4 Half-Truths about the Acid-Base Balance and the Alkaline Diet

4 Half-Truths about the Acid-Base Balance and the Alkaline Diet

The other day, during an unplanned visit in a raw food and detox smoothies store…

Alkaline water to restore body pH

What a wonderful premise for a comic about Evil Acid and the Mighty Alkaline Diet!

According to some people, our bodies are full of acid and constantly fight to preserve the acid-base balance, which wear us out and make us sick. It is said to cause illness, such as osteoporosis, eczema and even cancer.

Acid-base balance and blood pH do matter a great deal in medicine. There is also available research on how diet can impact those.

Unfortunately, we only hear half-truths on the matter. As an example, you can read online about a so-called “alkaline diet”, made out mostly of fruits and vegetables, which allegedly prevents multiple illnesses. Websites and books supporting that diet are full of claims like:

  • “Meat increases the levels of acid in the body!”
  • “Fruits and vegetables are alkalizing!”
  • “Acid excess is unhealthy! ”
  • “Cancer cells cannot grow in an alkaline body! ”

Those statements are more or less true… but more often than not, they’re part of a discourse which has no scientific ground, spread by people who don’t seem to understand how the human body works.

hippie meme acid-base balance

Let’s sort this out! This comic strip examines 4 half-truths regarding the acid-base balance… and adds the missing pieces of information that make up the whole picture.

Translated by Patricia Rainville; proofread by Stéphanie Alcaraz-Robinson.


4 Half-Truths about the Acid-Base Balance and the Alkaline Diet (header)

Some foods are acidic


Some foods are acidifying or alkalinizing

Too much body acid is unhealthy


The body fights to maintain the acid-base balance


Boring conclusion


Better conclusion




10 responses to “4 Half-Truths about the Acid-Base Balance and the Alkaline Diet

  1. References:

    Basic physiology of acid-base balance and description of different systems of adjustment of body pH. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/endocrine-and-metabolic-disorders/acid-base-regulation-and-disorders/acid-base-regulation

    This meta-analysis did not reveal any association between consumption of acidifying foods and bone loss. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21529374

    A high-protein diet is associated with better bone health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20717017

    Seniors who consume more protein have better bone health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11842948

    “Your Urine is Not a Window to Your Body pH”, a brilliant article by Scott Gavura. https://sciencebasedpharmacy.wordpress.com/2009/11/13/your-urine-is-not-a-window-to-your-body-ph-balancing-a-failed-hypothesis/

    Another excellent article that describes well the mass of pseudoscience surrounding the alkaline diet. http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2006/09/15/your-friday-dose-of-woo-acid-base-or-woo-1/

    Alkaline Water, according to a chemist. http://www.chem1.com/CQ/ionbunk.html

    Consumption of certain types of protein is monitored in astronauts. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4206848/

    Here is a nice paper to cite if you wanna go for pseudoscience. Make sure you do not read it before coming to hasty conclusions. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society/article/regulation-of-bone-cell-function-by-acidbase-balance/1459469356D2351B805C716FD140C92C


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  4. Thanks Oliver, for all, A buddy was disagnosed with cancer. Well, after surfing the net with him, i’m amazed at how many cures are out there for $187. (lol) if i was them i’d sell it to Merck for 5 billion !
    Regards, Mike

    • Hi Mike!
      Lots of “cures” indeed… And people suffering from cancer are among the most vulnerable of all, because they are being targeted by companies and therapists who desperately want to sell them products and services. Your buddy is lucky to have you help him navigate through all of this.
      Take care 🙂

  5. Thanks Oliver. Wondering if you have any research on collagen, Seems like lotsa “reputable”? Dr’s are for it, but, not surprisingly they also sell it :o)

    • As it happens, I’ve done a literature search about collagen supplements for a recent presentation.

      Their mechanism of action (stimulating the production of cartilage components through an immune response) is somewhat plausible. However, the clinical data does not support their efficacy so far.

      I’m getting questions on this topic quite often at the pharmacy, and my advice is that I’m fine with people trying it, but they have to be aware that it’s not supported by robust evidence, and that the quality of supplements is not verified by regulatory authorities. When informed about this, most people choose not to use them.

      Take care!


  6. tHanks Oliver.amazes me some “deemed to be reputable, swear by it, natch they sell it, not to mention overpriced. Also, i’ve read absorbability is measured in Daltons (lower better ) when i asked some sellers what theirs was–they had no answer.
    Any thoughts ?
    Thank you !

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