1. Increasing Blood pH Will Improve Your Health
I’m going to lead with this one because the quack who came up with it was just arrested in California for promising terminally-ill patients he could help them by alkalizing their bodies. Actually, that’s not true. He was technically arrested for practicing medicine without a license. Had he merely stuck with recommending the idea of eating specific foods to alkalize the body, he wouldn’t have been arrested at all. The premise of the Alkaline Diet is that acidity is the root cause of disease, and that through diet manipulation people can improve health and performance by making their bodies more alkaline.
This one is also timely because lots of people try counteracting poor choices with a post-Holiday Season cleanse or detoxification diet. The premise is that fasting or consuming a tightly restricted set of foods/drinks will purge toxins from the body. Again, evolution already gave us a superb way to do that: filtering blood through the liver and kidneys. Metabolic waste and even ingested pollutants that make it into your bloodstream are filtered out and excreted. Are there pollutants that don’t get filtered out? Yes, heavy metals like mercury and lead can collect in body tissues, and a juice cleanse won’t remove them either.
While it may be easier to be an omnivore and train and compete as an elite athlete, I haven’t seen compelling evidence showing plant-based diets prevent athletes from achieving maximum performance. People frequently express concern about vegan endurance athletes and adequate consumption of protein (muscle synthesis and immune function) and iron (key component of hemoglobin, which binds oxygen to red blood cells). First, there are plenty of plant-based sources of whole protein and amino acids, including essential amino acids that can’t be created by the body: beans, nuts, seeds, avocado, and quinoa are just a small sample. Second, the concern about iron is typically about the difference between heme and non-heme iron, found primarily in animal products or plants, respectively. The bioavailability of heme iron is higher than that of non-heme iron, which only means more of the heme iron you consume ends up being used by the body. As long as vegan or vegetarian athletes eat enough plants rich in non-heme iron (like green leafy vegetables), they can maintain normal iron levels in the blood.