The ABC’s of an Alkaline Diet

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green and red healthy foodThe alkaline diet has been touted by celebrities like Gwenyth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, trainers and even health care professional like Dr. Mehmet Oz. The alkaline diet has been recommended for weight loss, overall health, anti-aging, improved energy levels and as a treatment for nearly every ailment from Arthritis to Zoster. But what is an alkaline diet and what can it really do for you?


Alkaline Eating: The Basics of Acids & Alkalines

pH is a measurement of how acidic or alkaline something is. Remember those fun test strips from high school science class? Your skin has an optimal pH, foods and drinks have a pH, your stomach has an ideal pH and many other things can be measured to determine their pH. A pH of 0 is completely acidic, a pH of 14 is entirely alkaline and a pH of 7 is neutral, neither more acidic nor more alkaline. The idea behind the alkaline diet is that eating certain foods can help sustain your body’s optimal pH. One issue with this diet is the body has more than one optimal pH level depending on which system you are looking at. The skin has an acid mantle , a slightly acidic (4.5 – 6.2) film that protects your skin from bacteria, viruses and other potential pathogens. Your stomach has a pH ranging from 1.35-3.5, far more acidic as the assist in digestion. Optimal blood pH, however, must be mildly alkaline with a normal pH range of 7.35 to 7.45. The pH of urine can vary between 4.6 and 8 and though urine pH can provide you with fast feedback on your diet, a change in urine pH does not indicate that a change in blood pH will follow. Your body will generally maintain its pH balance regardless of diet, making the theory of altering the bodies’ alkaline/acid balance through diet hard to prove. On the plus side, the alkaline diet itself isn’t terribly risky. The balance of alkaline forming, suggested foods are healthful, the diet is low in risks though it can be bit stringent for most people.


Do You Want To Try An Alkaline Diet?

There are many permutations of the alkaline diet, many of which claim to have the ‘secret formula,’ but they all basically boil down to the same main concept: consume a diet high in acid-forming foods and low in alkaline foods. What does that mean when it comes time to hit the grocery store? The alkaline diet is predominantly vegetarian. It is suggested that you eat mainly fresh vegetables, some fresh fruits, and a mix of alkaline supporting foods like soy products, some nuts, grains, and legumes. Acid encouraging foods like meat, poultry and even fish are avoided. Foods like dairy products, processed foods, white sugar, white flour, and caffeine are also strongly discouraged.




The Verdict

An alkaline diet when viewed through the food choices it recommends certainly can be healthy. Any diet that limits processed foods, sugar and puts an emphasis on vegetables and fruits is better that the diet of the average person today. Likewise diets that are comprised of a great deal of animal protein can have adverse health impacts like raising the risk of kidney stones, high cholesterol and impaired kidney function just to name a few. There is some risk that the alkaline diet followed too stringently could result in a protein intake too low and lower than needed levels of calcium. Of course, you should always consult a doctor before embarking on a significantly different diet or exercise plan, especially if you suffer from any chronic health problems. And internet searchers beware, because of the popularity and media coverage of the alkaline diet, there is a great deal of false and misleading information about what an alkaline diet can do for you. If a website is selling something whether it’s unregulated supplements or even recipes, chances are you will find better information elsewhere.

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