Acid-Alkaline Balance in Metabolic Dieting

In “The Acid-Alkaline Balance Diet,” author Felicia Drury Kliment claims that acidic wastes are responsible for all degenerative diseases. They cause disease by stimulating the body to produce excess stress hormones, triggering a series of biochemical reactions that make the body overly acidic. In such conditions, cells become oxygen-deprived, and adapt by becoming cancerous (cancer cells can survive without oxygen), aggressively taking up the few available nutrients and starving out normal cells. Kliment also claims that people can be divided into three metabolic types: fast, slow and balanced metabolisers, who should eat, respectively, a vegetarian, carnivorous or mixed diet in order to prevent acid waste build-up. She postulates that human cells in a living body will keep on going indefinitely, as long as ridding the body of acid wastes properly detoxifies tissue fluids. A metabolism-tailored diet detoxifies the body by lowering its acid waste levels, and should therefore lower disease susceptibility while increasing longevity, she concludes.

The positive effects of alkalising the body (usually via supplements or diet) have been described by numerous researchers. Such reported effects have included enhancing exercise performance (1), slowing progression of chronic kidney disease (2) and lowering risk of developing gout, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease (3). In contrast with these researchers, however, Kliment maintains that an alkaline diet is not necessary for everyone. Fast metabolisers, for example, should eat plenty of meat, which is an acid-forming food, but limit intake of fruit and vegetables. Slow metabolisers should do the opposite, limiting meat intake and eating plenty of alkali-forming fruit and green leafy vegetables. According to the scheme the author proposes, balanced metabolisers may safely eat most foods. The book contains dedicated chapters detailing causes of a range of diseases, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, mental and neurological disorders, kidney disease, arthritic conditions, diabetes, alcoholism and eye disease. Claiming that almost all of these conditions are curable by taking steps to lower acid levels, the author also provides dietary protocols – including distinct supplement combinations – for the different diseases.

I found it hard to make the connection between alkalisation and metabolic typing as described in this book. While scientific evidence for the benefits of alkali-forming foods continues to accumulate, I could find no peer-reviewed scientific publication on the concept of metabolic typing or for the claimed benefits of eating according to metabolic type, although a lively debate can be followed here: I found a number of questionnaire-based tests on nutritionists’ web-sites, completing two of which gave me different results for my metabolic type. The book also describes two tests (which I gave a miss) for determining metabolic type, based on swallowing niacin (vitamin B-3) or large amounts of vitamin C. The book had few references, making it difficult to check the author’s claims. Finally, it was not the most scintillating of reads. Therefore, while the concept of alkali benefits it presents is interesting and worth following up, the metabolic type aspect is so little-documented that I would be cautious about blindly following all of this book’s dietary recommendations.