Breaking Down the Alkaline Diet Plan, Foods & Potential Benefits

The quality of the foods and liquids we consume plays such an important role in determining how we live our lives. It provides us with energy, helps to maintain the ongoing functions of our organs and internal systems, affects our moods and thought processes – in fact, just about every element of our existence has some relationship with our diets.

 

A great deal of the food and drinks we consume in modern diets, consists of highly acidic contents, largely in fizzy drinks, alcohol, meats, dairy and processed foods. This can lead to a range of negative health effects, such as digestive disorders, gut health issues, food sensitivities and metabolic acidosis. But there is a potential to counteract the effect of excessive amounts of acid in your body by embracing what is known as the alkaline diet.

 

In this article, we will explore what the alkaline diet is, foods you can add to your diet plan, and the potential benefits.

 

What is the alkaline diet?

 

As mentioned above, modern society has drifted towards eating foods that are more convenient, more easily packaged, and designed to have insatiable tastes, causing a rise in acidity for our diet plans. The alkaline diet is a theory that if you adopt a low acid diet and embrace a more alkaline food chart, you can actually stand to reduce acidity in the body and improve areas of your health. 

 

It is becoming popular with proponents across the world as a way to combat common symptoms associated with acidosis, such as maintaining bone density, reducing the risk of kidney stones, minimising acid reflux and more. While more research is needed to provide consensus around this theory, but it is built around the ‘acid-ash hypothesis’. This is the belief that a residue of metabolic waste is left behind in the body (similar to how ash is left behind after something is burned). When this acidic ‘ash’ is left behind, it can increase the acidity of your blood, and leave you more vulnerable to illnesses and diseases. By the same token, choosing foods that are greater in alkaline content can leave behind protective ‘alkaline ash’ to lower these acidic levels in the blood and associated risk.

 

Acidic vs. Alkaline Diet Foods and ph level


The level of acidity and alkalinity within the body is measured by what is known as ‘pH levels’, or the acid-base balance. The natural state of the human body is set to maintain a healthy balance of acidity and alkalinity, which are the two ends of the spectrum. On a scale of 0 (highly acidic) to 14 (highly alkaline), our pH levels should sit at around 7.40, with a healthy range of 0.2 units on either side.  

 

When we continue to eat foods and drink beverages that have a high acidity level (e.g. processed foods), it can push our pH levels down creating an unnatural acidic state in the body with potentially negative health implications.

 

As a result, supporters of the alkaline diet believe that consuming meals with high alkalinity (or high pH food (e.g. real foods) can raise the pH levels in the body, offsetting the extended amount of acidity present and supports creating a balance in the body.

 

Alkaline Foods: What You Can & Can’t Eat?

Given the information provided above, if one were to adopt the alkaline diet, then there is a wide variety of foods that need to be avoided because of their high acidity levels, and those that we should integrate more into our alkaline diet plan. It also works well for vegetarians and vegans, with the removal of most meats and dairy products.

 

LOW (Acidic forming) pH Foods to Avoid

  • Meats, (processed) such as canned lunch meat, lean beef, corned beef, turkey and veal
  • Poultry, fish and eggs
  • Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and ice cream
  • Cheese, particularly parmesan, cheddar, hard cheese, and cottage cheese
  • Grains, including rice, oats, pasta, and most bread
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Salted peanuts
  • Any processed foods and soft drinks
  • Saturated fats, canola oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil.

 

Alkaline Diet Foods & Water to Have

  • Seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly leafy greens, cucumber, kale, broccoli, avocado, lemons, and peas
  • Nuts, almonds, seeds and legumes
  • Currants and raisins and dates
  • Unsweetened fruit juices
  • Coconut oil, Olive Oil
  • Alkaline mineral water

 

Best water for alkaline diet?

 

When we think of water, our first inclination may be the steady stream fresh from the tap. There are, in fact, water beverages that are capable of holding a steady alkaline content to further aid your new diet plan. For example, the zazen Alkaline Water System replicates the processes performed by Mother Nature’s natural water cycle to create a consistent source of alkaline mineral water, rich in minerals and electrolytes, achieving optimum cellular hydration.

 

How Does the Alkaline Diet Affect the Body & What are the potential benefits of the Alkaline Diet?

As mentioned above, there is still more research required to overcome the alkaline diet myths, but proponents of the method do share a list of potential benefits.

 

For example, some studies have suggested possible causation with cancer and a high acidic diet, as the increased acidity creates an environment that allows cancer cells to thrive. These studies were conducted in a petri dish and do not take into account all of the features of tumour growth, however the increased consumption of alkaline foods and beverages can potentially work to counteract these environments to build a more alkaline and healthier balance in the body.

 

Cutting out many of the foods and beverages mentioned will also help with general weight loss, increased energy and overall vitality. Alcohol, processed sugars, saturated fats – these create significant fat stores that the body needs an opportunity to burn off.

 

Furthermore, early evidence suggests a range of potential benefits for our internal organs and systems, including:

  • Prevention of kidney stones & kidney disease
  • Minimise inflammation
  • Stronger bones and muscles
  • Better heart health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Clearer brain function
  • Reduced lower back pain
  • Lowered risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Better sleep

 

Is the Alkaline Diet Harmful?

 

Now that we have explored what the alkaline diet is, we can see that it simply doubles down on a range of healthy eating options. Alkaline foods and diet plans are largely made up of fruits, vegetables, fresh meats and the right quality and quantity of  water , whilst removing the dangerous amounts of processed meals and processed foods we consume as a society.

 

Who is the Alkaline Diet Best For?

 

With the potential alkaline diet benefits mentioned above, the shift may prove effective for most people. With that in mind, it may be especially beneficial for those struggling with their heart health, osteoarthritis, diabetes, or those looking to decrease their risk of cancer.

 

Learn More on How an Alkaline Diet Plan Can Reduce the Acidity In Your Body

Following an alkaline diet plan may prove difficult for many who have a long history of consuming their favourite acidic foods and beverages. To maintain the health benefits, be sure to eat and drink a proper balance of vitamins, fibres and minerals, such as adequate protein from plant-based sources. For any specific medical conditions you are looking to treat, be sure to always first consult with a licensed medical professional before making any serious alterations to your diet.

 

References

 

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Sullivan D, Wells D, pH Imbalance: How Your Body Maintains Acid-Base Balance,Healthline (2018) https://www.healthline.com/health/ph-imbalance

 

The University of Texas, The alkaline diet: What you need to know,MD Anderson Cancer Centre (2018) https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/the-alkaline-diet--what-you-need-to-know.h18-1592202.html

 

Kato Y, Ozawa S, Miyamoto C, Maehata Y, Suzuki A, Maeda T, Baba Y. Acidic extracellular microenvironment and cancer. Cancer Cell Int. 2013 Sep 3;13(1):89. doi: 10.1186/1475-2867-13-89. PMID: 24004445; PMCID: PMC3849184.

 

Welch AA, MacGregor AJ, Skinner J, Spector TD, Moayyeri A, Cassidy A. A higher alkaline dietary load is associated with greater indexes of skeletal muscle mass in women. Osteoporos Int. 2013 Jun;24(6):1899-908. doi: 10.1007/s00198-012-2203-7. Epub 2012 Nov 14. PMID: 23152092.

 

Passey C, Reducing the Dietary Acid Load: How a More Alkaline Diet Benefits Patients With Chronic Kidney Disease,Journal of Renal Nutrition (2017) DOI: https VOLUME 27, ISSUE 3, P151-160, MAY 01, 2017 https://www.jrnjournal.org/article/S1051-2276(16)30188-1/fulltext

 

Collins S, Mikstas C, Alkaline Diets,Nourish by WebMD (2020) https://www.webmd.com/diet/a-z/alkaline-diets