An alkaline approach to good health

Here is an interesting contradiction for you to consider.

The understanding that consuming alkaline water and adhering to an alkaline diet can have a major impact on improving your health is gaining strong recognition by many people in the medical and allied health community. Regular users of alkaline water and alkaline foods have reported many improvements in their health, particularly in areas such as joint pain, eczema, allergies, irritable bowel conditions, acid reflux, insomnia and even weight loss. However, diets which are dominated by acidic forming food and drinks (as described below) have been associated with many serious chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even premature aging.

So here is the contradiction. How can an alkaline diet be so beneficial when the first stage of digestion takes place in the stomach and involves very strong acids? It just doesn`t seem to make sense! Doesn`t all alkaline water and food become very acidic just by the digestion process?

The initial answer is yes!! As we eat and drink the digestive process is triggered and specialised cells in the stomach produce strong hydrochloric acid at a pH of around 1.5 to 2 which starts to break down the food. The stomach contents mix and a thick liquid mass called chyme is produced. The chyme is then passed into the small intestine where absorption of the food nutrients and water begins. However, this absorption process take only take place in an alkaline environment, so the body must rapidly increase the pH of the chyme. It does this by releasing bicarbonate from the pancreas which then also supports the digestive actions of enzymes secreted by the pancreas, the gall bladder and the intestine. Once your food has been converted to an alkaline liquid it can then be absorbed efficiently as it moves through the intestine.

So then, why are alkaline water and food so beneficial to our health and acidic foods and waters so detrimental? One view is that it is not the pH value of the food and water that is important, but the mineral content. That is, foods such as oranges and other fruit which may have an acidic pH value are highly valuable nutritionally because they contain high quantities of alkaline forming minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium. Most fruit and vegetables are highly alkaline forming within the digestion process. Minerals such as sulphur, phosphorus and iron are very acid forming during digestion, and coincidently are found in high concentrations in foods such as red meat, poultry, eggs, sugar, rice, grains and nuts. Most soft drinks, the bane of all health conscious people, are high in phosphorus and are very acid forming during digestion.

Thus, at a very simple level, foods that are alkaline forming during digestion such as fruits and vegetables generate abundant nutrients and minerals that are readily absorbed by the body. Acid forming diets rich in protein, highly processed carbohydrates and sugars, and soft drinks contribute to metabolic acidosis of the body, a condition that is considered to be fundamental to the generation and maintenance of chronic disease.

And what about alkaline water? Why is it so beneficial to your diet? Commercial alkaline water is typically generated by processes that purify the water then alkalate it to a pH of around 8 to 9. Importantly, this process usually adds beneficial mineral salts such as calcium, magnesium and potassium and other trace elements that are all highly alkaline forming during digestion.

Thus, the combination of alkaline foods and alkaline water in your diet is the ultimate recipe for good health and endless vitality. Make 2011 your year of perfect health – become alkaline conscious now!

For further information, contact Dr Roger Drinkwater by email:

By Roger Drinkwater

Dr Roger Drinkwater, B.Sc.(Hons), PhD is a semi-retired professional scientist in the fields of physiology, biochemistry, toxicology and molecular genetics. In business he has been a founder and CEO of international biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. He currently consults within the Pharmaceutical and Health and Wellness sectors, and is passionate about health and fitness.