- Do you have signs of an “acidic” diet?
- How to test your acid load with pH paper
- Common myths about the Alkaline Diet
- Does the alkaline diet work?
- The Pancreas Center
- What is the alkaline diet?
- How can whole grains and milk be considered acidic?
- Is your body too acidic?
- What about alkaline water?
- Is there anything good about the alkaline diet?
- What Dr. Melinda Ratini Says:
- Alkaline Versus Acidic Foods: What’s the Difference?
- What does pH balance actually refer to?
- What does this have to do with my body?
- How do you know if a food is considered alkaline or acidic?
- Is finding a pH “balance” all hype—or good for your health?
- What Is The Alkaline Plant-Based Diet and Should You Try It?
- The Alkaline Plant-Based Diet
- What Are Alkaline Plant-Based Diet Foods?
- Should You Try This Diet?
- But what does science say?
- Can an alkaline diet result in cancer prevention, weight loss, and other benefits?
- Do you need to eat alkaline?
- But First, What Is An Alkaline Diet, Anyway?
- The Alkaline Food Chart
- Hesitations, Hesitations, Hesitations
- The Challenge: One Month On The Alkaline Diet
- The Results: Does The Alkaline Diet Work?
- Alkaline Foods and Your Healthy Weight Loss
Do you have signs of an “acidic” diet?
- Weight gain
- Nonspecific aches and pains, especially in the bones and joints
- Acid reflux or heartburn
- Poor digestion, irritable bowel, intestinal cramping
- Fatigue, feeling of being “run down”
- Muscle weakness/loss of muscle
- Urinary tract problems
- Receding gums
- Kidney stones
- Bone loss
- Skin problems
How to test your acid load with pH paper
You can quantify your metabolic acid load with a simple pH test of your first-morning urine. As you begin your pH testing, know that the only test we recommend is the first-morning urine. We do not recommend testing any other urine sample or saliva. What we are looking for is the “equilibrated pH” of the urine after a night’s sleep. If you get up to urinate at night that’s fine. You can still measure your first-morning urine when you get up to stay. But be sure not to eat or get active when you get up to urinate in the night. While it is recommended to test the urine after six hours of uninterrupted sleep, that’s not possible for many people, so don’t worry. Just measure your first urine pH when you get up in the morning.
Obtain a role of Alkaline for Life® pH Hydrion pH paper, which measures pH from of 5.5 to 8. Tear off 2 inches or so of this paper strip and quickly dip it into a sample of your first-morning urine (or expose the paper strip quickly to your urine flow). Place this wet strip on a tissue to absorb excess urine and read it immediately using the color code given. The ideal pH range we are looking for is 6.5 to 7.5 for the first-morning urine. Readings below 6.5 suggest an undesirable level of metabolic acids, and any reading between 6.5 and 7.5 is fine. The goal is not to get a higher reading, but just to be in this range.
To make alkalizing easy, we offer our Alkaline Diet Starter Kit, which contains Dr. Brown’s book, The Acid Alkaline Food Guide; a supply of pH paper; recipes; and other materials you will need to develop your own Alkaline for Life® diet and to test your pH.
Common myths about the Alkaline Diet
Myth #1: Diet does not impact systemic pH balance.
It is true that the body produces a substantial amount of acid through everyday metabolic processes. The majority of these acids we produce are automatically buffered, neutralized, and excreted. This is because we cannot sustain life with a high accumulation of acid in the body. Because of the body’s essential ability to buffer the acids it produces, physicians often say something along the lines of “Don’t worry about pH balance. The body deals with excess acids effortlessly. If this weren’t true, you’d already be dead.”
On a larger scale, this is true — big changes in pH are serious problems and can be fatal. But we’re not talking about those big changes! What your doctor is overlooking is the fact that a small amount of acid accumulation can occur from dietary imbalance. This acid is called “metabolic acid” as it results from the body’s metabolism, and particularly the metabolism of food. Over a long period of time, this results in chronic, low-grade metabolic acidosis, which is damaging to health.
Myth #2: The acid- or alkaline-forming nature of a food can be determined by its taste.
Taste has little correlation with the acid-forming nature of a food. The critical variable in pH balance is not how the food tastes, but its impact once it has been metabolized. A food is alkalizing if it ultimately adds bicarbonate, an alkalizing compound, to the system, as opposed to adding free hydrogen to the system, which is acid.
For example, citrus fruits taste very acidic due to their citric acid content; however, once metabolized, this citric acid is converted into bicarbonate and water. Thus, lemons and limes are alkalizing, despite the fact that they taste acidic. On the other hand, cranberries (containing hippuric acid) and rhubarb (containing oxalic acid) also taste acidic — and they remain acidic after being metabolized because both hippuric acid and oxalic acid, once broken down, contribute free hydrogen into the system and are thus acid-forming.
Myth #3: You should avoid all acid-forming foods.
Developing an alkaline diet does not mean that your diet will be devoid of all acid-forming foods. The key issue is balance. Both alkaline-forming foods and acid-forming foods are necessary for good health. While we might not need some acid-forming foods, like refined sugars or processed grains, we certainly need adequate protein, and all proteins are acid-forming, whether from plant or animal sources. As well, certain nuts (such as Brazil nuts or pecans) are acid-forming, yet they are nutritious foods. And, while most vegetables alkalize, some are acid-forming, such as chard or peas—yet these foods are also nutritious.
The most important factor in the alkaline diet is balance. In healthy individuals, a diet of 65% (by weight) alkaline-forming foods and 35% acid-forming works well. As an example, if you were to have an 8-ounce steak for dinner, you’d need to eat about 23 ounces of alkaline-forming foods during the day to maintain the 65-35 ratio. In those with health challenges, an 80-20 ratio of alkaline-forming to acid-forming foods is suggested, simply because it reduces the amount of effort your body needs to put into reducing its acid load. (This translates to 40 ounces of alkaline-forming foods as compensation for your 8-ounce steak — or you could simply cut your steak back to 4 ounces instead.)
Myth #4: Urine pH doesn’t change throughout the day.
Although blood pH must stay stable in a narrow range of 7.35–7.45 for survival, the same is not true for the pH of other fluids such as urine and saliva, as these will vary throughout the day. The pH of the urine goes up and down according to the foods we eat, exercise, stress, and other variables. The kidney is the primary organ responsible for buffering and excreting metabolic acids, but the kidney cannot excrete urine that is more acidic than a pH of 4.5, as urine this acid would burn the delicate tissues of the kidney. Interestingly, if you eat a highly acid-forming meal, your urine will often show an alkaline pH a few hours later. You may think this is an indication of good systemic pH balance; however, this is the effect of the pancreas producing high amounts of alkalizing digestive compounds in response to the acid-forming foods ingested.
If you are interested in measuring acid load through a urine pH reading, the most accurate measure is with the first-morning urine after 6 hours of sleep. If you cannot go six hours without getting up to urinate, just measure your first-morning urine when you get up for the day, but do not eat or work when you get up to urinate in the night.
Myth #5: Meat, fish, and poultry are acid forming and thus not good for you.
All protein is acid forming, whether it’s from fish, beef, turkey, or any other animal food, or even from beans. However, protein consumption is essential for human life. In the United States, the recommended daily protein intake for adult females is 46 g/day and 56 g/day for adult males. In fact, protein is only acid forming when taken in higher amounts than about 50-60 g per day.
If you habitually consume a diet that is higher than 60 grams of protein a day, be sure to consume enough alkalizing foods to compensate for this additional acid load. Test the pH of your first-morning urine to assess your acid load and adjust your intake of alkalizing foods and alkalizing mineral supplements as necessary.
Proper pH levels vary throughout your body. Saliva ranges between 6.2 to 7.6, while urine is normally more acid, especially in the morning due to the metabolic process of preparing for elimination. Health hint: when using pH strips to test your urine ignore the first morning pee reading—start with your next bathroom visit.
As far as normal vaginal pH is concerned, you want between 3.8 and 4.5 (anything higher, you’re more at risk for getting vaginal infections).
By far the most important measurement is blood pH, and it has a very narrow range. An understanding of how to keep your blood in an alkaline range is important for maintaining good health. Your body doesn’t just “find” the balance it works extremely hard to create it. When you make poor lifestyle choices or are burdened by a toxic environment, your body has to work harder to create a peaceful homeostasis.
For good health, ideal blood pH levels need to be slightly alkaline (between 7.365 and 7.45). Sounds simple right? But not quite. That’s because the pH scale is logarithmic, meaning the difference between each whole number is equal to ten not so. Therefore a pH of six is ten times more acidic than a pH of seven. So it takes ten times the amount of alkalinity to neutralize an acid. For example, a jump from 7 to 6, for example, would take ten times the amount of alkalinity to neutralize. 7 to 5 = 100 times. 7 to 4 = 1000 times. 7 to 3 = 10,000 times.
Our bodies actually do a great job of keeping our blood pH exactly where it needs to be. Foods likely don’t have a significant influence on pH levels. But more alkaline foods like leafy greens, sprouts, avocados, and other powerhouse plant foods provide our bodies with essential vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. The acidic side of the pH scale also includes healthful foods like tomatoes, whole grains, and beans. Foods that are often considered less health promoting like animal products and refined carbs also fall on the acidic side of the scale, and should be eaten in moderation.
Your body does go through a complicated process to make sure your blood pH stays balanced. All you have to do is eat a balanced, plant based diet to support your body’s natural processes!
Does the alkaline diet work?
No research has shown that the alkaline diet can raise blood pH.
However, some research suggests that an alkaline diet may improve health, though not in the way that its supporters claim. Alkaline diets reduce a person’s consumption of fatty and processed meats, and they encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables. This offers several health benefits.
Here are some of the benefits that alkaline diet supporters may claim, and the scientific research either supporting or refuting them:
Promoting weight loss
Many strategies can help people lose weight.
Ultimately, weight loss depends on consuming fewer calories than one burns. Diets lower in fat and calories may promote weight loss, but only when a person remains physically active and eats a healthful diet with variety.
An alkaline diet tends to be low in calories, so it may help people lose weight.
Improving kidney health
Raising urine pH may improve health for some people.
According to a 2017 study, the typical diet of people in the United States is very acidic. This can challenge the kidneys. For people with kidney disease, a lower-acid diet may improve symptoms or even slow the course of the disease.
For most people with chronic kidney disease, there is no need to follow a specific alkaline diet. Instead, simply reducing protein, such as milk, meat, and cheese, may help.
Some proponents of this diet claim that it can reverse cancer or support chemotherapy. There is no scientific evidence supporting these claims, and no studies have performed direct tests on this claim.
However, significant evidence from a 2010 study suggests that reducing meat consumption and eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains might prevent cancer.
The study looked at data from the 2010 European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. It found that consuming vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, and a Mediterranean-style diet might reduce cancer risk.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommend a diet similar, but not identical, to an alkaline diet. The ACS advise avoiding processed foods, soft drinks, and many high-fat foods. Instead, it is more beneficial to eat a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.
Treating or preventing heart disease
In the U.S., heart disease is the leading cause of death. Lifestyle factors including poor nutrition and low activity levels are major contributors.
An alkaline diet may naturally raise levels of growth hormone, but the research is preliminary and inconclusive. Research finds that growth hormone supports body composition and lowers heart disease risk factors.
Alkaline diets also tend to be low in fat and calories, naturally promoting a healthy body weight and lowering heart disease risk factors. They also reduce or eliminate red and processed meats, removing a major contributor to heart disease from the diet.
Improving growth hormone levels
Better heart health is just one potential benefit of having higher growth hormone levels. Improving growth hormone levels may also promote better brain functioning, particularly memory and cognition.
Some evidence suggests that growth hormone improves overall quality of life.
However, the evidence linking an alkaline diet to increases in growth hormone levels is weak. Some studies have shown that correcting a highly acidic environment with specific supplements such as bicarbonate can promote alkalinity, but this does not necessarily mean that an alkaline diet has similar benefits.
Improving back pain
A small amount of research suggests that supplementing the diet with alkaline minerals might help with symptoms of back pain.
This research does not directly test the benefits of an alkaline diet, so it is uncertain whether alkaline foods might help with chronic pain.
Osteoporosis is a major risk factor for bone fractures, especially in older people and females. Some proponents of this diet say that it reduces the amount of calcium lost in urine, and that this lowers osteoporosis risk. However, no scientific evidence supports this claim.
That said, eating more fruits and vegetables may improve bone health. Alkaline diets are rich in these foods. They also tend to be low in protein, which supports bone and muscle health.
It is unlikely, therefore, that an alkaline diet can prevent osteoporosis. Extremely low-protein alkaline diets may also be an osteoporosis risk factor. A better strategy is to eat more lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables.
Promoting healthy muscles
People tend to lose muscle mass as they age.
This increases a person’s risk of falls and fractures, and it may also contribute to weakness and chronic pain. A 2013 study offers preliminary evidence that an alkaline diet may improve muscle health.
Researchers examined 2,689 females in a long-term twin study. They found a small but significant increase in muscle mass among females following a more alkaline diet.
The Pancreas Center
By Sabrina Toledano, RD, CSO, CDN
As a digestive disease dietitian, I have been getting a lot of questions surrounding the alkaline diet. Google alone provides over three million results on this topic! The problem is, almost everything you read and hear has zero scientific evidence. People think that an array of digestive diseases, including cancer and reflux, can be prevented or cured if the body is made more alkaline. So, it is time to set the record straight and separate fact from fiction.
The process of eating
When we eat, food goes through our gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which is actually considered to be outside the body. Our gut breaks down the food with the help of other organs that secrete digestive enzymes. By the time the digested food enters the blood through the walls of the GI tract, the acid or alkaline content of the original food does not matter. The pH of our blood is tightly regulated (by our own body) and maintained at 7.35 – 7.45, a slightly alkaline environment. Excess acid or base is released in the urine to help the body maintain a proper pH balance. Changes in the urine pH are therefore completely normal and have no connection with the pH of the blood.
Focus on the quality of your diet. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends consuming a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. They also recommend limiting consumption of red meat, and avoiding processed meat. Make sure you are getting an adequate amount of protein in your diet from healthy sources including lean poultry, fish, and legumes. As always, dietary recommendations can vary, so make sure you talk to a registered dietitian for individualized questions or concerns.
Here is a delicious vegetarian recipe that I love and a great treat for the New Year!
Brussels Sprout Slaw with Cranberries and Walnuts
*Recipe adapted from American Institute for Cancer Research
- ¾ lb Brussels sprouts
- 1 apple (choose your favorite!) peeled, cored, and chopped
- ⅔ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground pepper
- ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- Wash and trim the bottom of the sprouts. Shred the Brussels sprouts in food processor. Transfer shredded sprouts to mixing bowl.
- Add apple, cranberries, walnuts, salt, pepper and lemon juice to the bowl. Stir for 1 minute. Add oil and continue to stir well. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours to overnight.
Best if served within 24 hours. Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition information per ½ cup: 120 calories, 7 grams fat, 16 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 3 grams fiber, and 130 milligrams sodium
*To add extra calories, add ½ cup chopped almonds, 1 avocado (chopped), and/or another tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
In the case of the alkaline diet, not only is there no data to support it as a healthy way to lose weight, she says, but it’s just one more in a long list of fad diets destined to leave people feeling frustrated and as though they’ve failed.
What is the alkaline diet?
The alkaline diet first surfaced in the early 2000s when Robert Young (a wellness guru who was sent to jail in 2017 for practising medicine without a license and has faced several lawsuits from former cancer patients who he “treated”) published a series of books, including The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health. Despite the fact Young has been soundly discredited, the idea that the body is too acidic and can be fixed with alkaline foods caught on fast—and stuck.
Andrea D’Ambrosio gets asked about the alkaline diet all the time. “Like any fad diet, people are always intrigued by the promise of fast and easy weight loss,”says the registered dietitian and owner of Dietetic Directions in Kitchener, Ont. “The alkaline diet also grabs people’s attention with celebrity endorsements.” (Kate Hudson, Elle Macpherson, Victoria Beckham and, of course, Gwyneth Paltrow, have all raved about it.)
The alkaline diet is based on the premise that so-called “acid-producing” foods such as meat, fish, dairy products, sugar, caffeine and grains make the body too acidic, which can lead to weight gain, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. “The theory is that by cutting out ‘acidic’ foods and increasing the intake of ‘alkaline’ (or basic) foods like fruits and vegetables, you can restore the body’s equilibrium and improve energy and weight loss, as well as prevent chronic diseases,” D’Ambrosio says. But, none of this is borne out of scientific study.
How can whole grains and milk be considered acidic?
Proponents claim that when certain foods (meat, grains, diary, etc.) are broken down, they produce a metabolic waste or “ash” that can be either alkaline or acidic. Acidic ash (caused by so-called acidic foods) make your blood acidic and more vulnerable to disease. But it bears repeating that this is made-up pseudoscience.
Is your body too acidic?
Your body is constantly working to maintain a normal pH (a measurement of how acid or alkaline something is) of between 7.35 and 7.45 in the blood, which is slightly alkaline, Zentner says. “You need that balance to function—pH is to the body what temperature is to the planet.”
The two organs responsible for maintaining that delicate balance between alkalinity and acidity are the kidneys (by retaining or excreting hydrogen and bicarbonate, depending on what our body needs) and the lungs (by getting rid of carbon dioxide). “If you think back to high school chemistry, the more hydrogens in something, the more acidic it is, the more bicarbonate, the more basic,” Zentner says.
But can what we eat alter the pH levels in our bodies? Not in our blood or in our cells, where it matters, D’Ambrosio says. “The fact that certain foods might change the pH of your urine slightly isn’t a reliable indicator for health outcomes, it’s a sign that your kidneys are efficiently excreting waste to maintain your body’s equilibrium.”
What about alkaline water?
Some parts of the body have a different pH, like the stomach, which has a pH of 2. “Stomach acid could burn a hole through a table,” Zentner says. Which means that, when it comes to eating more alkaline foods or chugging alkaline water, you’re just wasting your time—and your money. “Alkaline water might be alkaline in the bottle, but it’s not going to be alkaline once it hits your stomach.”
Zentner also questions why anyone would want to make it harder for their body to do its job. “It’s not possible to change the pH of your body with food and even if you could, it certainly wouldn’t be healthy.” In fact, alkalosis—when your body is too alkaline—is actually a condition that can cause nausea, vomiting, light-headedness, confusion and muscle spasms. There are two types: respiratory alkalosis (which can occur when there is too little carbon dioxide in the blood due to things like hyperventilation or being at a high altitude) and metabolic alkalosis (which can occur when the body loses too much acid due to poor kidney function).
Is there anything good about the alkaline diet?
Medically speaking, the alkaline diet is unlikely to do you any serious physical harm, Zentner says. “However, it takes an emotional toll when it doesn’t work.”
D’Ambrosio adds that strict adherence to the alkaline diet could lead to a lack of essential vitamins, minerals and fibre. “Completely avoiding so many otherwise healthy foods (fish, eggs, meat, dairy, whole grains) means you may not be receiving balanced nutrition,” she says. “Plus, the idea of severely restricting a diet based on unreliable science is troublesome.”
Still, she adds that the one good thing about the alkaline diet is that it encourages people to eat fewer processed foods and more fruits and veggies. “The typical ‘Western diet’ tends to be high in processed foods and meats and low in fruit and vegetables,” she says. “And increasing fruit and vegetable consumption helps boost potassium and magnesium intake, which can protect you from high blood pressure and stroke.” While eating an alkaline diet itself isn’t going to help you maintain a healthy weight or protect you from disease, eating a balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables just might. In fact, the healthiest way to approach your diet is to think about what nutritious foods you can add, not what “forbidden” foods you have to give up.
What Dr. Melinda Ratini Says:
Does It Work?
Maybe, but not for the reasons it claims.
First, a little chemistry: A pH level measures how acid or alkaline something is. A pH of 0 is totally acidic, while a pH of 14 is completely alkaline. A pH of 7 is neutral. Those levels vary throughout your body. Your blood is slightly alkaline, with a pH between 7.35 and 7.45. Your stomach is very acidic, with a pH of 3.5 or below, so it can break down food. And your urine changes, depending on what you eat — that’s how your body keeps the level in your blood steady.
The alkaline diet claims to help your body maintain its blood pH level. In fact, nothing you eat is going to substantially change the pH of your blood. Your body works to keep that level constant.
But the foods you’re supposed to eat on the alkaline diet are good for you and will support a healthy weight loss: lots of fruits and vegetables, and lots of water. Avoiding sugar, alcohol, and processed foods is healthy weight-loss advice, too.
As to the other health claims, there’s some early evidence that a diet low in acid-producing foods like animal protein (such as meat and cheese) and bread and high in fruits and veggies could help prevent kidney stones, keep bones and muscles strong, improve heart health and brain function, reduce low back pain, and lower risk for type 2 diabetes. But researchers aren’t sure of some of these claims yet.
People who believe in the alkaline diet say that though acid-producing foods shift our pH balance for only a little while, if you keep shifting your blood pH over and over, you can cause long-lasting acidity.
Is It Good for Certain Conditions?’
Following an alkaline diet means choosing fruits and vegetables over higher-calorie, higher-fat choices. You will also shun prepared foods, which often have a lot of sodium.
That’s great news for heart health because these steps help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, which are big risk factors for heart disease.
Getting to a healthy weight is also important in preventing and treating diabetes and osteoarthritis.
Some studies have found that an alkaline environment may make certain chemotherapy drugs more effective or less toxic. But it has not been shown that an alkaline diet can do this or help prevent cancer. If you have cancer, talk to your doctor or dietitian about your nutritional needs before starting any type of diet.
The Final Word
The emphasis on fruits and vegetables that is at the core of alkaline diets offers the promise of healthy weight loss. No special gear or supplements are required.
You’ll have the best success with it if you like to choose and experiment with new foods and love to cook.
But following an alkaline diet will be tough for many people.
A lot of favorite foods that are allowed in moderation in other plans (including lean meat, low-fat dairy, bread, and sweets) are forbidden here. Protein is limited to plant-based sources such as beans and tofu. This means you will have to make sure you get enough protein and calcium.
Eating out also can be a challenge. If you travel a lot for work or have a busy schedule, you might feel bogged down by all the food selection and prep.
Finally, many alkaline diets fail to address a major factor in weight loss and wellness success: exercise. You should include fitness in any healthy eating plan that you choose. The American Heart Association and the CDC recommend getting at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. If you have any medical problems or are out of shape, talk to your doctor first.
Alkaline Versus Acidic Foods: What’s the Difference?
According to the alkaline diet, you can lose weight, have more energy, and ward off disease—all by simply eating the “right” foods based on their level of acidity. This pH-based based eating plan focuses on cutting out acidic foods, such as alcohol, caffeine, and sugar. In turn, the goal is to increase intake of things like vegetables, nuts, and green juices. We spoke to a few experts to help us debunk the hype around alkaline versus acidic foods, so you can learn how it might affect your body for better or worse.
What does pH balance actually refer to?
“pH is short for the potential of hydrogen, a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of our body’s fluids and tissues,” explains London-based nutritional therapist Melissa Pierson of Roots & Shoots Nutrition. “It is measured on a scale from zero to 14. The more acidic a solution is, the lower its pH. The more alkaline, the higher the number is. Optimally, we want a pH of 7.365, slightly alkaline. This number will fluctuate throughout the day, but the normal range is between 6 and 7.5.”
What does this have to do with my body?
“Different compartments in the body have different pHs that allow various physiologic functions to take place optimally,” states Dr. Michael Wald, a dietician board-certified in nutrition. “The lower the pH, the more acidic the system; the higher the pH, the more alkaline the system. Seven is neutral, and water is the standard with a pH of seven. The pH of the venous and arterial blood is very close, ranging between 7.35 to 7.45.”
However, acidity technically impacts bodily fluid in different ways, and the pH level can vary when it comes to urine and saliva. Dr. Ward says your stomach, due to gastric juice content, has a pH range of 1.5 to 3.5. Your small intestine is around 7.0 to 8.5, and urine anywhere from 4.5 to 8.0. Blood, on the other hand, generally stays around a level of 7.4. That indicates normal body function.
Pierson says any imbalance in pH can be symptomatic of other health factors, which is why nudging the body toward an alkaline state has become one attractive approach. These potentially include reduced absorption of vitamins and minerals, a weakened immune system, asthma and allergies, joint and muscle pain, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease.
A great way to boost your health is with daily exercise—and, with workouts as short as 10 minutes long, Aaptiv can help.
How do you know if a food is considered alkaline or acidic?
Dr. Wald recommends asking yourself a quick set of questions if you’re concerned about the acidity level of certain foods:
- Is it fresh?
- What is the mineral content?
- Is it a vegetable?
- Does it have a high water content?
- Is it green?
“Less processed foods tend to be more alkaline forming—they have all their nutrients still intact and have not been made acidic through processing,” he says. “Alkaline foods contain a lot of alkaline minerals. Look for calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium bicarbonate, manganese, and iron. Almost all vegetables, green, and high-water content foods are alkaline-forming. Sugar is highly acid-forming, especially processed and refined.”
“Most fruits, nuts, legumes, and vegetables tend to be alkaline, so increasing your consumption of these will help balance your pH and reduce any inflammation you may have,” says Pierson.
Along with eating a balanced diet, maintain your health with a daily fitness routine. Aaptiv has countless workouts across multiple categories and a scheduling feature to help you plan out your day.
Dr. Wald also suggests checking the sugar content for everything you eat. Since sugar is “high-acid forming, especially processed and refined,” he notes, it’s no surprise that’s one of the main ingredients to avoid. Pierson additionally advises people to avoid items like cold cuts, conventional meats, milk, pasta, and white bread for this same reason.
Of course, not every acidic food is bad for you (i.e. fruit!). Eating a well-balanced diet is key to solid nutrition and a smoothly running digestive system. Choosing an acidic or alkaline food won’t necessarily “change” your body.
Is finding a pH “balance” all hype—or good for your health?
Even though an alkaline diet is seemingly anti-acid, some food-related acids are actually pretty essential to health, like amino acids and fatty acids. The success of eating alkaline is two-fold. It’s healthy due to the emphasis on real, unprocessed foods, and those foods are already full of vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. And that latter fact has nothing to do with pH levels.
This is where proponents of eating alkaline emphasize prevention. They claim an alkaline diet can protect people against chronic conditions like osteoporosis, even though there’s between bone density and dietary acid. On the contrary, studies say high-protein foods, which are acid-forming, are linked to healthier bones.
Dr. Wald puts it this way: if your goal is to increase pH, it’s probably due to an already existing condition related to abnormal kidney function or compromised respiratory systems. Those issues are actually related to keeping the pH level of your blood in a safe zone, which isn’t impacted by diet.
Still, Pierson correctly calls out a byproduct of modern reality: the fact that many of us are subject many elements that push toward an acidic environment. Think a sedentary lifestyle, excess hormones and chemicals in food, exposure to chemicals and pollution, and an abundance of processed foods and animal fat consumption. So if an alkaline diet guides people toward fruits, vegetables, and less acidic proteins or fats then it certainly does no harm.
“My advice would be to lower your intake of highly acid-forming and processed foods, stock up on green vegetables, fruits, and legumes, drink plenty of water, and reduce your stress levels or practice stress management techniques,” says Pierson. “All of these combined will help you to reach an optimal pH balance.”
Good health comes from both a nutritious diet and an exercise plan. Now that you know how to eat well, learn how to make exercise a habit with Aaptiv.
What Is The Alkaline Plant-Based Diet and Should You Try It?
Fad diets – they come and go. Every few weeks, it seems that there’s another ‘eating trend’ everyone out there is following. While some work well, others are a not backed up by scientific research. That’s why it’s highly important that you read-up on each diet before you choose to give it a whirl. You may have already heard about the alkaline plant-based diet, but how much do you really know about it? Here are the facts.
The Alkaline Plant-Based Diet
First of all, let’s take a moment to go over the basics here. What is the alkaline plant-based diet? This is one of the latest diet trends and is based on the idea that you can change the pH value* of your blood and body by eating certain foods. Certain experts believe that in doing so people can improve their health and metabolism. Interesting stuff.
Foods such as meat, eggs, grains and alcohol are naturally acidic, according to recent research. However, certain plant-based foods, such as legumes, fresh vegetables and nuts are alkaline. With that in mind, the alkaline plant-based diet is all about focussing your attention on these food groups in a bid to boost your overall wellness.
* Science fact: The pH value means how acidic or alkaline something is!
What Are Alkaline Plant-Based Diet Foods?
While you already know that things like meat and alcohol are acidic, you may be stumped when it comes to alkaline plant-based foods. There are loads of all-too-familiar ingredients that pop up on this particular list. Before you rush out to buy an alkaline plant-based diet book, let’s take a look at the main food staples you need to know.
> Root Vegetables
We’re talking everything from parsnips to sweet potatoes! Root vegetables are usually alkaline, which means that you should include them when you’re following this particular diet. When it comes to ingredients like these, you need to opt for the ones that are ‘in season’. Throughout the year, different types of root vegetables will be locally available.
Looking for a super satisfying snack? You can’t go far with some nuts. Whether you’re a fan of cashews or pistachios, you can fill your boots and eat away. One way in which you could enjoy these bites is to have some whole foods nut butter. You can either make your own or opt for a store-bought jar of the good stuff.
> Leafy Greens
You may already know that leafy greens are great for your health, but did you know that they are alkaline too? Adding some spinach, kale, or even lettuce to your meals might not be such a bad idea after all. These salads make ideal sides and taste ultra fresh. Nice.
> Other Vegetables
Other notable alkaline vegetables include cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. If you’re not a lover of all things green, you might want to change your ways. Learning new and interesting ways in which to cook these ingredients is a fantastic place to start. With a little love and extra attention, you can turn these types of alkaline plant-based food into something tasty.
Should You Try This Diet?
Now that we’ve covered the basic idea and an overview of the diet, let’s talk about whether this diet actually does what it says on the tin. Well, the short answer is no. Research suggests that changing what you eat can change the pH level of your urine. Despite this, there is no current evidence that it changes your blood pH values at all.
While following the alkaline plant-based diet is unlikely to do you any harm, there’s nothing to suggest that it will improve your metabolism. However, on the bright side, many of the foods that show up on the list here are healthy and nutritious. Focussing on these groups and eating more plant-based options is a smart move for your health.
Of course, whether you try the alkaline plant-based diet for yourself is entirely up to you. You need to figure out a solid nutrition plan that works for you on a day-to-day basis. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that the evidence here is sparse, to say the least. If you’re looking for a way in which to improve your health, following a regular plant-based diet and exercising regularly is a nifty way to get the right results.
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Is your diet too acidic?
The alkaline diet has quite the cult following among celebrities. It touts a multitude of claims ranging from weight loss to reducing osteoporosis and preventing cancer. With claims like these, it’s no surprise the alkaline diet has been popping up in headlines for decades. But does it work? Registered dietitian Jessica Bippen, MS, RD sheds light on the health benefits of this buzzy pH diet.
The alkaline diet, aka the alkaline-ash diet or acid-alkaline diet, is based on the concept of manipulating your body’s pH based on the food you eat. The idea behind this eating pattern suggests that when we metabolize food, we leave an “ash” that is either alkaline or acidic. The foods that promote an acid pH in the body require your body to work harder to rebalance its tightly regulated, slightly alkaline pH. When we constantly eat acid-forming foods, it takes a toll on this buffering system. They make the body more susceptible to weight gain and diseases like osteoporosis and cancer.
While the lists of alkaline foods differ slightly depending on the resource, the majority of food groups can be classified as either alkaline or acidic. The lists aren’t as straightforward as you might think. The foods are classified according to if they’re acid-forming or alkaline-forming in the body, not by how they taste. For instance, a lemon is very acidic but in the body it’s alkaline-forming. Kind of confusing, right?
Here’s a general breakdown of the acid- and alkaline-forming foods:
But what does science say?
In order to understand the diet, we need to take a closer look at the pH scale.
In case you were sleeping during high school chemistry (or just need a little refresher), every substance has a pH that falls on a scale from 0 to 14. The closer the pH is to 0, the more acidic it is. The closer the pH is to 14, the more alkaline it is, with 7 being neutral.
Normal, healthy blood pH ranges between 7.35 and 7.45. The body does a fabulous job of keeping it tightly regulated though several body processes such as respiration and urination. The food we eat (thankfully!) doesn’t alter the blood pH. Blood pH outside of its tightly regulated range results in critical illness. So, any claim that the alkaline diet alters your blood pH is just not true.
With that being said, the food we eat can alter the pH of our urine. The kidneys eliminate any excess acid in the urine. But this is actually the way the body ensures that the blood stays within the necessary pH range. The fact is that urine pH is a very poor indicator of the body’s pH and your health since many factors other than diet influence it.
Can an alkaline diet result in cancer prevention, weight loss, and other benefits?
One of the most well-known claims of the alkaline diet is that it prevents or stops the growth of cancer. However, there’s no substantial evidence to support this. The theory is based on studies that suggest cancer survives in an acidic environment. While these findings are accurate, newer studies suggest that the cancer cells form their own acidic environment, which isn’t affected by the food we eat.
The claim that acid-forming foods lead to osteoporosis doesn’t have substantial evidence to support it. Clinical trials show no relationship between acid-forming diets and calcium in the body. Studies even show that a protein-rich diet—which is considered acidic—is beneficial for bone health.
While no substantial evidence supports the claims of the alkaline diet, there are possible benefits of this diet unrelated to pH. The alkaline diet focuses on plant-based foods. It’s naturally low in sodium and high in vitamins and minerals. Numerous studies show the benefits of fruit and vegetable intake aiding in weight loss and decreasing disease risk due to their nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants.
Do you need to eat alkaline?
At its core, the alkaline diet is centered on fruits and vegetables, which are key components of a healthy, well-balanced diet. Rather than focusing on a list of restricted foods and worrying about the pH of your body, focus on eating more plant-based foods and make vegetables the majority of your plate. For easy reference, make 50-75% of your plate leafy greens and veggies, 25% protein, and 25% complex carbohydrates. Add a healthy fat like avocado, coconut oil, or hemp seeds for better absorption of nutrients and healthy hair, skin, and nails. This simple formula makes it easy to ensure you’re getting a balanced meal full of nutrients.
Bottom line: Enjoy a balanced, veggie-heavy diet. There’s no need to go to extremes of trying to alter your body chemistry.
But First, What Is An Alkaline Diet, Anyway?
Before we get into my little experiment, you should understand what the alkaline diet is and what it claims to do.
The idea behind the alkaline diet, also known as the alkaline acid diet or alkaline ash diet, is that your food can affect pH levels in the body. Your pH level, in turn, affects your overall health and well-being.
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When you eat something and digest it, your body doesn’t absorb everything. You produce what is called “metabolic waste”, or as proponents of the alkaline diet plan call it, “ash”. If you eat high acid foods, the ash will be acidic. If you eat high alkaline foods, the ash will be alkaline.
Scientists do agree that it’s important to maintain the relatively alkaline pH of our blood, at 7.365-7.4. The acid-ash diet theory believes that you can better manage your blood pH levels through an alkaline diet.
Furthermore, there are supposedly lots other benefits of having an alkaline body. The diet claims to help you shed some pounds, improve energy levels, and prevent diseases like arthritis, osteoporosis, and diabetes. It also recommends alkaline foods for their cancer-busting properties.
The Alkaline Food Chart
The alkaline diet divides food into three categories: acidic, neutral, and alkaline. Acidic foods include red meat, chicken, fish, chocolate, wheat, and alcohol. Neutral foods include natural fats like butter, most oils, milk, and cream. Alkaline foods include most fruits and veggies.
It’s not always intuitive. Is vinegar acidic or alkaline? Acidic. Is lemon acidic or alkaline? Surprisingly, alkaline. You can check out alkaline food lists like the one below for guidance.
Hesitations, Hesitations, Hesitations
Starting out, I was worried a little. I’ve never had an easy time sticking to diets, especially super-restrictive ones that discourage pretty much all of my favourite things. I love a good steak and I snack pretty frequently throughout the day. I’m also pretty partial to the occasional glass of wine.
The alkaline diet also forbids coffee, which I imagine would be difficult for people who need caffeine to jump start their day. Thankfully, I’m not a big coffee person, but I do drink tea every morning. And yep, that’s out of the question too.
While following the alkaline diet was my #1 concern, I was also worried about getting all of the nutrients I needed. I know that protein is an important part of any diet, and I wasn’t 100% confident I could cut it with just tofu and beans.
The Challenge: One Month On The Alkaline Diet
Armed with all of this info, I felt like I was finally ready to take on the challenge. But before I started, I had to make sure I knew what my goals were so I could measure for it at the end of the month.
And why do most people go on diets if not to lose a little bit of weight? I had a few extra pounds I could afford to lose, and a lot of people do choose the alkaline diet for its weight loss benefits. I couldn’t possibly measure for its alleged long-term effects like preventing cancer, but I was curious to see if I would at least feel happier or healthier.
My Usual Diet
As I said, I’m a meat eater. My meals usually consist of meat (chicken, beef, or pork mostly), a starch (rice, bread, potatoes), and a small serving of veggies. I’m a notorious snacker, and I nibble on bits of cheese pretty often. I also have a few glasses of wine or beer a week and a cup of tea every morning.
So, it’s obviously going to be quite difficult to switch!
My Experience With The Alkaline Diet
The highly-anticipated (dreaded?) day has come. I started out the week pretty strong, with chia seeds, coconut milk, and sliced alkaline fruits for breakfast. Lunch was variations of salad or lettuce wraps. For dinner, I’d stir-fry some veggies, beans, and tofu – all high-alkaline foods, according to my research.
The first week was tough. I’ll admit I still felt like I wasn’t eating enough, and I was always super hungry by the end of the day. I usually work out two or three times a week with some mild cardio and weight lifting, but I didn’t go because I was scared I was too weak for it.
My friend – the genius that he is – recommended that I supplement the diet with a protein-packed green smoothie. This way, I could still get my energy, feel full, and stick to the diet. My go-to was blueberries, bananas, spinach, almond milk, coconut oil, and a scoop of organic plant-based protein powder.
As for food, I’ve gotten pretty used to the quinoa-chia seeds-salad trifecta of alkaline diets. I’ve also eaten more avocados in the last two weeks than I have in my entire life.
I’ve settled into the diet at this point. I haven’t checked the scales yet because I’m saving that for the end of the challenge, but I do feel lighter and leaner. I’ve also started going back to the gym, although I’m still not lifting or running as much as I used to.
In the spirit of honesty, I cheated a little bit. A close friend came over for dinner one night and wasn’t aware of this experiment, so guess what he brought over? Wagyu steak and wine.
At first, I felt a little guilty that I broke my two-week streak. Then I justified it to myself as a one-time cheat day. But I felt less bad when I saw this article that said you can still have some acid-forming foods, as long as you keep it to less than 20% of your total consumption.
The final stretch! I was a little more experimental in the last week of my alkaline diet. I had quinoa burrito bowls with beans, corn, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and a squeeze of lime. I kicked dinner up a notch with spelt (not wheat!) pasta, tomatoes, and homemade pesto. I treated myself to as many power smoothies as I wanted.
The Results: Does The Alkaline Diet Work?
Well, I can’t say what the alkaline diet does for cancer or other diseases, but I can say that I slimmed down quite a bit. In a month, I lost about 3kg, or slightly less than a kilogram a week.
My energy levels dipped a bit in the first week, especially since I wasn’t getting as many calories as I did on my old diet. But after tweaking it a little bit and adding protein powder into the mix (literally), I had more energy to go through the day and even hit the gym.
But was it because of the alkaline diet or something else?
Scientists agree that the alkaline diet comes with many benefits, but not because of a more alkalised blood pH level. Compared to most people’s diets, the alkaline diet has more fruits, veggies, and just overall healthier food. There’s just no proof that your diet can affect your body’s pH, or that an alkaline diet is inherently better than any other healthy, low-sugar, nutrient-rich diet.
And what about the alkaline diet’s side effects? While it’s good to reduce your intake of red meat and processed foods, restricting entire food groups like dairy or grains can negatively impact your body. There’s also a huge risk of malnutrition, especially if you’re not taking supplements or getting important nutrients like protein elsewhere.
Most of all, the alkaline diet just isn’t sustainable. For me and for most others. Shopping for fruits, veg, and protein powder can get quite expensive. And eating the same things over and over again can get boring in the long run.
So am I going to continue on the alkaline diet? And do I recommend it? Well, yes and no. Here are the facts: the alkaline diet just isn’t based on any scientific evidence. Eating healthy is a huge part of being healthy, but you don’t need to go on the restrictive alkaline diet to reap the benefits.
If there’s something I can give the alkaline diet credit for is that it inspired me to incorporate more fruit and veg into my regular diet. Who knows, I might even do one or two vegetarian days a week! If making healthier choices was the goal, then I think the alkaline diet helped me achieve it.
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Alkaline Foods and Your Healthy Weight Loss
Alkaline foods can help keep your healthy body in balance. An acidic diet can lead to a variety of health problems including weight gain, poor circulation, heart problems along with fatigue, achy joints, memory loss, a lack of libido, constipation, bloating and respiratory problems. The typical Western diet includes foods that are highly acidic, which can cause these symptoms and hinder weight loss efforts. Read on to learn about which acidic foods to cut, and which alkaline foods you can add to your diet today to get back in balance.
Alkaline Foods and Your Diet
Having proper alkaline balance is important to overall health, effective weight loss, and a feeling of vitality but knowing which foods are acidic and which are alkaline can get confusing, so download this Acid & Alkaline Food Chart. It provides a printable food cheat sheet you can stick on the fridge, or pantry or even in your pocket when you go to the grocery store.
Understanding the benefits of a pH balanced diet can lead to increased energy, and weight loss. Not only that, but consuming foods that are healthy and non-acidic can be beneficial in other ways. Diets that contain high amounts of sugar and carbohydrates increase the acid levels in your body and thus throw off your pH balance. By maintaining a healthy pH you can also cut out these unhealthy foods and you may notice fewer headaches, reduced stress and anxiety, and a better mood.
Watch this short video to gain a better understanding of the importance of your body’s pH levels:
Am I Acidic?
There are a few signs that your body is an acidic environment and if you have uncomfortable pains in your joints, experience heartburn, have urinary tract problems, poor digestion, receding gums, kidney stones and/or skin problems you might benefit from checking your body’s pH levels. Get your test kit here, at the Skinny Ms Amazon Store!
Acidic Foods to Cut Out
Carbonated sodas, energy drinks
Coffee, sweetened fruit juice, beef, white bread, wheat, cranberries, distilled water
Wine, eggs, sour cream, some yogurts (those with live active cultures)
Alkaline Foods to Add
Watermelon, dandelion greens, orange juice, mineral water (1)(2)