Martin, Fauci, Root. Principles of internal Medicine, McGraw Hill, Volume 1 and 2, 1991

    (yes this text is old, but still unchanged significantly today)

    Mathews, Van Holde, Ahern. Biochemistry. Addison Wesley Longman, 3rd Ed, 2000.

    also, Cell and Molecular Biology (Gerald and Karp)
    Biology (5th ed, Campbell, Reece and Mitchell)
    First Principles of Gastroenterology (Thompson and Schaffer)

  4. Monica says:

    Thank you Fred!!! I appreciate your integrity!

  5. Jack says:

    I and many of my customers have been entering the raw food world over the last couple of years. There’s lots of conflicting info out there that needs to be sorted through. Your bit here on acid/alkaline is the first thing I’ve read that feels right. I also just watched your lecture, what you say is not only common sense but also intuitively hits the spot for me.
    You’ve got a new fan :)

  6. gill says:

    dear fred,
    brilliant expo. but i thought the issue was that sugar itself leaves an acid residue drawing down mineral reserves to process. so high sugar fruits will have the same effect as a candy bar in this regard! i know there is a debate about fruit sugars versus refined table sugars etc but in the context of hypoglaecemia. i totally buy the argument that fruit does not cause the same sugar rush as a candy bar but i still have a niggle about the acid residue from the sugar in the fruit.

  7. Monica says:

    Fred, I agree with you about fruit. It’s preposterous to think that fruit could be bad in any way. For some reason, it seems to be trendy right now to be anti-fruit. I recently attended a conference for chiropractors and naturopaths, and they were all nodding their heads in agreement as the lecturer spoke of heavy meat and fat diet as being optimal, and blamed many illnesses on…fruit!!! How ridiculous is that? He even said that only ‘healthy’ people could get away with eating fruit, but only 1 or 2 pieces per day. Crazy!

    It’s common knowledge among alternative health practitioners that drinking freshly squeezed lemon juice will alkalize the body. How can this be when lemon is acidic? Because, it’s not about whether the food itself is acid or alkaline, but about its reaction in the body. Even though fruits like lemon, berries etc. are acidic, they actually have an alkalizing effect on the body.

    This isn’t true of everything acidic. Sodas are also very acidic but have an acidifying effect on the body. When I give away alkaline water to people, I always know when they are sneaking sodas, because the sodas cancel out the alkaline water and they don’t get results. Without fail, those who don’t drink sodas or sports drinks get results. (Many people had already quit drinking sodas, and were already very health conscious for a long time, and they got a new level of health when they added the alkaline water. So no, it’s not just because they quit the sodas, although that is obviously a factor for those who were soda drinkers.)

    The point here is that I know from experience that adding lemon juice or acidic fruits doesn’t interfere with the benefits of alkaline water, whereas adding soda does interfere. This shows that not all acidic substances react the same in the body. I don’t know enough about chemistry to explain why this is so, but it’s easily proven to be true, with simple observation. Those who eat lots of fruit, are vegan or high raw, including lots of acidic fruits, still do great and their urine pH stabilizes between 7 and 7.5, which is considered optimal by many alternative practitioners and is the threshold upon which we see dramatic healings occur.

    But those who drink sodas, remain in the 6 or even 5 pH range. A single soda will mess them up for days.

    Therefore, based on simple observation, it can be concluded that raw fruits, even the acidic ones, have an alkalizing effect on the body which is very positive, whereas acidic sodas have an acidifying effect on the body.

    Another example is meat and dairy, both of which aren’t acidic, but are acidifying. They have an acidifying effect in the body.

    My conclusion is that all raw fruits and vegetables are alkalizing to the body and therefore good, whereas animal ‘foods’ (sic), and artificial drinks like sodas and sports drinks, are acidifying.

  8. Christie says:

    Thanks for the great article and thanks Angie for the information.
    much appreciated!

  9. soaker says:

    Hi Fred,
    For perfect balance your urine should be 6.4 and your saliva also should be 6.4
    on the alkaline scale.That’s slightly on the acid side.If your saliva and urine are both 6.4 your blood will be 7.2 to 7.4 which is perfect PH for the blood stream.
    The above is part of the Biological Theory of Ionization by DR.Carey Reams.

  10. yamina says:

    Very interesting article and comments. I think, contrary to Angie, that a long time raw eater cannot die of cancer (until he has developed it before at such en extent that years of frugivorism were powerless to cure it !), because according to Dr Shelton, cancer is always providing from an infected body with animal proteins. There is no sudden and unexplained illnesses, all have their causes. What is said on inner and outside parts of body is also clarifying for me, because I found this notion a little bit “tirée par les cheveux”, the intestines being the center of nutrition.
    So, the salivary tests are quite unuseful. For me, I have a personal, cheap, permanently available barometer of acidity : a tooth ! When I have too much acid in my food, it begins to ring… Drrrrring ! If I hear its warnings, I will conserve it and my health !

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