The Alkaline Mediterranean Diet - A Dietary Magic Wand for Overall Health and Beauty

Cynthia Bailey, MD|January 18, 2010

If there’s one dietary ‘magic wand’ for your overall health, I believe it’s the "Alkaline Mediterranean Diet"! This diet uses food as natural medicine; the ultimate holistic remedy for skin problems and health problems in general. Permanently changing your life style, aiming to eat an alkaline Mediterranean type of diet-

every day-

for the rest of your life-

will all but guarantee your body is its most healthy, AND…

a healthy body means healthy, beautiful skin!

In my 30 years as a scientist and physician, I've observed the impact of lifestyle on health and disease. This, combined with my own health experience and my study of ‘sound’ alternative natural health information all point to the same thing - DIET MATTERS - no creams, potions, vitamin supplements, prescription medicine or surgery can compensate for an unhealthy diet.

The best guidelines I can give my patients for a healthy diet is that they eat a diet consistent with both an alkaline and a Mediterranean diet. The trick is understanding what an alkaline Mediterranean diet really means. The concept of the Mediterranean diet is well established. Just about all health experts agree that the Mediterranean diet promotes health. Scientific studies continue to prove that this type of diet helps prevent many of the big diseases we suffer from today (heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases etc).

I think, however, that our modern interpretation of the Mediterranean diet is flawed. The classic Mediterranean diet alkalinizes the body, and our modern version is acidifying. My research tells me that this makes a huge difference to the health benefits. For example, a diet heavy on refined white flour (modern pizza and pasta) is acidifying and isn't really consistent with the Classic Mediterranean Food Pyramid.

The Classic/Alkaline Mediterranean Food Pyramid

To understand the true Mediterranean diet you have to look to Crete, the rest of Greece, and southern Italy prior to 1960.  These were not highly industrialized areas where processed food was abundant. Their diet was characterized by a food pyramid, the base of which was mostly local and seasonal plant foods (including local wild greens and herbs, nuts, seeds, potatoes, cereals, vegetables and rustic breads), fresh fruit was the typical daily dessert (this means fruit grown in the desert such as figs, grapes, pomegranates).

Olive oil was the principal source of fat.

Dairy products (principally cheese and yogurt) fish and poultry were eaten in low to moderate amounts.

Their diet included zero to four eggs per week, red meat was eaten very infrequently, and wine was consumed in low to moderate amounts, normally with meals. (References 1 and 2)

The ‘pyramid’ is what’s important and what makes this an alkaline diet! The acid/alkaline balance of this diet comes from the relative proportions of the types of foods eaten. The concept of dietary acid/alkaline balance is simple, but the specifics are more complex and will require more detailed explanation. In general:

  • Every food you eat or beverage you drink releases either an acid or alkaline base into your blood stream when you digest and absorb it.
  • Our bodies are naturally alkaline and our bodies are healthiest if we stay alkaline.
  • Consuming some foods and beverages that release acid is ok so long as most of what you consume releases alkaline base into your blood stream.
  • The ‘classic’ Mediterranean diet is composed mostly of foods that are alkaline. These include plant foods and olive oil, which are more alkaline, with proportionally less protein and other acidifying foods. This classic diet is also rich in fresh antioxidants and vitamins, making it a nutritional magic wand for your body’s health.

In my next post I’ll explain in more detail my recommendations for what I'm calling The Alkaline Mediterranean Diet. This is the diet I aim for in my own life. It helps me control my own health issues, it’s delicious, it’s simple and there’s lots of room for gourmet foodie ingredients. This is the diet I always recommend as a natural supporting remedy for my patients with chronic skin diseases. My Alkaline Mediterranean Diet recommendations synthesize information from traditional medicine and western nutrition science, alternative and eastern medicine and my own individual experience as a physician and a patient.


  1. Willett WC et. Al. Mediterranean diet pyramid: a cultural model for healthy eating. Am J. Clin Nutr. 1995 June;61 (6 Suppl):1402S-1406S. (Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.)
  2. Manios Y et. Al. Mediterranean diet as a nutrition education and dietary guide: misconceptions and the neglected role of locally consumed foods and wild green plants. Forum Nutr.2006;59:154-70. Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio University, Athens, Greece.

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