|What you choose to put in your body can have profound effects on your long-term health. This is not groundbreaking news. But exactly how our food choices affect our health is a constant area of research, debate and new findings. Countless diet plans and lifestyle-management philosophies are launched off of scientific studies, folk medicine and tradition. We get our diet ideas from all over. But, for those who advocate an “Alkaline Diet”, the science is simple.|
We measure the acid-alkaline balance of the body using pH. On a scale, seven is neutral while zero is completely acidic and 14 is completely alkaline. While pH levels throughout the body vary, the blood maintains a slightly alkaline pH measurement of 7.35 to 7.45. Proponents of the alkaline diet say our foods must also reflect this alkaline nature in order to fight disease and keep the body healthy overall, including at a beneficial weight.
The diet has many followers, including celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham and Gywneth Paltrow.
The basics of the Alkaline Diet
Some foods are acid producing and others are alkaline producing.
The alkaline diet says avoiding acidic foods can help prevent disease. These are foods that have become popular with the advent of industrialization and modern man. Things like meat, caffeine, sugar, processed foods, poultry, fish, dairy products and flour should all be avoided.
These foods, according to the concept behind this diet, can cause mineral deficiencies and disease as the body tries to handle their high acid levels in an alkaline environment.
Alkaline foods, on the other hand, are said to be easy for your body to process and conducive to absorbing and making use of all the crucial nutrients within.
The go-to food list in an alkaline diet is vegetarian and includes things like:
- Vegetables (dark green leafy greens especially)
- Avoid eating fruits and veggies on the same serving (if you eat a salad, skip the fruit juice for example).
- Walnuts and almonds (avoid other nuts)
- Plenty of water
- Avoid red meats, alcohol, caffeine, sugars, cheese and processed foods.
Some alkaline diet food lists online offer conflicting information on those foods that are off-limits and those that are good for you. Generally, however, the diet is a plant-based one.
The criticism and praise
Anytime you forgo processed foods, animal products and white stuff (flour and sugar), you are bound to lose weight and improve your health.This means a decreased risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and numerous other lifestyle-related diseases.
Even critics of the alkaline diet can’t deny that the recommended focus on plant-foods is a good one. But, they say, the diet may be based on flawed science.
Critics of the alkaline diet say that the body can take a slightly acidic food and process it just fine—that eating acidic foods doesn’t affect the blood pH level. They also say that research backing the tenets of the alkaline diet is lacking.
According to a report published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, however, there are some undeniable benefits to eating more alkaline foods.
Researchers point out that a low-acid diet was historically used to facilitate kidney and bladder health, and that it may be effective to this end by reducing the amount of calcium in the urine. Also, increased fruits and vegetables may benefit bone health, muscle wasting, hypertension, strokes and other chronic conditions.
The diet, they say, results in increased growth hormone production, which could potentially improve cardiac health and even memory and brain health.
Of the findings, University of Alberta’s Gerry K. Schwalfenberg remarks, “it would be prudent to consider an alkaline diet to reduce morbidity and mortality of chronic disease that are plaguing our aging population.”
While the how’s of this diet are still up for debate, there is little doubt that an alkaline diet—filled with plants—can have beneficial effects on your health, particularly when you eliminate processed and unhealthy foods.
The best way to know if this is the diet for you is to try it for at least 2 months. You should see results by then.