What Is the Alkaline Diet?
The alkaline diet is also known as the alkaline acid diet or alkaline ash diet. Its premise is that your diet can alter the pH value or the measure of acidity or alkalinity of your body.
Your metabolism is the conversion of food into energy sometimes compared to fire. Each one involves a chemical reaction that breaks down a solid mass.
However, chemical reactions in your body occur slowly and in a controlled manner.
When things burn, there remains a residue of ash. Similarly, the food you eat also leaves a residue of “ash” known as metabolic waste.
As a result, this metabolic waste can be alkaline also called neutral or acidic. Proponents of this diet claim that metabolic waste can directly affect the acidity of your body.
In other words, if you eat foods that leave acidic ashes, it makes your blood more acidic. If you eat foods that leave alkaline ash, it makes your blood more alkaline.
According to the acid-ash hypothesis, it is believed that acid ash makes it vulnerable to diseases, while alkaline ash is considered protective.
By choosing more alkaline foods, you should be able to “alkalize” your body and improve your health.
The components of the foods that leave an acid ash include protein, phosphate, and sulfur, while the alkaline components include calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Certain food groups are considered acidic, alkaline or neutral:
- Acid: meat, chicken, fish, dairy, eggs, grains and alcohol.
- Neutral: natural fats, starches, and sugars.
- Alkaline: Fruits, nuts, legumes and vegetables.
What Does Acid/Alkaline Mean?
Our bodies have what is called a pH balance, which measures the acidity in our blood. That level can determine our general state of health, and whether or not we are at risk of a serious illness.
Our blood is calculated based on a pH scale that ranges from 0 to 14. Zero is considered the most acidic, while fourteen is highly alkaline.
The ideal pH of our blood for optimal health is around 7.35, which is neither too acidic nor too alkaline, but neutral.
The reason why the acid-alkaline balance is important for you is because it directly affects your state of health.
An acidic environment is considered the perfect setting for the disease to thrive.
Previously, it was thought that the acid-alkaline diet was a crazy hippie vegan myth. But even Dr. Otto Warburg, who dedicated his life to cancer cell research, won a Nobel Prize for demonstrating that cancer cells can not survive in an alkaline environment.
As mentioned above, one of the main factors that influence the pH of our blood are the types of food we eat.
All foods can be classified as acidic, alkaline or neutral. The pH of a food is not measured by its physical properties, but by the residue that remains in the body once the food has been metabolized.
For example, we would consider a lemon acid intuitively because it has a sour taste and the ability to erode tooth enamel.
But once it has been metabolized by the body, the lemon leaves the blood alkaline. This explains why an apparently acidic food can “become” alkaline in the body.
To determine if a food is alkalizing or acid for the body, each food is measured on a PRAL scale.
Why Do People Follow an Alkaline Diet?
Not only is it thought to improve health, but it is also said that the alkaline diet preserves muscle mass, delays the aging process and protects against a variety of health problems, ranging from headaches and colds to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, stones kidney, and osteoporosis.
Advocates also claim that the alkaline diet can increase energy levels and help you lose weight.
The Problem with Being Too Acidic
We have briefly touched on one of the most damaging effects of an acidic internal environment, which is the promotion of the disease, specifically cancer.
But being too acidic can accompany other symptoms that occur long before a serious illness occurs. In fact, being too acidic can result in muscle wasting and reduce bone density.
This is partly due to the fact that many acidic foods are low in nutrients that promote musculoskeletal health, such as potassium and calcium.
To be a bit more scientific in terms of bone health, it has been shown that an acidic environment stimulates the activity of osteoclast cells. Osteoclasts are cells that break down bones.
In contrast, it has been shown that an alkaline environment stimulates the activity of osteoblasts, which are the cells that help to form bones.
In addition to the long-term conditions that can result from being too acidic, there are short-term symptoms that may also suggest that your body is more on the acid end of the pH scale. These symptoms include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Low energy
- Muscular weakness
- Brain fog or confusion
- Digestive problems such as swelling
- Frequent cold
- Joint pain
- Frequent headaches
Now, the body contains natural compounds such as bicarbonate, which act as buffers to neutralize the acidity of the blood. These buffers help prevent extreme drops in the pH of the blood.
This is a vital defense not only against acidifying foods, but also against other factors that promote acidity in the body, such as chronic stress.
Intense exercise can also promote blood acidity because it stimulates the release of lactic acid from muscle tissue.
While your body has a natural defense system against having an acid pH in your blood, it is possible that these buffers wear out over time, especially if there are several factors that negatively affect your pH, such as stress and a highly acid diet.
For this reason, it is important to support your body by including alkaline foods in your diet whenever possible.
This does not mean that you should become a raw vegan and eat only alkalizing fruits and vegetables for the rest of your life.
While it is rare, it is still possible for the blood to become too alkaline. But since the modern diet is generally higher in acidifying foods, including alkalizing foods in your diet every day will help neutralize your blood pH and improve your health in many ways.
Now, let’s go into more detail with this list of highly alkaline foods.
Highly Alkaline Foods That Will Benefit Your Body
1. Beet Greens – PRAL score: -16.7
Let’s give a round of applause to the most alkaline food in the world: beet greens.
Although beet greens are not the most popular green in our diets, their high alkalinity score makes them one of the best additions for smoothies or stir-fry.
In addition to being highly alkaline, beet greens also have a bitter quality that can help stimulate the production of bile to help digest fats better.
If that is not a sufficient reason to cling to your beet beets, I do not know what it is.
Beet greens can replace any green in salads, soups or smoothies.
Kale – PRAL Score: -8.3
There is a reason why kale has been labeled as the new meat.
It has a high content of iron, calcium and vitamin K, which is said to help protect against many types of cancer. In addition to these health benefits, kale is another of the most alkaline foods in the world.
Kale has a mild flavor that can brighten any recipe. You can easily add kale to any smoothie recipe that requires vegetables, stir-fries, salads, and soups to get a (delicious) alkaline boost.
Bananas – PRAL Score: -6.9
Bananas, also known as “potitos de potasio”, are another highly alkaline food that you will not want to leave out of your diet. Bananas are also a great source of fiber, which helps promote digestive regularity and sweep toxins from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
While most people tend to avoid bananas to avoid weight gain due to their high sugar content, eating a banana is much better for you than eating a granola bar or some other processed food that is full of sugar and acidifying ingredients.
One of the most delicious ways to include bananas in your diet is to make a “nice cream”, which is simply frozen bananas mixed in a creamy consistency. The best part of the nice banana cream is that you can decorate it with other alkaline ingredients, such as fresh mint leaves and berries.
Sweet Potato – PRAL Score: -5.6
Now you can feel better when eating sweet potato fries (in moderation).
Although they are richer in starch, sweet potatoes are alkalizing food that provides your body with lots of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Because sweet potatoes are so high in fiber, they have a lesser negative impact on blood sugar levels, since fiber helps slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream.
Therefore, sweet potatoes are an excellent food when it comes to eating for energy and providing your body with an increase in alkaline nutrients.
Celery – PRAL Score: -5.2
Apart from being alkalizing, celery has additional cleaning properties. Since it is mainly water, celery can help the body eliminate toxins.
Celery is also a “negative calorie” food, which means that more calories are needed to chew and digest than the total amount of calories it contains.
Kiwi – PRAL Score: -4.1
The kiwi is a highly alkaline food that your cells will not want to miss, because it also contains a large amount of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
And although oranges are famous for their vitamin C content, kiwi contains almost five times the amount of vitamin C than an orange. Kiwi is also a great source of fiber to improve digestion, as well as potassium for muscle function.
THE 80 BEST FOODS FOR BALANCING YOUR PH
THE MOST ALKALINE
Raw almonds, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, broccoli, unrefined sea salt, pink sea salt ( himalaya ), chard, cucumber, endive, fennel, wheatgrass, kale, parslev, alkaline water, kelp, nori, wakame, spinach, sprouts, sprouted beans
Arugula, avocado, basil, bee pollen, beets, cabbage, celery, chia, Chinese cabbage, chives, cilantro, eggplant, escarole, figs, garlic, ginger, green beans, lemon, lettuce, lima beans, lime, mustard greens, navy beans, okra, onion, peppers, quinoa, radish, red onion, scallion, spring greens, tomato
Almond milk, artichoke, asparagus, avocado oil, Brussels sprouts, buckwheat, carrot, cashew nuts, cauliflower, chestnuts, coconut (flesh, milk, water, oil), fava beans, flax oil, grapefruit, herbs, spices, leeks, lentils, new potatoes, olive oil, peas, pomegranate, pumpkin, rhubarb, summer squash, winter squash, sweet potato, watercress
If you have a health problem (such as kidney disease or cancer), be sure to consult your health care provider before making changes in your diet.
In addition, people who take medications that affect the levels of calcium, potassium or other minerals in the body should consult their doctor before trying the alkaline diet.
Following the lists of alkaline foods too strictly without taking into account other factors (such as caloric or protein intake) can lead to health problems such as protein or nutrient deficiency or excessive weight loss.
There are some products marketed as “alkaline water” or alkaline forming products. The safety of such products is not known.
Should You Try the Alkaline Diet?
Although you should not use an alkaline diet instead of the standard treatment for any health condition, adopting a diet based on plants rich in fruits and vegetables can help you achieve general well-being and protect against certain diseases.
There are many foods on the acid formation list (such as grains, beans, nuts) that have positive attributes and there are foods on the basic training list (such as coffee and wine) that should only be consumed in moderation.
Instead of looking at lists of foods as lists of “food to eat” and “foods to avoid,” think of foods that form acids and bases in a continuous process and provide a balanced diet.
1/2 Bunch (7 leaves) Kale
1 Large handful Basil
2 Stalks (bulb part leaves included) Fennel
4 Large Carrots
1 Knuckle Ginger
If you want something more precise.
(2 and 1/2 cups chopped) Kale= 2 ounces juice
(1 cup chopped) Basil= 1 and 1/2 ounces juice
(2 cups chopped) Cucumber= 6 ounces juice
(1 cup chopped) Fennel= 3 ounces juice
(3 cups chopped) Carrots= 7 ounces juice
(1 and 1/2 inch square) Ginger= under an ounce of juice
- 2 carrots.
- 1 cucumber.
- ¼ head cabbage.
- 1 cup kale or spinach.
- ½ lime.
- 1 knob gingerRecipe 3
a piece of fennel
1 lemon peeled
1 stalk celery
few stems of bok choy.
Place in juicer and drink immediately. Yields approx 8 ozRecipe 4Green Ginger Ale
few stems each of mint & parsley
2 leaves of kale, 1/2 in piece of ginger
1 lemon peeled
Place in juicer and drink immediately. Yields approx 8 ozRecipe 5
a few broccoli stems
1 stalk celery
few stems of bok choy
a 3-4 inch piece of parsnip
a small wedge of cabbage
few stems parsley & basil too if you have
Place in juicer then pour this green juice into the blender and add 1 avocado, 1 small clove garlic, pinch of sea salt and 1-2 teaspoons of Braggs soy sauce. This is my favourite and I save it for lunch or for dinner during this cleanse. I sometimes even pour it into a bowl as a soup- delicious!
Beet, Lemon & Ginger Juice
4 medium beets peeled (I recommend peeling or you may have a dirt taste from the strong tasting minerals in the skin)
1 lemon peeled
1 1/2 inch piece of ginger
Place all in juicer and drink immediately.
The Bottom Line
The alkaline diet is quite healthy, encouraging high consumption of fruits, vegetables and healthy plant foods, while restricting processed junk food.
However, the notion that diet improves health due to its alkalizing effects is suspect. These claims have not been proven by any reliable human study.
Some studies suggest positive effects in a very small subset of the population; An alkalizing diet, low in protein, can benefit people with chronic kidney disease.
In general, the alkaline diet is healthy because it is based on whole and unprocessed foods. Its benefits have nothing to do with pH levels.