The alkaline diet (or alkaline ash diet) is a clean eating plan that helps switch the body from an acidic to an alkaline pH. You will consume a lot of fruits and veggies that will help raise the pH of the body.
The advocates of this diet assume that the alkaline pH of the body helps to take care of a number of problems like joint pain, digestive issues, weight gain, muscle fatigue, etc.
But does this claim have any scientific basis? Or is it just another fad?
How Does The Alkaline Diet Work?
The alkaline diet works on the mere principle of pH of the body and metabolic residue of foods.
pH is the measure of acidity or alkalinity of a solution. And the pH scale varies from 0-14. The mid-point, which is 7, is “neutral.” The pH of water is 7. Any pH value below 7 is “acidic,” and a pH value above 7 is “alkaline.”
The pH value of blood is alkaline (7.35), and that of the stomach is acidic (1.5-3.5). Your body’s pH depends on the foods you devour. Because foods also have pH values. Foods with acidic pH cause inflammation and stress, ending in weak immunity, increased fatigue, difficulty in losing weight, and a hundred other problems.
But, you must also know that the pH value of foods is not determined by their physical property but by the metabolic residue they leave behind. Metabolic ash residue can either be acidic, neutral, or alkaline.
Most fruits and vegetables leave an alkaline residue post metabolism. And the alkaline diet inspires dieters to consume veggies, fruits, and other foods that leave an alkaline metabolic residue. As a result, the pH value of your body will rise and get to a desirable alkaline pH.
PRAL Scale Score Of Foods
PRAL or Potential Renal Acid Load is the measure of the estimated amount of alkalinity and acidity of a food post metabolism. The foods are given a negative (alkaline), positive (acidic), and neutral values.
Based on the measure of protein, mineral, and phosphorus left behind post metabolism, your body will either be acidic or alkaline. Protein and phosphoric acid form phosphoric acid and sulfuric acid post metabolism. So, your body tends to be more acidic.
On the other hand, when fruits, veggies, and other alkaline metabolic residue foods are metabolized, they leave behind minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
What Really Happens When Your Body Is Too Acidic?
Here’s what happens when you consume too many foods that leave an acidic metabolic residue.
- When your body becomes too acidic, your bones start to become weak and brittle. And that’s because foods that leave an acidic metabolic residue are lower in nutrients that are required to strengthen and maintain bones.
- When you consume acidic foods, you may suffer from renal failure. And that accelerates skeletal muscle loss.
- Metabolic acidosis in children has also shown to affect the growth hormone that results in short stature.
- An acidic environment is perfect for cancer cells to thrive while an alkaline environment prevents cancer cell growth.
Symptoms That Your Body Has An Acidic pH
- Depression and anxiety
- Joint pain
- Muscle weakness
- Frequent cold and cough
- Confusion and brain fog
- Fatigue and low energy
Too much acidity in the body is neutralized by bicarbonates present in the body. But if you are constantly stressed out or do a strenuous workout, your bicarbonate reserves might get depleted soon. And that’s why you need to include foods that balance the pH of your body.
Best Alkaline Foods
- Fresh fruits and vegetables promote alkalinity the most. Some of the top picks include mushrooms, citrus, dates, raisins, spinach, grapefruit, tomatoes, avocado, summer black radish, alfalfa grass, barley grass, cucumber, kale, jicama, wheatgrass, broccoli, oregano, garlic, ginger, green beans, endive, cabbage, celery, red beet, watermelon, figs, and ripe bananas.
- All raw foods: Ideally try to consume a good portion of your produce raw. Uncooked fruits and vegetables are said to be biogenic or “life-giving.” Cooking foods deplete alkalizing minerals. Increase your intake of raw foods, and try juicing or lightly steaming fruits and vegetables.
- Plant proteins: Almonds, navy beans, lima beans, and most other beans are good choices.
Alkaline water: Alkaline water has a pH of 9 to 11. Distilled water is just fine to drink. Water filtered with a reverse osmosis filter is slightly acidic, but it’s still a far better option than tap water or purified bottled water. Adding pH drops, lemon or lime, or baking soda to your water can also boost its alkalinity.
- Green drinks: Drinks made from green vegetables and grasses in powder form are loaded with alkaline-forming foods and chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is structurally similar to our own blood and helps alkalize the blood.
Other foods to eat on an alkaline diet include sprouts, wheatgrass, fermented soy like natto or tempeh, and seeds.
Anti-Alkaline Foods and Habits
Foods that contribute most to acidity
- High-sodium foods: Processed foods contain tons of sodium chloride — table salt — which constricts blood vessels and creates acidity.
- Cold cuts and conventional meats
- Processed cereals (such as corn flakes)
- Caffeinated drinks and alcohol
- Oats and whole wheat products: All grains, whole or not, create acidity in the body. Americans ingest most of their plant food quota in the form of processed corn or wheat.
- Milk: Calcium-rich dairy products cause some of the highest rates of osteoporosis. That’s because they create acidity in the body! When your bloodstream becomes too acidic, it will steal calcium (a more alkaline substance) from the bones to try to balance out the pH level. So the best way to prevent osteoporosis is to eat lots of alkaline green leafy veggies!
- Peanuts and walnuts
- Pasta, rice, bread, and packaged grain products
What other kinds of habits can cause acidity in your body?
The biggest offenders include:
- Alcohol and drug use
- High caffeine intake
- Antibiotic overuse
- Artificial sweeteners
- Chronic stress
- Declining nutrient levels in foods due to industrial farming
- Low levels of fiber in the diet
- Lack of exercise
- Excess animal meats in the diet (from non-grass-fed sources)
- Excess hormones from foods, health and beauty products, and plastics
- Exposure to chemicals and radiation from household cleaners, building materials, computers, cell phones, and microwaves
- Food coloring and preservatives
- Pesticides and herbicides
- Poor chewing and eating habits
- Processed and refined foods
- Shallow breathing
Alkaline Foods Benefits
- Help reduce bloating
- Improve and support digestion
- Aid weight loss
- Reduce inflammation
- Reduce muscle fatigue
- May help reduce acne
- May help improve immunity
Alkaline Diet Vs. Keto Diet
The keto diet is the most popular diet of the decade. And many dieters have achieved great results by following it. But keto is also not the go-to diet for vegans and vegetarians and people who suffer from acidity, bloating, kidney stones, and gout.
The two main components of the keto diet are fats and protein. This means you will be consuming a lot of animal products (meat, sausage, fish, butter, cheese, and mayonnaise) and plant sources of protein (lentils, soybean, and tofu). And though these foods are healthy, they are a strict no-no for people who regularly suffer from gut issues, joint pain, inflammation, and acne.
The alkaline diet has the capacity to reduce acidity in the body. And it is vegan and vegetarian-friendly.
So, if you think that keto is not your cup of tea, but you do need to follow a diet that will help with your bloating issues, skin problems, and fatigue, the alkaline diet is the best.
Is The Alkaline Diet For You?
Yes, it is if you are a junk food addict and regularly suffer from gut and skin issues. But if you are healthy and fit while following your current diet, continue being on it. Remember, you must take your doctor’s opinion before trying this diet.
The alkaline diet has many health benefits. And, for sure, you will see great results if you follow it. It will not only improve your lifestyle but also lessen stress and anxiety. Though the alkaline diet doesn’t require you to work out, I recommend that you do at least three hours of yoga/tai chi/swimming/running/dancing (or any other type of workout) per week. Your body and mind will reconnect, and this, in turn, will improve your mental and physical strength. Take your doctor’s advice today and be the better you.
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