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Diet Monday: The Alkaline Diet

George Severson

Diet Monday: The Alkaline Diet

CREATED Feb. 9, 2012

PALM DESERT - What do some of Hollywood's leading ladies, fashion experts and the NFL's leading players all have in common? Their diet plan. It's called the Alkaline Diet.

The diet is based on the philosophy that feeling out of balance isn't just a mind game. It's rooted in your body chemistry.

For years, a mysterious illness was sidelining Jan Brehm, an Alkaline Dieter. "I have been in the emergency rooms three times thinking I had a heart attack, and it was acid," Brehm claims. Jan thought her eating habits could be the culprit, so she decided to try the alkaline diet.

Registered dietician Erin Palinski says it's based on the philosophy that what we eat and drink affects our body chemistry, or p-h level, which is naturally "alkaline" at 7.4.  The goal is to keep that level in check.

"The people that promote the alkaline diet state that by being able to increase your intake of alkaline forming foods, and decrease your intake of acidic foods, you can actually alter the chemistry in your body," says Palinski.

Promoting things like weight loss, improved immunity, and even disease prevention, celebrity nutritionist Dr. Lindsey Duncan is a proponent of the alkaline diet. He says our meals are increasingly acidic, and our bodies are paying the price.

"Cardiovascular disease, depression, forgetfulness, poor mood, mind, memory," all things affected by diet says Duncan.

To reverse this, Dr. Duncan recommends avoiding meals packed with acidic foods like wheat, dairy, meat, fish, sugar, and caffeine. Instead, he says, load your plate with p-h balancers.

"Anything that's dark, leafy, and green. The general rule of thumb is the more bitter your foods, the more alkaline," says Duncan 

Other examples include watermelon, almonds, oranges and apples. Jan says she felt a difference within days of making the switch.

"Not only does the fatigue lift, but the mood shift, energy," Brehm claims.

Palinski says that while the alkaline diet dishes up healthy foods with actual science behind them, when it comes to p-h level. there have been no human medical research studies that prove any of the claims of the alkaline diet.

 "Our body really naturally, unless we have some kind of health problem, is going to keep our pH within the optimal level," Palinski says. She says the diet can also be restrictive, and some take it to the extreme, consuming supplements that promise to boost your ph, or even ingesting baking soda.

"This can make the body too alkaline and bring it outside of the optimal range, and that can actually have potentially deadly side effects," warns Palinski

But Dr. Duncan says there are plenty of studies that show the health benefits of alkaline foods, and that balance is the key.

"The proper ratio of food is 70-75% alkaline and 25-30% acid," says Duncan.

While experts continue to debate the food and p-h level connection, Jan says she is a believer.

"All I have is what I've experienced, and the difference that I feel is night and day," says Brehm.

Some alkaline dieters test their p-h daily with strips, which are available at the drugstore. 

 Dr. Dan Cosgrove who practices internal and preventatvie medicine at Wellmax in La Quinta says his take on the diet is that it is healthy. He says eating alkaline foods - like leafy greens - are always better for you than eating acidic foods like meat and processed foods. He says our bodies mantain blood p-h very tightly at about 7-point-4 and ph doesn't actually change that much at all with diet.