Alkali Diet Part IV: Magnesium

June 04, 2008

What are the Benefits? The Minuet of Mighty Minerals Concludes with Magnesium

Competency # 16: Mighty Minerals                 Reference: Web Link for the “Traditional” Poo-Poo to the Alkaline Diet. 

 Here is where we may be getting a little bit ahead of the system.  There are NO good studies that show that eating a specifically alkaline diet will make a difference in cancer or heart disease by traditional medical research.  By studies, I mean a randomized controlled trial.  That’s the gold standard in medicine.  It takes out the placebo effect.  As you can intuitively understand, it’s hard to impossible to get people to eat a specific diet for many years in a randomized fashion. (You get the bread and water, I’ll take the …..)  We are talking about effects that take years, if not lifetimes, to develop.  So, research may not come in the fashion to which we expect it to.  

With that in hand, it’s not hard to argue that the alleged benefits of the alkaline diet are not supported by the facts, especially when “the facts” that you quote require a randomized controlled trial.  Can we ferret out the truth another way? What we do know is theoretical and historical.  We do know that societies that ate “pre-Western” diets had rates of cancer considerably below what we have now.  

David Livingston, the famous African missionary, found virtually no cancer in Africa.  The same was found in many indigenous societies, prior to the introduction of Western foods.  The Inuit were virtually cancer-free.  Native Americans, Zulu, Pacific Islanders, Maori.  The story repeats too often to ignore.  Many of those societies lived outdoors and got abundant Vitamin D.  They also ate tons of fiber (50-100gms/day).  Fruits and vegetables were abundant, in season.  But no sugar, white flour or “refined” foods.  Grains were more on the order of rye and barley if any at all. 

 Intriguing also is that these indigenous societies don’t become hypertensive as they grow older.  We take for granted that we must become so in the west, as though it is a foregone conclusion.  So what is the difference?  It’s going to take a while, with our modern scientific methods and instruments to tease out the real effect and help us to figure out how to care for ourselves. What we can measure, and say for sure, however, is that a diet of abundant fruits and vegetables (base of the alkaline diet) provides us with lots more potassium and magnesium, two electrolytes that we don’t get adequate amounts of in our current western diet of fast food and sweet ice cream.  

Magnesium may be one of the secrete sleepers in the “alkaline” diet.  We do know that our American diet provides us with only 50-60% of the magnesium we need.  Magnesium is a cofactor in an incredible number of enzymes.  It’s also crucial for bone health.  And what you measure in your blood is not an accurate reflection of your body’s total stores.   You can be very deficient and be virtually unable to tell.  And eating lots of acid-producing foods flushes magnesium out of your body in the same way you flush out potassium.  

The burden of acid is accentuated by table salt (sodium), so our high sodium diet in America is part of the cause of our low magnesium diet.  Eating plain Magnesium Sulfate has one immediate effect, not to be discussed in polite company.  You don't absorb much when you eat it that way, that's for sure.  But you do when you eat magnesium bound up in foods within the proteins and enzymes in those foods. 

 WWW: What Will Work for me.  Spinach (all greens), queens of magnesium.  Green leafy vegetables are terrific sources of magnesium.  Cut the salt, it makes you drain magnesium.  Three servings (3.5 oz=a serving) of vegetables and fruits for every meat.   Make it fish, or chicken.  And cut the cheese.  Any grains gotta be WHOLE.  And coffee.   Tons of magnesium in coffee.  Finally, something I like.

The column was written by Dr. John E. Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI. (262-784-5300)