The alkaline diet is among the many diets that claim to improve your health, help you lose weight, and even fight cancer. But are all these claims true about the alkaline diet? This and more are what we are going to learn in this article; including the foods to eat and that to avoid on the alkaline diet.
The essence of the alkaline diet is to replace acid-forming foods with alkaline foods which are believed to improve your health and help fight serious diseases such as cancer.
What is an alkaline diet?
Also known as the acid-alkaline or alkaline ash diet, the diet is based on the theory that your diet or foods you eat can alter the PH value of your body.
The PH value is the measurement of the degree of acidity or alkalinity of a substance on a scale of 0 to 14. Acidic substances range from 0 to 7 while alkaline substances fall between 7 and 14 on the scale. Naturally, our blood is slightly alkaline between 7.35 and 7.45 while our stomachs are highly acidic to help digest foods.
So how is does the food we eat affect PH levels?
During the conversion of food into energy (metabolism), chemical reactions, and the type of food you ate influence Ph levels.
Compare metabolism to burning things with fire, there is always a residue left after the burning which is ash. Similarly, when food is burned, a residue known as metabolic waste is left behind. The waste can be alkaline, neutral, or acidic. Claims from the alkaline diet state that metabolic waste can directly affect your body’s PH.
Simply, if you eat foods that leave acidic waste, it makes your blood more acidic and on the other hand, foods that leave alkaline waste will make your blood more alkaline.
A supposition or proposed explanation based on limited evidence states that acidic ash or waste is thought to make you vulnerable and more prone to illness and diseases whereas alkaline ash is considered protective.
Food components believed to leave acid waste include; dairy, eggs, meat, most grains, and processed foods, like canned and packaged snacks and convenience foods. In general, foods that fall under protein, phosphate, and sulfur.
Therefore, choosing more alkaline foods that leave alkaline waste should be able to ”alkalize” your body and improve your health.
Fruits and vegetables, soybeans, and tofu, and some nuts, seeds, and legumes are alkaline-promoting foods, meaning they are good to eat under the alkaline diet. In general, foods that contain calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
What do you eat on an alkaline diet?
Every diet has ‘eat this’ and ‘avoid that’. As we have seen above, alkaline promoting foods are encouraged and acidic promoting foods are on the restriction side.
Foods to eat on the alkaline diet.
Green leafy vegetables.
Most green leafy vegetables have an alkaline effect when eaten. They are also highly nutritious and recommended on most diets and doctors.
- Mustard greens.
- Beet greens.
Citrus fruits are also recommended while on an alkaline diet as they are some of the best alkaline foods. Contrary to the belief that these fruits are highly acidic and would have an acidic effect, they are in fact the opposite.
Citrus fruits have got a lot of health benefits and are highly nutritious with huge amounts of vitamin C. These fruits are also great at detoxifying the system and improve general body health.
The best citrus fruits on an alkaline diet are;
Root vegetables are great sources of alkali and are highly recommended on an alkaline diet. With a lot of health benefits and nutrients, including them in your diet will improve body health.
Examples of root vegetables to eat on an alkaline diet are;
- Sweet potato.
- Taro root.
- Lotus root.
Eating nuts can also help improve your alkalinity as they leave an alkaline residue after metabolism. They are also good sources of fats, monounsaturated fatty acids, and omega-3 fatty acids that can protect the heart.
Nuts are also high in fiber and can be used for weight loss; however, most nuts are high in calories and thus should be eaten in moderation for weight loss.
Examples of nuts for an alkaline diet.
- Sesame seeds.
- Pine nuts.
Spices are also great foods to include in your alkaline diet. They also have a lot of health benefits to the body and including them in your diet can improve your general body health.
Whether used in cooking, sprinkled on salads, made into a tea, or added into smoothies, spices will bring out that alkaline effect.
Some of the spices with great alkalinity effect are;
- Chili pepper.
Citrus fruits aren’t enough to complete the list of foods for an alkaline diet. Other fruits are also great and are recommended for an alkaline diet.
Fruits are very nutritious and are recommended by health experts, dieticians, and doctors. Even on the alkaline diet, these fruits come into the diet to supplement it and spice it up.
Fruits for alkaline diet include;
Acidic foods to avoid while on an alkaline diet.
As it is the case with every diet, these are the foods you should avoid while on the alkaline diet. These are acidic foods that can increase acidity in the body;
Some of the ‘unhealthy’ vegetables you should avoid while on the alkaline diet. Vegetables such as corn, lentils, olives, and winter squash can leave an acidic residue which increases acidity in the body.
Among the fruits to avoid while on the alkaline diet are blueberries, cranberries, currants, plums, canned, or glazed fruits.
You should avoid almond milk, black beans, chickpeas, green peas, kidney peas, pinto beans, red beans, rice milk, soy milk, and white beans. Their acidity levels are high that when most people eat them, they get acid reflux.
Butter, cheese, ice cream, ice milk, and other mil products can increase acidity in the body.
As seen above, acidity is associated with protein components, and animal products that have a lot of proteins are included on the restriction list. In the restriction list, you will find meat and fish such as bacon, beef, cod, canned beef, fish, haddock, lamb, lobster, oyster, pork, rabbit meat, sausage, sardines, shrimp, tuna, turkey, and others.
Fats and oils.
Some oils, fats, and products made with them can cause an increase in acidity and thus they should be avoided. Examples are avocado oil, butter, canola oil, flax oil, hemp seed oil, olive oil, sesame oil, and sunflower oil.
- Sweeteners such as carob, corn syrup, and sugar are also on the restriction list while on an alkaline diet.
- Beer, liquor, spirits, and wines also increase acidity levels in the body.
- Junk foods are among the most dreaded foods for a person on an alkaline diet. Junk foods may combine many restricted foods such as animal products, dairy, unhealthy oil, and sweeteners all of which aren’t friendly to the diet. It is therefore recommended to avoid those kinds of foods.
What you should know about the alkaline diet.
Your blood Ph levels should stay constant because if they were to change beyond normal, your cells would stop working causing death if they not treated quickly.
The body and immune system know that the PH levels are vital and thus have got different effective ways to regulate the PH balance. The process is known as Acid-base homeostasis.
In fact, food can’t possibly change the PH levels of blood in healthy people although tiny fluctuations may occur but still in the normal range.
Food can however change the PH value of urine as it is also one of the main ways the body uses to regulate blood PH.
Food is related to acidity in such a way that if you eat acidifying foods for example a steak of beef, your urine will be more acidic several hours later during the day as your body will remove the metabolic waste from the system through urine.
Therefore, urine is not a solid indicator of overall body PH.
What is the link between the alkaline diet and cancer?
Many people argue that cancer only develops in an acidic environment and can be treated or cured with an alkaline diet.
However, some studies contradict the relationship between acidity and growth of cancer. From a study by Pubmed, ” While there are no studies showing a direct link between diet-induced acidosis and cancer, acid-base disequilibrium has been shown to modulate molecular activity including adrenal glucocorticoid, insulin growth factor (IGF-1), and adipocyte cytokine signaling, dysregulated cellular metabolism, and osteoclast activation, which may serve as intermediary or downstream effectors of carcinogenesis or tumor promotion.”
To break it further, food doesn’t have a significant influence on blood PH and it is a fact that cancer cells aren’t restricted or encouraged by acidic environments.
In fact, cancer cells grow in normal body tissues and although tumors grow faster in acidic environments, they create the acidity themselves.
Is an alkaline diet good for you?
Generally, the alkaline diet enforces good and healthy eating. Recommending more vegetables, fruits, and cutting on sugar, alcohol, meat and processed foods makes the alkaline diet a healthy one and can help you lose weight.
The diet can also help reduce inflammation and as we all know; eating foods that reduce inflammation can help reduce your cancer risk.
However, the fact that the diet can reduce cancer risk stands on the chance of restricting junk foods that are linked to colorectal cancer and cancer of the upper digestive stomach and tract. The link between cancer and junk foods is greater and so when these foods are restricted, cancer is restricted.
Here is an article about the link between junk foods and cancer.
If you are considering starting the alkaline diet, it is important to talk to your doctor first. You should be aware that changes in your diet will not have an effect on Ph levels of your blood but rather that of your urine which is not much important though.
Although the diet will not have an impact on blood PH, it will improve overall health.
You can read an article about popular diets. The article will give you information about popular diets and their effect on weight loss.
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