What is Alkalosis?
Can I Get Too Alkaline? It’s a question I’m asked a lot, and I want to put your mind at ease in this guide as to what the real story is here with the alkaline diet, the effects of acidity, whether eating alkaline helps and whether it can go too far!
I’ve been teaching people how to have huge success with the alkaline diet since 2004, or as I prefer to call it – the Alkaline Life (it’s not a ‘diet’) and this idea of getting too alkaline is one of the most common concerns that comes up. And it’s a legitimate worry for so many people because intuitively, it kind of makes sense.
When you think about it in a kind of ‘common sense’ way – it’s easy to understand how: if the logic runs that eating too many acidic foods will make us ‘too acid’, then eating too many alkaline foods could make us ‘too alkaline’.
Makes sense right?
Erm, wrong. 🙂
Thankfully, it doesn’t work like that.
Why Getting ‘Too Alkaline’ Is Practically Impossible
The biggest myth / argument agains the alkaline diet is that ‘you can’t change your pH’, and in my guide here that completely rips that notion to shreds (yep, completely) I show how this is a completely ridiculous claim because the goal of the alkaline diet is NOT to change your pH! The goal is to support your body to MAINTAIN your pH at the alkaline 7.365.
The damage of an acidic diet is done when we constantly eat foods and drink drinks that push our blood pH below 7, into what the scientific community called ‘diet-induced acidosis’.
When we do this the body goes into red-alert mode to do everything it takes to buffer the acidity and push the blood pH back to alkaline.
This causes a lot of damage – the effects of which are incredibly far reaching, unbalancing every one of what I call our ‘Five Master Systems’ of the endocrine (hormone) system, digestive, immune, detoxification and of course acid-buffering systems.
This acidic environment (and the damage caused by the body’s immediate necessity to bring the pH back to alkaline) is what sets the stage for sickness and disease – the constant diet-induced acidosis caused by our modern diet. (I discuss this in more depth here if you want to go a little deeper on this).
When there is too much acidity for the body to deal with, as just a few quick examples of THOUSANDS of knock on effects this can have:
- As noted in the research paper ‘Examining the Relationship Between Diet-Induced Acidosis and Cancer‘ ‘net acid load’ in the body causes the adrenals to release excess cortisol, not only stressing the adrenals and leading to adrenal fatigue (which then leads to weight gain, fatigue, low mood and so on) but chronically elevated cortisol is one of the most common pre-cursors to dozens of different cancers
- And in the paper ‘Diet-Induced Low-Grade Metabolic Acidosis and Clinical Outcomes‘ the researchers show how the dumping of acidity into the bloodstream causes an excessive release of insulin – not only leading, of course, to insulin resistance, more stress to the adrenals and the pancreas (and when the pancreas is stressed it loses the ability to burn fat for fuel) but also insulin release causes inflammation in the body – which is the precursor to practically every sickness and disease we know of!
- PLUS (and I’ll make this the last one – I think you’re probably getting the picture), in the paper ‘Reducing the Dietary Acid Load: How a More Alkaline Diet Benefits Patients With Chronic Kidney Disease‘ the author shows how when there is more acidity than the body can immediately deal with, “the remaining acid is neutralized or stored within the body. Bone and muscle are lost in order to neutralize the acid.” Thousands of studies such as this and this have gone on to show how an acidic diet is directly linked to muscle loss and osteoporosis.
Therefore, we are not eating alkaline foods to make our pH MORE alkaline, we’re eating these foods to give our body the tools it needs to effortlessly MAINTAIN this pH, repair, heal, nourish, restore and thrive.
These alkaline foods are those that are packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories – an abundance of goodness and nourishment.
When we give our body everything it needs to do it’s job properly, it doesn’t just needlessly become too alkaline. It just doesn’t happen.
The foods we are consuming that are acid-forming, things like sugar, gluten, soda, chips, chocolate, pizza, alcohol etc. have a pH that goes as low as pH 3-4.
Even the most alkaline-forming foods are around pH 7.5-8.2.
Can you see the difference here?
Remembering also that the pH scale is logarithmic, meaning pH 6 is 10x more acidic than pH 7, pH 5 is 100x, pH 4 is 1000x…
You can see how easy it is to get into a state of acidosis, but then on the flip side, how you are simply not ever overly overloading your body with ‘too much’ alkalinity.
Even in the theoretical situation that you somehow consumed an insane (frankly impossible) level of alkaline foods that caused your pH get too alkaline, your body would buffer it back down like it does day-in, day-out, with each coffee, or processed food, packaged food, sugar.
And again, think of how mildly alkaline these most alkaline foods are, compared to how shockingly acidic these most acidic foods are…well, it would just take a huge, huge amount of effort to be even slightly over alkaline, compared to the one soda to get crazy over-acid.
What is Alkalosis Then?
So if I’m saying you want to stay well out of ‘diet induced acidosis’, what about alkalosis?
Alkalosis is possible – it’s the name given to when the pH of the blood is consistently too alkaline – and this is what some critics (usually those in the medical/pharmaceutical industry) cite when they criticise the alkaline way.
However, diet-induced alkalosis is not possible. Well, if you REALLY REALLY wanted to try to get too alkaline, you possibly could, if you wanted to eat frankly crazy volumes of specific foods, but it’s not possible in normal reality. Sure it’s theoretically possible, but you’d have to consume such a CRAZY ridiculous amount alkaline foods that the alkalosis, at that stage would probably be the least of your worries!
Alkalosis is a medical term that is given to when the blood pH is too high, but it occurs only when there is a serious condition in the body. It comes in four forms, the most common two being the first two here:
- Metabolic Alkalosis: Metabolic alkalosis develops when the body loses too much acid or gains too much alkalinity – at a rate caused by an underlying medical condition such as chronic kidney disease, prolonged vomiting, adrenal conditions caused by Cushing’s disease or adrenal tumours or the abuse of diuretics.
- Respiratory Alkalosis: Respiratory alkalosis when the lungs can’t remove enough of the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by the body – and the most common cause is hyperventilation (caused by an underlying medical condition). Asthma, COPD, pneumonia and sleep apnea are the most common causes of the hyperventilation and liver disease and lung disease can also play a role.
- Hypochloremic Alkalosis: occurs when there’s a significant decline of chloride in your body. This can be due to prolonged severe vomiting or sweating induced by a medical condition.
- Hypokalemic Alkalosis: occurs in a condition of severe deficiency of the alkaline mineral potassium. Kidney disease, excessive sweating, and diarrhea are the most common causes of this.
Summary: Should I Worry About Getting TOO Alkaline?
In short – alkalosis can only be caused by a medical condition, not by eating too many alkaline foods. If you’ve had this concern in the past, I hope this puts your mind at ease.
And if anyone has ever tried to tell you that you shouldn’t ‘go alkaline’ because of this – you now have the answer to put them in their place 🙂
I hope this helps,
PS. a related question to this is ‘why eat alkaline, or drink alkaline because the stomach is acid anyway’ – and I’ve answered that one in-depth here.
Scientific References & Links
Carnauba RA, Baptistella AB, Paschoal V, Hübscher GH; Diet-Induced Low-Grade Metabolic Acidosis and Clinical Outcomes: A Review; Nutrients 2017, 9(6), 538; (link)
Dawson-Hughes B, Harris SS, Ceglia L. Alkaline diets favor lean tissue mass in older adults; The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 87, Issue 3, 1 March 2008, Pages 662–665 (link)
Gaw A, Murphy MJ, Srivastava R, Cowan RA, O’Reilly DS. Acid-base disorders. In: Gaw A, Murphy MJ, Srivastava R, Cowan RA, O’Reilly DS, eds. Clinical Biochemistry: An Illustrated Colour Text. 5th ed. Philadelphia: PA: Elsevier; 2013:chap 24.
Lambert H, Frassetto L, Moore JB, Torgerson D, Gannon R, Burckhardt P, Lanham-New S. The effect of supplementation with alkaline potassium salts on bone metabolism: a meta-analysis. Osteoporos Int. 2015 Apr;26(4):1311-8. (link)
Passey C. Reducing the Dietary Acid Load: How a More Alkaline Diet Benefits Patients With Chronic Kidney Disease; Journal of Renal Nutrition; May 2017Volume 27, Issue 3, Pages 151–160 (link)
Robey IF, Examining the relationship between diet-induced acidosis and cancer; Nutritional Metabolism; 2012; 9: 72 (link)