The popularity of alkaline foods as part of a healthy diet has continued to pick up momentum as people are experiencing not only tremendous health benefits, but also weight management success by including alkalizing foods as the cornerstone of many weight loss plans. Many health professionals have now suggested that an alkaline diet may prevent a number of diseases and result in significant health benefits. The reason being that an alkaline diet will help keep your body’s pH slightly “alkaline” versus “acidic” which can often be the root issue to many health issues.
What is pH?
Acidity and alkalinity are measured using the pH scale. The pH scale is measured on a 14 point scale with 0 being most acidic, 7 being neutral, and 14 being most alkaline.
In chemistry, pH is a measure of the activity of the hydrogen ion. There are many definitions for what pH stands for with the most common being: Potential of Hydrogen and Power of Hydrogen.
Why is pH Important To Your Body?
The same way your body is designed to maintain a temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, your body is also programmed to maintain a slightly alkaline pH balance. Dr. Young author of the pH Miracle writes the desired range for your circulating blood should be between 7.350 to 7.380 and ideally should hit right at 7.365.
Most research you will come across make a similar claim that human life requires a tightly controlled pH level in the serum of about 7.4 (7.35-7.45) to survive. Your body will go to great lengths to maintain this pH balance even if it has to resort to leaching calcium from your bones or magnesium from your heart in an attempt to protect itself from acidic damage. This of course can lead to other issues overtime.
Are Alkaline Foods Best Suited For Humans?
There are many theories on why an alkaline diet is better suited for human health and well being with a prominent theory being that it is reflected in our genes. When it comes to the alkaline versus acidic foods in the human diet, there has been a considerable change in our diets within a relatively short period of time from an evolutionary point of view. The majority of our evolution was as a hunter gather civilization, which more recently transitioned into an agricultural society, and now into our current industrialized society.
It is argued that the processed and commonly consumed acidic foods in our modern times are not a healthy match for our genetics. It is also argued that due to our farming practices there are less alkalizing minerals in our diet as the soils are depleted of many key alkalizing minerals. The only way minerals can make it into the fruits and vegetables is through the soil since plants cannot make their own minerals like they can vitamins.
Which Foods Are Acidic?
It might not come as a surprise that highly refined foods such as most sugars, oils, and starches are acid forming. Additionally, other foods many typically consider healthy such as foods high in protein like meat, milk, and even most whole grains are also acid-forming. Though most fruits are alkaline forming, there are a few that are on the acidic side such as prunes, plums and cranberries. Highly refined and processed foods that typically consist mainly of fats, sugars, grains, and simple starches, along with protein-rich foods are also acidifying.
When you take into consideration how much of our food habits these days consist of processed, fast foods and “healthy” acidic foods you can see why there is so much concern over this topic in the health industry.
Symptoms of Acidosis
There are many signs of acidosis if you know what to pay attention to. Commonly attributed symptoms include arthritis, joint pains and osteoporosis. Some researchers claim that weight gain and retention of fat can also be a symptom as your body produces more fat cells to protect itself from acidosis.
Alkaline Minerals, Acidosis and Osteoporosis
Alkaline minerals are also an important addition to your diet especially if the foods you are eating are not rich in these types of minerals. Alkaline minerals include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, chromium, selenium, and iron. As your body works to maintain the optimum blood pH levels, your body can leach minerals such as calcium from your bones to help regulate your pH. This of course can lead to bone related issues such as osteoporosis and other issues related to fragility of your bones.
Which Foods Are Alkaline?
Most vegetables, grasses and fruits contain higher proportions of alkalizing elements than other foods.
Here are some common examples of alkaline foods in these 3 main categories:
Vegetables: Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celery, Green Beans, Kale, Lettuce, Onions, Peppers, Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, and Tomatoes
Grasses: Barley Grass, Wheat Grass
Fruits: Apple, Avocado, Banana, Berries, Cantaloupe, Coconut, Grapes, Grapefruit, Honeydew Melon, Lemon, Lime, Orange, Peach, Pear, Pineapple, Watermelon
You might have noticed some fruits on this list that you would not typically think of as “alkaline” such as the citrus fruits such as grapefruit, lemon, lime and orange.
It’s important to note, it’s more about the alkalizing affect the food will have on the body, versus the actual pH of the food. For example lemons are very acidic, however after digestion have an alkaline forming affect on the body. Meat on the other hand will test alkaline but after digestion is acid forming in the body.
How To Create An Alkaline Food Diet Plan
Most Alkaline diet advisors will point you in the direction of trying to create a balanced “whole foods” diet, which is skewed towards alkalinity. Some proponents will shoot for 80-90% of the foods eaten being alkaline while others advice at least staying within the 60-80% range of the diet being alkaline forming foods.
As a rule of thumb, the more you can avoid processed foods and fill up your plate with fruits, vegetables and leafy greens with smaller proportions of protein sources such as lean meats, the easier it will be for to follow an alkaline food plan. You may also wish to keep an alkaline/acidic foods chart handy if you want to be stricter on monitoring what foods you are putting in your body.
For Additional Alkaline Foods Resources See Below: