The alkaline diet has gained popularity for longevity and staving off diseases. Research and theories claim that adding alkaline foods offers several health benefits starting from weight loss to heart care to bone health.
What is the Alkaline Diet?
The alkaline diet is also known as the acid-ash diet, and the pH diet aims to balance the ph of your body through diet, keeping it alkaline. Acidic foods make your blood ph acidic, and alkaline foods make it alkaline.
The food we eat undergoes digestion, absorption, and metabolism in the body. These processes leave behind a residue called metabolic ash. This metabolic ash is either acidic or alkaline. The acid or alkaline pH of the metabolic waste has a direct effect on our body and health.
The acidic ash is associated with morbidity and an increased risk of chronic diseases. The alkaline ash, on the other hand, is protective and offers several health benefits.
What is pH?
Before we start with the alkaline diet, let’s see, what is pH?
pH is the measure of acidity or alkalinity and stands short for the potential of hydrogen. It is measure on a scale of 0-14.
An acidic medium means a lower pH value. An alkaline medium means a higher pH value. A neutral pH is 7, and most body fluids fall in the pH range of 7.4.
Our body fluids are alkaline as well as acidic.
For example, blood has a neutral in ph. The stomach fluids are highly acidic owing to hydrochloric acid.
It is crucial to maintain the pH of the body as any changes can be fatal.
Kidneys maintain this acid-base balance in the body by balancing the minerals sodium, potassium, magnesium, and chlorine.
The Alkaline Diet
The alkaline diet proposes to eat alkaline foods and eliminate acid-forming foods. It is a form of a vegetarian and vegan diet. Since it restricts cereals, it can also be called gluten-free.
Following an alkaline diet plan requires some effort but, it is worth every while.
The Alkaline Food List: What to Eat?
- Fruits and vegetables form the bulk of the alkaline diet. They can be eaten raw or as juices and soups. Some of the best alkaline fruits and vegetables to be added include mushrooms, citrus fruits, dates, raisins, grapefruit, spinach, cucumber, kale, wheatgrass, cabbage, watermelon, figs, garlic and ginger, oregano, tomato, avocado, broccoli, green beans, etc.
- Plant proteins – includes nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes. Soya bean, chickpeas or garbanzo beans, peas, sprouts are few legumes you need to add to your alkaline diet plan.
- Alkalizing water – is water with a pH range between 9-11. Adding lemon or lime boosts the alkalinity of the water.
- Green drinks – include drinks made from green leafy vegetables and plants. These vegetables are high in chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is structurally similar to blood and helps alkalizes the body.
The foods to include in an alkaline diet are less but diverse varieties of allowed food groups add diversity to the diet.
Foods to avoid in an Alkaline Diet
Eliminating the following foods from your alkaline diet plan is crucial as they leave an acidic residue.
- High sodium foods – processed, packaged foods that flood our markets are high in sodium and highly acidic.
- Egg and animal protein – are good sources of proteins but highly acidic and need to be restricted.
- Milk and milk products – dairy, though high in calcium, leave an acidic residue.
- Oats and whole wheat products, processed cereals are also avoided.
- Caffeinated drinks and alcohol consumption should be discouraged.
- Foods with Artificial sweeteners, coloring, and additives.
Health benefits of the Alkaline Diet
The alkaline diet is highly acclaimed and famous for the health benefits it has to offer. However, many of these health claims are still under research.
1. Alkaline Diet and Bone Health
A decrease in bone strength and muscle wasting is a sign of aging. Research shows that an alkaline diet high in fruits and vegetables offers protection by balancing minerals critical to building bones and maintaining muscle mass. These minerals include calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Vitamin D plays a significant role in bone health. The alkaline diet helps increase the absorption of vitamin D by improving the production of growth hormones.
2. Alkaline Diet and Heart Health
Many heart-related complications like cholesterol, stroke, hypertension and atherosclerosis are due to inflammation and consumption of acid-producing foods high in sodium, sugars, and unhealthy fat.
An alkaline diet rich in fruits, vegetables, plant proteins, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats helps reverse inflammation and improves cardiovascular health.
3. Alkaline Diet and Chronic pain
We all complain of headaches, joint pains, and muscle spasms now and then. These chronic pain and even menstrual cramps are due to acidosis .i.e. increased acidic ash in the body.
Many studies associate alkaline diet with decreased chronic pain. Research by the Society of minerals and trace elements in Germany reported that people who took alkaline supplements daily for four weeks reported a significant decrease in chronic back pain.
4. Alkaline Diet and Cancer
Cancer cells need an acidic environment to grow and multiply.
A research article in the British journal of radiology showed that cancerous cell death is more achievable in an alkaline environment. Maintaining a steady alkaline pH can help prevent cancer.
However, one hypothesis also highlights that cancer cells do not need an acid pH but can create an acidic environment by themselves and multiply. (source)
Nonetheless, inducing an alkaline environment helps certain chemotherapeutic drugs work better.
5. Alkaline Diet and Weight loss
One reason why alkaline diets create quite a stir was related to their ability to promote weight loss. The alkaline diet for weight loss has been under scrutiny these past years.
The alkaline diet helps in weight loss and prevents obesity by lowering the hormone Leptin and inflammation in the body.
The hormone Leptin helps regulate hunger signals and fat burning. The alkaline diet for weight loss includes fruits and vegetables that are anti-inflammatory. Anti-inflammatory foods help achieve normal levels of Leptin and promote weight loss.
Does The Alkaline Diet Work?
There are researches which speak both pro and against the benefits of this diet. The health claims of the alkaline diet are still under study.
However, the alkaline diet has more to offer than harm. Eating fruits and vegetables, legumes, and other super-foods like nuts will only make you healthy and strong.