As some of you remember, I promised I would start answering your questions here in my blog, and I'm going to begin with this one:
"I've seen quite a few changes on how to control weight and it's starting to get confusing to me. First it was calories intake, then it was carbs, and now I keep hearing about acidic food and balancing the PH. What is all that?"
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Well, the question is complex, indeed, so I decided to answer it in several pieces. I'll start by the part of balancing the pH, since I honestly hadn't heard of it and I was curious. I'll do my best to be objective about this answer and provide you with scientific backgrounds for this post, but what I'm writing here is my opinion. I'm no doctor, nutritionist or dietician.
The Alkaline diet, according to Wikipedia, "is a diet based on the belief that certain foods, when consumed, leave an alkaline residue, or ash, in the body". According to this diet, this ash may be acidic residue or alkaline residue, which affects our body's pH balance. A website that advocates this diet, claims that "the typical western diet is acidifying, meaning that it consists primarily of foods that have an ongoing acidifying effect on the body."
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Another website says that "as a result, many people nowadays suffer from the over-acidification of their body, also known as acidosis." In addition, they claim that "symptoms of a pH imbalance can be weight problems such as overweight and underweight, as well as other health conditions such as allergies, arthritis, acne and heart attacks."
Both websites provide a list of foods that leave alkaline residues, a special diet to follow and some extras, such as alkaline water and some nutritional supplements to help you with your pH diet. They also suggest you measure your urine's and saliva's pH level to control your blood's acid-base balance. You can check the links if you want to see for yourself.
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I didn't read the websites through, I admit, because I felt that they were making very unsolid claims that I had to check out. I started by checking out what acidosis is, and found out that it's "a condition in which there is too much acid in the body fluids", according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It can be classified as respiratory or metabolic acidosis. Since the first one is completely related to lungs and chest problems, I discarded it a went with metabolic acidosis.
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Furthering my research on metabolic acidosis, I found out that it can be caused by diabetes, severe diarrhea, dehydration, liver failure, cancer, poisoning, kidney disease, lack of oxygen, seizures, medication, genetic disorders, alcohol consumption and prolonged exercise. Symptoms include rapid breathing, confusion or lethargy, shock and death, in extreme cases.
As far as I can see, you can't have acidosis just by eating certain kinds of food. Also, I didn't see any indications that acidosis leads to weight problems. I believe they're oversimplifying the problem and, in my humble opinion, this diet is just another way to sell a product. You shouldn't scare the pants out of people into buying your products. That's unethical and leads to confusion.
This turned out to be a long post, even though I cut back on many things I wanted to say. To the reader who asked, I will say this. If a diet includes something you have to buy, run away. I mean it! There are no pills, magic water (!) or supplements that will make you thinner. The best way to lose weight permanently is to eat healthier and exercise. I'll write more about it in the future. Thanks for asking!