The pH Diet: Facts and Fiction


By Sabrina Oliver, RD, CSO, CDN

As a digestive disease dietitian, I have been getting a lot of questions surrounding the alkaline diet. Google alone provides over three million results on this topic! The problem is, almost everything you read and hear has zero scientific evidence. People think that an array of digestive diseases, including cancer and reflux, can be prevented or cured if the body is made more alkaline. So, it is time to set the record straight and separate fact from fiction.

The process of eating

When we eat, food goes through our gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which is actually considered to be outside the body. Our gut breaks down the food with the help of other organs that secrete digestive enzymes. By the time the digested food enters the blood through the walls of the GI tract, the acid or alkaline content of the original food does not matter. The pH of our blood is tightly regulated (by our own body) and maintained at 7.35 – 7.45, a slightly alkaline environment. Excess acid or base is released in the urine to help the body maintain a proper pH balance. Changes in the urine pH are therefore completely normal and have no connection with the pH of the blood.

Bottom Line

Focus on the quality of your diet. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends consuming a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. They also recommend limiting consumption of red meat, and avoiding processed meat. Make sure you are getting an adequate amount of protein in your diet from healthy sources including lean poultry, fish, and legumes.  As always, dietary recommendations can vary, so make sure you talk to a registered dietitian for individualized questions or concerns.

Here is a delicious vegetarian recipe that I love and a great treat for the New Year!

Brussels Sprout Slaw with Cranberries and Walnuts

*Recipe adapted from American Institute for Cancer Research


  • ¾ lb Brussels sprouts
  • 1 apple (choose your favorite!) peeled, cored, and chopped
  • ⅔ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil


  • Wash and trim the bottom of the sprouts. Shred the Brussels sprouts in food processor. Transfer shredded sprouts to mixing bowl.
  • Add apple, cranberries, walnuts, salt, pepper and lemon juice to the bowl. Stir for 1 minute. Add oil and continue to stir well. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours to overnight.

Best if served within 24 hours. Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition information per ½ cup: 120 calories, 7 grams fat, 16 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 3 grams fiber, and 130 milligrams sodium
*To add extra calories, add ½ cup chopped almonds, 1 avocado (chopped), and/or another tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil