What is an Alkaline Diet?
Before we go any further with this topic we need to understand the essentials of this diet, its purpose, the way it works and the way a person should approach this diet. So what is the Alkaline Diet?
An alkaline Diet is a convolution of loosely related diets which are aiming at certain food groups in order to control the acidity and pH of your bodily fluids, those include urine and blood, thus affecting your overall health and also preventing or treating some diseases. It is known that diets such as this have managed to prevent formation of kidney stones, plaque formations, accumulation of calcium in urine; also this diet builds stronger bone structure and it can reduce spasms in muscle tissue. However based on studies conducted there are no clear evidence yet to support all of these claims.
Since much of the diet is focused on balancing your pH level we need to understand the exact meaning of this term.
Meaning of the pH level?
In chemistry pH is used in order to measure the acidity, also pH stands for the power of hydrogen and its concentration in your body. Scaling of pH goes from 1 to 14, with 7 as a neutral condition. The level of pH in human body is around 7.30 to 7.45 and it is considered to be slightly alkaline, anything lesser than this level of concentration of pH is deemed as acidic. The level of your pH can be easily tested by using pieces of litmus paper on your saliva or urine in the morning before eating or drinking anything. Balancing of your pH level doesn’t only affect your physical health but it also influences your state of mind and overall mental health, this balancing of pH level can be done by proper nutrition which includes alkaline diet.
Problem of modern diets and its effect on human body
As some studies show, our diets and foods that we consume in everyday life have significantly change during our history as a mankind. In the last two-hundred years there have been the most radical changes in human diets, mass industrialization and agriculture revolution are the main contributors to these changes. Today’s food is much less magnesium, chloride and potassium and with more sodium. Of course kidneys maintain normal levels of electrolytes of these substances which are needed to prevent excessive acidity, however our organs suffer some amount of damage.
Ratio of sodium and potassium and in most people’s diets has changed suddenly, in the past potassium has always outnumbered sodium. However today, people that eat Regular American Diet consume three times more sodium than it’s actually needed. This American or Western diet doesn’t exclude children, which are also exposed to diets with high concentration of simple sugars , chloride, refined fats and sodium.
These radical changes in human diets lead to deterioration of the optimal pH level in the human body. Changes in the pH level affect and accelerate aging process, usually cause lower organ efficiency, high levels of acidity affect our bones, cells and overall functions of the human body and mind.
Benefits of the alkaline diet:
Bone density and muscles will be protected and rejuvenated because of mineral intake you will be having during this diet, also this will affect your overall body maintenance. Increased consumption of foods such as vegetables and fruits will increase bone and muscle strength as well as avoid their exposure over the years. Alkaline diet allows balance of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphate which are essential for lean muscle buildup and bone structure.
This diet will help you with chronic pain and inflammation while lowering risks of hypertension and stroke. Various studies have shown the link between lower chronic pain and alkaline diet which is usually caused by the lack of minerals that this diet in fact provides. Recipients of the alkaline diet have shown a major success when it comes to decreasing persistent back pain. Anti-aging effect of the diet is evident in the increased production of the growth hormone, also this diet improves cardiovascular health and resolves problems such as high levels of cholesterol and even memory loss.
Improved vitamin absorption, cancer protection and overall immune function can be achieved by following the alkaline diet. Researchers suggest that the Apoptosis or the programmed cell death is more likely to happen in an alkalizing body, prevention of such things is convinced to be in the shift of pH levels caused by the modification in electrical charges that release proteins. Alkaline diet can decrease the chances of cancer and other diseases while also decreasing inflammation. The diet also provides an increased intake of magnesium which is highly beneficial for people who lack vitamin D. Insufficient magnesium usually causes muscle pains, heart complications, headaches, sleep problems even anxiety.
Lastly the alkaline diet can help you with you with maintaining healthy weight. When you replace consumption of acid-producing foods with more alkaline-producing nutrition you are decreasing inflammation and leptin levels which further affect your fat-burning capabilities. Alkaline diet allows your body to feel satisfied by achieving normal leptin levels with the amount of calories your body actually needs.
How to eat and what to eat
First of all whenever possible you should try and eat organic foods, produced on organic soils. Some studies suggest that these organic vegetables and fruits have a tendency to be much more alkalizing, furthermore plants that are grown on organic soils have increased mineral and vitamin concentration. Ideal pH for the soil should be somewhere in between six and seven, below 6, soil can be acidic and can deprive your plants from magnesium or calcium, on the other hand soils that are above 7 can leave out zinc and iron in vegetables. Soils that are organically sustained with wildlife or cattle tend to produce best and healthiest fruits and vegetables.
Alkaline foods that the diet should include:
- Fresh vegetables and fruits like: mushrooms, dates, spinach, cucumber, kale, wheat grass, broccoli, garlic, cabbage, green beans, celery, watermelon, ripe bananas, red beet, tomatoes, avocado, raisins,
- Raw foods, uncooked vegetables tend to be most alkalizing and they keep all of the minerals and vitamins that can be wasted during the cooking process. Lightly steaming or Juicing of vegetables and fruits are also acceptable.
- Alkaline water has pH of between nine and eleven and is far better than tap water. Also you can add baking soda, lime or lemon to boost water’s pH levels.
- Green drinks made from vegetables (usually green vegetables) are also filled with alkaline substances.
Foods you should avoid during the diet:
- Processed foods, especially salt which creates high amounts of acidity.
- Conventional meat and cold cuts
- Grains, processed corn and wheat
- Calcium rich product such as milk
- Caffeine drinks
- Rice, pasta, bread
There are also habits that can cause high acidity:
- Chronic stress
- Drug use/abuse and alcohol
- No exercise or even over-exercise
- Pollution, pesticides and herbicides
- High caffeine intake
- Poor eating habits
- Exposure to radiation, chemicals, building materials or overexposure to cell phones, computers or other similar electronic devices
Other questions about the diet:
Is the diet gluten-free?
It can be, but you need to check the labels for products that you buy. The diet also phases out foods that can cause allergies like milk, eggs, peanuts and is good for those who are trying to avoid sugar.
What’s the cost of the diet?
Most of the foods that you need for this diet can be found in stores for reasonable prices. Depending on where you live, strictly organic/homegrown food can be a bit more expensive but if you have the means you can try and produce it by yourself!
Is it hard or difficult to follow?
It isn’t hard physically because it doesn’t require physical exercises, on the other hand you will be cutting a lot of foods that many people are really keen on eating so it will represent a challenge in terms of discipline. It will be easier for vegetarians since most of the diet is build around fruits and vegetables.
Is it good and beneficial to our health?
Though the diet is relatively new it is already presenting remarkable results in weight loss (since it requires eating fruits and vegetables), better kidney functions, improved abdominal flora, also improved heart health and overall brain functions. The alkaline diet is recommended for treating patients with cholesterol, diabetes, heart problems and high blood pressure.
One of the main problems is that for the people who work they usually don’t have enough time to prepare all of the foods that are needed for the diet, and sometimes it can feel frustrating. Also it will require a certain level of disciple in order to skip sweets, coffee, alcohol and fast-food which are usually predetermined in our regular day to day diet. People who travel a lot can find themselves in a pickle.
Also lack of exercising, though it may seem as a mitigating circumstance, it isn’t necessarily good. Some kind of fitness, sport or any physical activity should be included in every diet. Many medical societies recommend at least 150 minutes of exercises per week, of course this can vary from person to person and their general physical abilities.
On the other hand the diet includes foods that have a positive effect on your pH levels, which is always good.A healthier heart, stronger bone structure and overall physical and mental health is improved by the intake of minerals and vitamins. The diet includes a lot of vegetables and fruits which is something vegetarians can look forward to.
Overall alkaline diet is good and can provide health benefits because it stimulates a person to eat healthier foods which are rich with minerals, fiber and vitamins. It also stimulates healthy weight loss not by food restriction but rather with food diversification and modification of your daily diet. It doesn’t require any special gear or supplements in order to work. Many people who are working out or are simply active in sports can implement alkaline diet in their daily routine, however people who don’t favor physical activities that much can also benefit from this diet by simply following the instructions and implementing the needed changes in their daily diet. The diet is user-friendly and doesn’t require special requirements. People of all ages including children can participate and benefit from the alkaline diet. Although there are still dietitians and other health professionals who do not recommend this kind of diet due to lack of probable evidence supporting any benefits of this diet.