Is a Plant Centered Approach the Best Approach?
Its hard to figure out which diet is best in this era of ever-changing diet fads. While these fads come and go, one specific approach always wins- the plant based diet. While there is a general lack of consensus among researchers and clinicians, I think that a plant centered, alkaline diet is a healthy choice for my patients. Because of the confusion and lack of understanding about acid/alkaline balance, clinical application of this popular diet is challenging from a physiologic point of view due to a lack conclusive testing for status. Available research does make the compelling case that dietary acidosis is real and has significant relevance, especially if we look at it from an evolutionary point of view.
What we eat, drink, and breathe has everything to do with how our bodies are composed and how they fulfill the necessary biochemical processes, like acid-base regulation. The human body keeps a tightly controlled pH around 7.40 in the extracellular fluid. The issue is not a matter of acute acid-base disruption, rather that long term, chronic ingestion of acid producing foods and pharmaceuticals cause harm that studies have not yet been able to demonstrate.
There are three ways this shows up when we look at acid-alkaline regulation and biochemical processes- bone mineralization, muscle mass, and kidney stone formation. For example, our bones hold a reservoir of base substance and this can be compromised when faced with chronic dietary acidosis. Bone acts as a buffer to some degree, offering up alkaline Calcium salts to balance the excess acid in the form of hydrogen ions.
As a naturopathic doctor, I approach a patient’s wellbeing from a healthy aging and preventative point of view. I want you to age well and feel well, every day. A plant centered, alkaline rich diet over the long term will help the body retain adequate stores of bone and muscle, and keep the kidneys healthy. While I don’t prescribe the popular alkaline diet per say, I recommend that all my patients eat more vegetables and whole foods, and less processed foods. From a clinical standpoint, a high alkaline diet or alkaline supplementation may be harmful for my patients suffering with heart, lung, or kidney disease.