An alkaline diet is where individuals replace acid-producing foods with more alkaline foods for better overall health. Being that this type of diet can aid in stabilizing the pH within your body, it is showing a lot of promise with helping to fight certain diseases even some cancers. In this article, we will explore what the diet is and the science behind it to better understand how it can improve health.
What is an Alkaline Diet?
More known as the alkaline ash or acid-alkaline diet, with its main purpose being that it can alter the pH within a persons body. This is the measurement or balance of the acidity or alkalinity in the body with proper balance being very good for overall health. Your body’s natural metabolism (the conversion of food to energy) is a chemical reaction that is made to help breakdown food and convert it to energy for your body to be able to function properly. After the chemical reaction, a metabolic residue is left behind called “metabolic waste”. This waste can be either acidic, alkaline, or neutral with the diets main purpose of keeping the waste in better balance.
Basically, if you eat certain foods that leave behind more acidic waste, your blood will be more acidic. The same goes for if you eat food that are more alkaline, you blood will be the same. Studies have shown that individuals with more acidic blood are more prone to illnesses whereas with alkaline blood it is the opposite and can actually protect the body from illnesses. This meaning that your body is in better balance and can improve health.
Some components of foods that can leave an acidic waste include: Proteins, sulphur and phosphate foods. Alkaline waste examples are: potassium, calcium and magnesium rich foods. Here are some food groups that are considered neutral, acidic or alkaline…
Neutral- Sugars, starches and natural fats.
Acidic- Dairy, eggs, grains, meat, poultry, fish and even alcohol
Alkaline- Vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts.
What are normal pH levels in your body?
Understanding pH levels within the body is an important aspect of the alkaline diet. As mentioned above, pH is the measurement of how acidic or alkaline things are. Keeping your pH in check is important as if one is too high or too low, people can experience problems or be more likely to become ill. pH levels typically range from 0-14 and below or some ideal levels that are conducive for better health.
- Alkaline- 7.1-14.0
- Neutral- 7.0
- Acidic- 0.0-6.9
With the alkaline diet it is best to keep your alkaline over 7 and your acidity under 7. pH levels can be checked through a persons urine with pH sticks to monitor the acidity and alkalinity. Being that there is no set level for every person, it’s important to remember that pH levels can vary greatly between person to person, so finding a correct balance for you may be different for others.
Another important factor to remember is that your body needs certain acids to function properly such as your stomach which requires a lot of acid to be able to break down the foods you eat. So if your acidity is too low you could risk problems as the same goes for alkalinity, as if this drops too low within your blood, you risk serious health problems that need to be taken care of right away. With that in mind, having levels that are too high or too low usually stem from other diseases like diabetes, starvation or too much alcohol intake.
What does the Alkaline diet Affect?
It is extremely important for your pH levels to be consistent within your blood for health purposes. If levels were to drop out of the normal range, cells within the body would stop functioning and this can be fatal to a person. Your body naturally regulates its own pH levels and is very effective in keeping things in balance, this is called acid-base homeostasis.
The good news is that food can rarely affect the pH levels within your blood and only cause small fluctuations in the normal areas. What the alkaline diet can affect is the pH levels within a persons urine. In fact, getting rid of acids in your urine is one of the ways your body naturally regulates pH in your blood. For example, if a person eats something that has high acid levels, your urine will be acidic for hours later while your body works to remove the acidic waste. Remember, checking pH levels in your urine is not the same as the actual pH levels throughout your blood but being able to see how acidic your urine may be is a good way to keep within a more alkaline diet.
What does osteoporosis have to do with the Alkaline Diet?
The decrease of bone mineral is a progressive disease called osteoporosis. More common amongst women this disease can cause bone density loss and fractures. Alkaline diets can help maintain proper pH levels within your body and promotes protection against acid-producing foods for better absorption of minerals like calcium for better bone health.
Being that your kidneys and respiratory system both aid in controlling the pH in a persons blood, alkaline diets further help these organs by making them not work as hard to get rid over the over abundance of acid coming from the foods you eat. Again, it is vital for balance throughout the body as it needs certain acids to function properly however, alkaline diets show the promotion of better absorption of calcium and collagen both of which aid in better bone health.
High Acid Diet and Cancer
There are several disagreements over high acidic diets being a cause of cancer. These disagreements say that cancer can only grow in acidic environments meaning having a higher alkaline diet would prevent cancer cells from growing. However, there have been many studies stating that there is no direct link between diet-induced acidity and cancer. As stated above, alkaline diets do not affect the pH levels within the blood meaning cells in the blood are not influenced.
It’s important to know that cancer cells can form in healthy body tissues with normal alkalinity therefore, cancer cells can in fact form in alkaline environments. However, cancer cells do grow faster with acidic levels but the tumors themselves produce the influx of acid causing the rapid growth.
Alkaline Diets and our Ancestors
Scientific and evolutionary studies on alkaline diets and our ancestors have been drawn inconclusive. Some studies state that pre-argricultutral people ate more of an alkaline diet with one study estimating 87%. Another study believes that it was more of a 50-50 percentage of humans eating an acidic-inducing and alkaline diet splitting it down the middle. A good thing to remember is diets from our ancestors were greatly influenced upon the region of where they lived. The farther away from the equator a person was probably ate a more acidic diet whereas near the tropics a person ate a more alkaline diet. This is due to the access of different food sources and what was available in their areas.
The alkaline diet encourages individuals to eat more vegetables, fruits, and plant based foods instead of processed foods. Overall, eating such foods is good for your health and promotes better alkaline levels within a persons body. Alkaline levels throughout the body can help promote better absorption of certain minerals which aids in slowing or preventing certain diseases.
Studies have shown that alkaline diets have little affect on blood pH levels meaning no real evidence is shown that this diet can prevent certain health issues. However, eating an alkaline diet in general is better for general health. People with certain diseases such as chronic kidney disease could benefit from alkaline diets due to the lower acidic levels which take some strain off the kidneys for better overall function.
- Metabolic waste can directly affect levels within a persons body.
- pH measures the acidity and alkalinity levels.
- A persons body naturally regulates pH levels.
- Diets do not affect the pH in blood but can affect levels in urine.
- Studies show that alkaline diets cannot prevent cancer as cells can grow in alkaline and acidic environments.
- Research shows that our ancestors both ate alkaline and acidic diets.
- Out of range pH levels within the blood can be fatal and need prompt medical attention.
- The human body needs certain acids to function properly.
- The respiratory system and the kidneys both aid in regulating the pH levels in the blood.
Remember to always speak with a medical professional before starting any diet. Alkaline diets can be good for your health but it’s important to know that not all diets are for everyone. Make sure that you are in good health before making major changes and research and gather the information necessary before starting any diet. While an alkaline diet is healthy, finding the best diet for your individual needs is important for the overall health and happiness.