Pasteur, Bechamp and the Alkaline Diet


BechampThe acid/alkaline approach to health and wellbeing is fairly simple on the surface.

Everyone knows that there is, of course, science behind this approach – but as the lists of acid and alkaline foods break down neatly into what we already know (eat lots of veggies & cut out the crap) – we (well, certainly I) tend to gloss over the real nitty gritty of the science of it all.

So here I am going to give you a bit of an introduction/overview and a discussion of the controversies behind it. And all whilst not indulging myself one bit 😉

The Very Beginnings – Antoine Bechamp & Louis Pasteur

The theory upon which the alkaline diet was build came along well before Dr Young, Tony Robbins or Christopher Vasey came onto the scene. In fact, the foundations of this approach can be traced back to the 1840s when Bechamp and Pasteur were busily occupying their position as the biggest rivals in science. Through their groundbreaking and prolific research they were recognised as being at the forefront of their scientific fields, with the outcome of their early work effectively going on to define our understanding of mainstream health and medicine today.

After years and years of research it was ultimately, Pasteur’s theory that went on to become widely accepted (and Bechamp’s to be largely forgotten) and is what we now know as ‘germ theory’.

Alkaline Diet Recipe Book BannerGerm Theory

According to germ theory, all living beings exist in a hostile environment where disease is always apparent and consistently attempting to invade our bodies (in the form of harmful bacteria).

To protect ourselves from these aggressive bacteria we wait until symptoms appear and then treat them. To put simply, if we experience a temperature and excess mucus we will seek out a remedy to nullify these symptoms.

As you are probably aware, this approach has shaped modern medicine and pharmacology.

Bechamp’s Theory

Bechamp, on the other hand held the opposite view. He believed that a completely healthy body would be immune to harmful bacteria and that only when the body became a welcome host for this bacteria (i.e. when our cells become weak and our immune system becomes compromised) would the bacteria have a destructive effect on the body.

In essence, Pasteur taught that disease came from outside the body in the form of bacteria – whereas – Bechamp taught that disease came from inside the body.

Pasteur = to fight illness you have to treat the symptoms
Bechamps = to fight illness you have to create a healthy body in which disease cannot develop

Both theories are important, and both appear valid. Of course we are constantly exposed to harmful bacteria and germs that invade our bodies and are capable of making us sick – but equally – of course, the healthier we are and the stronger our immune system, lymph and cells the more likely it is that our bodies will be able to fight the harmful bacteria.

Unfortunately, medicine became big business and Bechamp’s theory was conveniently forgotten. In fact, pharmaceutical companies all over the world give thanks to Pasteur every single day.

Why Does This Matter?

This matters a great deal. It matters to the point of how we consider, treat, prevent and cure illness and disease today in every essence.

For over a century now the focus in health and medicine has been almost 100% focused upon treating symptoms rather than prevention. With this mindset, millions of people will happily smoke, overeat, do no exercise and lead an utterly destructive lifestyle in the knowledge that there is probably a drug out there if anything goes wrong.

Those people who consciously live healthy lifestyles are still very much part of a minority group and it is only recently that it is entering our collective consciousness that we are responsible for our health through the way we live (for instance, the publicity surrounding obesity, Prince Charles backing alternative medicines & Government initiatives to encourage healthy eating).

And now, after years of neglect, the approach of prevention rather than the treatment of symptoms is making a lot more sense to a lot more people.

What is the point of treating the symptoms of an illness only to let the cause of the illness carry on doing its thing?

Unfortunately, the two main authorities that people look to for opinions do not think so – pharmaceutical companies (who make money by selling cures rather than treating the cause) and Doctors (who make money by prescribing the cures). So I guess we have got a little way to go yet.

The fit with alkalising

I’m sure by now you can see where I am coming from and how this fits in with the alkaline approach to health. Alkalising is built upon Bechamps’ principle that by eating, drinking and exercising well we give ourselves much more control over whether we become sick or not.

It just makes so much more sense to look after yourself and prevent illness rather than sit back, let it happen and then try and treat the symptoms.

By following an alkalising diet & keeping fit you are doing more for your immune system than any drug known to man.

The alkaline diet is an approach to health which emphasises eating nutrient-rich, (usually) raw, high water content, green, life giving foods and drinks and eliminating the known, obvious unhealthy choices (the usual suspects, ciggies, beer, trans-fats, saturated fats, sugars, yeasts, chemicals, processed foods, dairy, fatty meats etc.).

Yet, similarly to Bechamp, this approach to health is given a thoroughly bad press in
some quarters despite the fact that everyone who gives it a go feels great, looks great and becomes fit, healthy and full of energy.

However, as a collective, we are becoming more conscious of our health, responsible for our health and less trusting of companies who are trying to push their own agenda (particularly food manufacturers, meat and dairy groups, Government and pharmaceutical companies)…and this is a big step in the right direction.

So while the alkaline approach to health still stays largely unknown within the masses, we are now starting to accept that maybe Bechamp was right all along…

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  1. Lidija Fey Reply

    My latest discovery of toxicity is “damp home illness” and no amount of dietary jigging can cure this other than fixing the problem or moving to a home (or work place) without the issue. The mold created from untended leaking water into homes is invisible sometimes and very detrimental to health. Another example where prevention is way better than cure. If eating healthy doesn’t work for you then there is something else going on and it might just be behind your walls or in your basement. Don’t underestimate the effects of toxic molds. Good food just tastes bad when you are mold effected. We need healthy homes, workplaces and schools if we are going to be healthy. I love my vegies and fruit and even in a toxic home environment I have faired better than those who indulged in junky foods but still have not operated optimally and now I know why.

  2. Kevin Reply

    Hi Ross
    It’s good to see the envelope being opened more and more.
    A suggestion (with tongue in cheek) – Try the ‘human’ diet – if eaten in quantity and quality – approx: 50% fruit, 35% veg, 10-15% starches and no more than 5-10% veg proteins – a blood factor of 7.4 (slightly alkaline) will be the result.
    Healthy blood will produce healthy cells, tissues, organs, systems.
    All the best for health and happiness

  3. Ross Reply

    Hi Eran

    Thanks for your contribution, it is much appreciated.

    I understand you concern with not being able to get access to straightforward, non-conflicting information online. It is the number one reason why I started this website!

    Which I why I am a little taken aback with your statement about not being able to get free advice online – as I have dedicated thousands of hours to writing hundreds and hundreds of articles on this blog (and in the resources section of this site) to give people free, accurate information about health and wellness.

    And in defence of Dr Young, he publishes thousands of articles, all really thoroughly researched and each would take hours to write, on his blog – he publishes these articles probably 4-5 times per week – for free.

    Everyone has to earn a living and it would be impossible for Dr Young to continue to spread this message (of nutrition, natural health and prevention) without earning money from it too. He simply cannot do it 100% for free!

    It is also a poor comparison because what he and other natural health practitioners are offering is a paid service which actually makes people healthy and not only cures, but prevents illness whereas the pharmas are only interested in profit. They really don’t give a s**t if the drug that masks the symptoms of one illness leads to another.

    I know first hand that Dr Young really does reply to many of the emails he gets. I do too. It really does get overwhelming and can take several hours per day, every day, for me and I have nowhere near the profile of Dr Young!

    So while I understand your concern I cannot agree that there is any comparison between Dr Young and the pharmaceutical industry! None whatsoever!

    I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on this though as it is a really interesting debate!

    Have a great day

  4. Eran Reply

    Everyone is blaming “particularly food manufacturers, meat and dairy groups, Government and pharmaceutical companies” for caring more about income than what will make the public healthier and happier for the long run. While not disagreeing, I have to say this: What happens when you google alkaline diet? 70% of the time you’ll get to Dr. Young’s “pH Miracle Living” website, 20% other sites with the same tone (on which I’ll elaborate), 9% debates about it, 1% proper information…

    These alkaline “pioneers” (Young and friends..) who are here to redeem the world from its sufferings, will not release a shred of information without charging (big time) for it.. It starts with the fact that you can’t get proper information for free online.. But that’s not really the problem. After you read the books, which explain the how more than the why, you start getting up to date with newsletters. Very fast you will learn that the water you are drinking is bad for you (no arguments here). Although you can “get by” with a water filter system, if you really want to be PH BALANCED you have to have ionized water (which is the exact thing our ancestors used to have, right?) which you can comfortably order in the site, for just a bit more than a 1000$. You owe it to yourself though.. you have to be HEALTHY! And ionized water is health, apparently. And that keeps going.

    There is so much contradicting information about what is alkalizing.. what’s acidifying. How can one know? Maybe send an email with questions to the author of the book you just purchased and read? Why not really? They even send you a “personalized” (from Dr. Patrick, in Dr. Young’s office) email when you sign up to the newsletter, saying that you should email them with any question. So you do.. After the third one gets no answer.. You stop trying. Looking at the site, there’s a much easier way! You can actually talk to Dr. Young himself!! Brilliant! For the symbolic price of 15$ a minute 15 minutes minimum… Now you can even DONATE money to “Help Dr. Young defend alternative medicine and the new biology”!

    How is all that better than all the rest?

    I wish I would be able to judge if this diet is worth while or not. Until now, I have yet to find any source to give me proper information on it.

    The article posted here is great.. How can you not agree? You wouldn’t even be in a site like this if you wouldn’t think prevention is the way.. Does it mean that alkaline is the way? I don’t know.. Do you?

  5. Jamey Reply

    Another message for Jim Hoff:

    Read the book, “The Sunfood Diet Success System” by David Wolfe. It will introduce you to the raw foods lifestyle; if followed correctly, it will return one’s body to health and rid it of toxins. Many people have cured themselves of cancers, diabetes and other diseases this way.

  6. Rod Reply

    And it certainly is “Wait for symptoms” vs. “Prevent problems”

  7. Rod Reply

    I think it’s not so much “Treat the symptoms vs. Treat the cause” as it is “The cause is the presence of a germ in the body at the moment vs. The cause is the inability of the body to cope with germs”

  8. Rod Reply

    Jim Hoff – look into Chinese Black Salve (Virxcan) – also look into cesium.

  9. col Reply

    this message is for jim hoff
    research alkalizing diets there is a lot of info which can assist you. also natural unrefined sea or hymalayan salt shirleys wellness cafe can help & respond .results will take time , don’t give up and don’t let so called professionals tell youit doesnt work, but you have to be strict with the correct diet for each individual.

  10. jim hoff Reply

    please help me–my wife has had cancer for 6+years, 7 surgeries, 3 rt lung, 2 breast & 2 tumers in her rectum & vagina- she’s started
    another severe chemo series-her white blood count is extermely low—what may she do???

  11. Cheryline Lawson Reply

    It’s good to see that there are some who take this thing seriously. We feel sick a lot of times because of what we eat. Our body is naturally acidic and adding more acidic food adds to it being retained in our body and making us sick, overweight and have a lack of energy. Let’s educate the public about how to alkalize and energize our body into becoming healthy.

  12. Neelima Reply

    I guess alkaline diets work in India since the diet there is very simple and need-based. But now lifestyles are changing and many people in the urban sector are switching to acidic diets like fast food.

  13. Ross Reply

    Hey Ravi

    Indeed this doesn’t even touch on Indian and Chinese medicine. It would be interesting to get some background going on this too – fancy writing a guest post 😉


  14. Ravi Reply

    Great write-up. Good to see the background upon which the alakaline way of life is based on. I think we can look to many cultures, over many hundred (thousands) of years to see medical teachings that support the need for alkaline foods in our diet. Indian and Chinese Medicine especially are grounded in the same beleif that true health and vitality comes from treating the cause not the symptoms. The basis for the diets of both of these cutlutres are also in primarily alkalizing foods (lots of veggies, mostly vegetarian food).