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Improve Your Health Following the Alkaline Food Diet E-mail
Written by Jeff Behar, MS, MBA   

What is the Alkaline Diet?

An alkaline diet is a diet that emphasizes, to a varying degree, fresh fruit, vegetables, roots and tubers, nuts, and legumes. An alkaline diet is a diet that emphasizes preservation of health.

Many people believe that our modern day diet is the cause of a variety of health related conditions today that cause a variety of disease and conditions that many people suffer needlessly.  As a result many people are not feeling their best or needlessly take medications that cause additional problems for the body.

With the change over time from a diet consisting of minimally processed plant and animal foods to a diet consisting more and more of refined grains, sugars, including milk, cheese and other milk products, and salts the typical Western diet became more acid-producing. Over this same time consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables decreased, which further made the Western diet acid-producing. 

Your Body pH Affects EVERYTHING

 pH control impacts every biochemical process in the body. When pH balance is off and the blood becomes more acidic:

  • Microbes are affected. Microbes in your blood can, mutate, mirror pathogenicity, and grow.
  • Fatty acids are affected. Fatty acids which are normally negatively charged, take on a positive charge and instead of moving freely, become attracted to and begin to stick to the walls of the negatively charged artery walls. This state results in increased risk of diabetes
  • Enzyme function is affected. Enzymes that are created for specific functions are changed and therefore can no longer perform the required function well, if not at all. They not only can be ineffective, but they can also be destructive.
  • Oxygen delivery to cells suffers. More and more research is showing that low oxygen delivery to cells is a major factor in most if not all degenerative conditions.
  • Minerals assimilation can be affected.  Minerals are very important. In the absence of  minerals vitamins can't do their job. This can cause organs not to function properly and further contribute to a degenerative state to the body.  A good example is the effect of pH on the mineral iodine. When pH is too low and iodine is not properly assimilated it can negatively effect the thyroid. Malfunctioning thyroids have been connected to cancer, fatigue, depression, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, heart attacks, and more. Copper deficiency has been implicated in aneurysms (brain, aortic, etc.). Calcium and magnesium deficiency effects the bones. Current research also suggests that magnesium deficiency increase the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). The list goes on and on.
  • Insulin production can be affected. 

The Theory Behind the Alkaline Diet

The theory behind the alkaline diet is that our diet should reflect a pH level of between 7.35 and 7.45 and be slightly alkaline.

Proponents of alkaline diets believe that a diet high in acid-producing foods is disrupts this balance and promotes the loss of essential minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium, as the body tries to restore equilibrium. This imbalance is thought to make people prone to illness

According to some alternative practitioners, the shift to an acid-producing diet is the cause of a number of diseases and chronic conditions.

Acidosis Health Effects

To be to acidic in the body can have far reaching consequences. For example, if the blood becomes too acidic the body will balance the pH at all costs. This can lead to common symptoms which include but are not limited to:
  • Acceleration of free radical damage, possibly contributing to cancerous mutations and premature aging
  • Bladder and kidney conditions, including kidney stones
  • Bone loss, weak and brittle bones, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, bone spurs and other osteo related conditions (A recent seven-year study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, on 9,000 women showed that those who have chronic acidosis are at greater risk for bone loss than those who have normal pH levels. The scientists who carried out this experiment believe that many of the hip fractures prevalent among middle-aged women are connected to high acidity caused by a diet rich in animal foods and low in vegetables. This is because the body borrows calcium from the bones in order to balance pH. Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)
  • Brain fog
  • Cardiovascular damage, including the constriction of blood vessels and the reduction of oxygen
  • Chronic fatigue/low energy
  • Constipation
  • Diabetes
  • Frequent urination
  • Gastrointestinal disorderulcers
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly referred to as GERD or acid reflux
  • Heart burn
  • Hormone concerns
  • Indigestion
  • Immune deficiency
  • Irritable Bowel
  • Joint pain
  • Lactic acid buildup
  • Low energy and chronic fatigue
  • Metabolic acidosis
  • Mineral deficiencies
  • Muscle soreness
  • Obesity
  • Poor metabolism
  • Slow digestion and elimination
  • Yeast/fungal overgrowth
  • Weight gain/Difficulty losing weight

The idea is this: the more symptoms, the more acidic you may be, and the more urgent it is for you to begin an alkalizing program

Conventional Medicine vs. Natural Medicine 

Although conventional doctors do believe that increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables and reducing one's intake of meat, salt, and refined grains is beneficial to health, most conventional doctors do not believe that an acid-producing diet is the foundation of chronic illness. In conventional medicine, there is evidence, however, that alkaline diets may help prevent the formation of

  • Age related muscle wasting
  • Calcium kidney stones, and
  • Osteoporosis 

How to Determine If Your Body is not pH Balanced

 

When the body pH is out of balance it may respond with stomach upset and indigestion; confusion, anger, or irritability; food sensitivity and allergic reactions, recurrent infections; fatigue or depression, etc. Even external signs such as unexplained rash, acne, dark circles under eyes, cracked skin and nails, brittle hair, excess weight, etc. show that one's body is dealing with an imbalance. For example, the body produces fat to protect its vital organs from the damaging effects of acid. When one improves the diet with fresh, raw, alkaline foods, providing the nutrients essential to balance and strength, the body naturally repairs itself and comes into balance, achieving optimal weight on its own.

You can also test your pH levels to determine if your body's pH needs immediate attention. Blood tests and urine are an accurate way to test blood pH. Saliva test can also be done. Home pH test strips are available to determine your pH factor quickly and easily in the privacy of your own home.

Urine pH 

Urine testing may indicate how well your body is excreting acids and assimilating minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium. These minerals function as "buffers." Buffers are substances that help maintain and balance the body against the introduction of too much acidity or too much alkalinity.

Even with the proper amounts of buffers, acid or alkaline levels can become extreme. When the body ingests or produces too many of these acids or alkali's, it must excrete the excess. The urine is the perfect way for the body to remove any excess acids or alkaline substances that cannot be buffered.

Urinary pH should fluctuate between 6.0-6.4 in the morning and 6.4-7.0 in the evening.  If the average urine pH is below 6.5 the body's buffering system is overwhelmed, a state of "auto toxication" exists, and attention should be given to lowering acid levels.  

When you test your first urine of the morning, because this is urine that has been stored in your bladder during the night this first flow should optimally be between a pH 6.4 to 6.8. If your first urine pH is higher than 6.8 your alkaline buffers are sufficient to neutralize the acidic foods and drinks you ingested the day before.  If your first urine pH is lower than 6.4, however, you are deficient in alkaline buffers such as bicarbonate, sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. 

To get your body pH back in line you need to move away from acidic foods and drinks and begin ingesting liberal amounts of green leafy vegetables, low sugar fruits and healthy polyunsaturated fats. If you opt to instead test your urine later in the morning after a first pass, do it before eating any food.  Because this test will be after you have eliminated the stored urine which represents the acid load from the day before, the urine ph should be higher (above 7.2). If the pH is lower than 6.8 then you are in a state of latent tissue acidosis and you are deficient of alkaline buffers. 

Low ph does not necessarily mean ingestion of just sugary carbs and acid drinks; it could also mean be from a high protein diet that is not appropriately balanced with the proper fruits and vegetables that can provide appropriate alkaline buffers. Most meats when digested lower body ph through the production of nitric, sulfuric, phosphoric and uric acids.

Saliva pH   

While the saliva also utilizes buffers just like the urine, it relies on this process to a much lesser degree.  It instead relies more on activity of digestive enzymes in the body that are primarily manufactured by the stomach, liver and pancreas. Saliva pH reveals the flow of enzymes running through your body and shows their effect on all the body systems and your tissues.

Salivary pH should stay between 6.4 and 6.8.  If the saliva pH is too low (below 6.5), the body may be producing too many acids or may be overwhelmed by acids because it has lost the ability to adequately remove them through the urine. If the saliva pH is too high (over 6.8), the body may suffer greatly, e.g. excess gas, constipation and production of yeast, mold and fungus.

How to Determine Your Body pH Level 

The best time to test your pH is about one hour before a meal and two hours after a meal.  I would recommend doing the saliva and urine tests for 10 days in a row. Ignore the top three and bottom three tests because they're extremes. Average the remaining four to determine your pH.  You can retest a few weeks after changing your eating habits. 

pH Levels and What They Mean

 

 phrange.jpg (6843 bytes)

Healthy ph Levels

If your urinary pH fluctuates between 6.4 to 6.8 in the morning and between 6.8 and 7.2 in the evening, your body is functioning within a healthy range.

If your saliva stays between 6.5 and 6.8 all day, your body is functioning within a healthy range.

Your pH should always be between 7.2 to 8.4, right after meals and between 6.8 to 7.2 a couple of hours after meals.

Getting Back on Track

Several studies have shown that physical activity and proper diet are effective interventions to many of the chronic diseases seen today.

Acid and Alkaline Minerals and Foods

To determine if a food is acid or alkaline, it is burned and the ash is mixed with water. If the solution is acid or alkaline then the food is called acid or alkaline. Ash is the mineral content of the food. Nutritionally important alkaline minerals  include calcium (Ca+), potassium (K+), magnesium (Mg+), and sodium (Na+).  

In regards to diet, it is important to understand which foods create an acidic environment, and which foods help counteract an acidic environment. Determining what foods are right for your diet is not as straight forward as it seems. Food's acid or alkaline-forming tendency in the body has nothing to do with the actual pH of the food itself. For example, grapefruits, lemons and limes are very acidic, however the end-products they produce after digestion and assimilation are very alkaline so they are alkaline-forming in the body. Likewise, meat will test alkaline before digestion but it leaves very acidic residue in the body so, like nearly all animal products, meat is very acid-forming.

The following is a brief summary of some specific foods and their effect on the body when digested.

List of Alkaline and Acid Foods:


Alkaline Foods
Acid Foods

Vegetables

Asparagus
Artichokes
Cabbage
Lettuce
Onion
Cauliflower
Radish
Swede
Lambs Lettuce
Peas
Courgette
Red Cabbage
Leeks
Watercress
Spinach
Turnip
Chives
Carrot
Green Beans
Beetroot
Garlic
Celery
Grasses (wheat, straw, barley, dog, kamut etc.)
Cucumber
Broccoli
Kale
Brussels Sprouts

Fruits

Lemon
Lime
Avocado
Tomato
Grapefruit
Watermelon (is neutral)
Rhubarb

Meats

Pork
Lamb
Beef
Chicken
Turkey
Crustaceans
Other Seafood (apart from occasional oily fish such as salmon)


Dairy Products

Milk
Eggs
Cheese
Cream
Yogurt
Ice Cream


Drinks

'Green Drinks'
Fresh vegetable juice
Pure water (distilled, reverse osmosis, ionised)
Lemon water (pure water + fresh lemon or lime).
Herbal Tea
Vegetable broth
Non-sweetened Soy Milk
Almond Milk


Others

Vinegar
White Pasta
White Bread
Wholemeal Bread
Biscuits
Soy Sauce
Tamari
Condiments (Tomato Sauce, Mayonnaise etc.)
Artificial Sweeteners
Honey

Drinks

Fizzy Drinks
Coffee
Tea
Beers
Spirits
Fruit Juice
Dairy Smoothies
Milk
Traditional Tea

Seeds, Nuts & Grains

Almonds
Pumpkin
Sunflower
Sesame
Flax
Buckwheat Groats
Spelt
Lentils
Cumin Seeds
Any sprouted seed

 

Convenience Foods

Sweets
Chocolate
Microwave Meals
Tinned Foods
Powdered Soups
Instant Meals
Fast Food

Fats & Oils

Saturated Fats
Hydrogenated Oils
Margarine (worse than Butter)
Corn Oil
Vegetable Oil
Sunflower Oil

Fats & Oils

Flax
Hemp
Avocado
Olive
Evening Primrose
Borage
Oil Blends (such as Udos Choice)

Others

Sprouts (soy, alfalfa, mung bean, wheat, little radish , chickpea, broccoli etc)
Bragg Liquid Aminos (Soy Sauce Alternative)
Hommous
Tahnini

Fruits

All fruits aside from those listed in the alkaline column.

Seeds & Nuts

Peanuts
Cashew Nuts
Pistachio Nuts

General Guidance:

Stick to salads, fresh vegetables and healthy nuts and oils.  Try to consume plenty of raw foods and at least 2-3 litres of clean, pure water daily.

 

General Guidance:

Steer clear of fatty meats, dairy, cheese, sweets, chocolates, alcohol and tobacco.  Packaged foods are often full of hidden offenders and microwaved meals are full of sugars and salts.  Over cooking also removes all of the nutrition from a meal!

 

Tips to Restore Acid/Alkaline Balance in Your Body

If your saliva and urine are too acid you would benefit from increasing the alkalinity of your body. Ways to do this include:

Eat a balanced diet.  The first step however to eating a properly ph balanced diet is to understand which foods create an acidic environment, and which foods help counteract an acidic environment. Determining what foods are right for your diet is not as straight forward as it seems. Food's acid or alkaline-forming tendency in the body has nothing to do with the actual pH of the food itself. For example, grapefruits, lemons and limes are very acidic, however the end-products they produce after digestion and assimilation are very alkaline so they are alkaline-forming in the body. Likewise, meat will test alkaline before digestion but it leaves very acidic residue in the body so, like nearly all animal products, meat is very acid-forming.

It is important to remember that you need to eat a balanced diet.  While we suggest keeping an eye on your food intake for how it affects your body, we are not suggesting eliminating all acid producing foods.  This would also be unhealthy, Some acid producing foods provide the body with important micronutrients and macronutrients. If you were to cut out all acid producing foods you probably would not get enough high quality complete protein. The key here is balance. Your goal should not be to eliminate acid producing foods, but to instead control your food intake and shift the overall balance of your diet  from acid-forming foods to one of alkaline friendly foods. .For a list of foods and drinks ranked by the ph, alkaline-acid effect on the body, click here.

Avoid the "strongly acid" foods. Avoid or at least minimize strongly acid foods. It is important to know which foods actually create an acidic environment. Some may be obvious, while others may surprise you. Everyone knows that soda has a very low ph (acidic) so avoid sodas. How about grapefruits and other citrus fruits?

Most people believe that "acidic" fruits like lemons, limes and low sugar grapefruits are acidic and will acidify the fluids of the body. This however is incorrect. The citric, lactic, and other acids in such fruits exist primarily in their anionic form, especially as their Na+ and K+ salts (e.g., potassium citrate or calcium ascorbate). Following absorption, these anions are metabolized in the body to bicarbonate (HCO3) and therefore will alkalize -- not acidify -- the blood and tissues. Alkalinization occurs even though the fruits pH in vitro is typically low (4 pH), because the free protons are more than offset by the generate bicarbonate -- electrons. So, until you know your food phH effects, you may want to consult a Alkaline- Acid Food Chart, like the one online here.

Eat mostly alkaline foods. The general "rule of thumb" is to eat 20% acid foods and 80% alkaline foods. Consume higher alkaline foods such as green leafy vegetables, broccoli, spinach, as well as mild alkaline fruits,and vegetables. You do not  have to be a vegetarian to gain the alkalizing benefits of fruits and vegetables. Just a  handful of raisins, two dates, or a small banana each provide more than 300 mg of potassium. In fact it takes just about 35 percent of total calories as fruits and veggies to produce a net alkaline load. 

Drink alkaline water. Drinking alkaline water will help balance the acidic effect of the diet, such as the metabolizing effect of most protein and many carbohydrates.

There are many good alkalizing water machines out there at a fair price.High quality water ionizers can create high alkaline water that you can test and see that the pH is indeed alkaline.  We checked them all out and came up with a list of 3 good units that really do the job.  Each of the higher quality machines come with various filters that can also remove many low level contaminants that are allowable, within the public drinking water supply. 

Alkaline water has several advantages over the top selling bottled waters, as well as your tap water. Besides being cleaner, alkaline (aka Kangen) drinking water has exceptional hydrating qualities. These hydrating qualities enable the body to deliver nutrients more efficiently at the cellular level. Claims are also made that this also help detoxifies the cells. The machine we purchased generates Ionized water with the highest anti-oxidant qualities of any machine tested. The process creates  an abundance of negative ions. It is believed that these negative ions neutralize free radicals which are known to contribute to aging and disease and they also energize the body. The ionizer we purchased beats the Enagic model on several fronts, and your cost will be half that of the Enagic unit, and you will not be disappointed. The unit we purchased comes with a 5 year warranty, free delivery, and the company has , so been manufacturing and distributing alkaline water ionizers to doctors and the public for 12 years. The company stands behind their product. They  are totally reputable, and not a multi-level marketing (MLM) group selling $2000 dollar units for $4000 so they can pay the 8 levels of the MLM pyramid..If you would like to know more about this machine, and would like a great deal on it, just contact us

Avoid or at least limit "strongly acid" drinks. Coffee and sodas are highly acidic and should be avoided when possible. Consider this, most sodas have a pH of around 2.0 to 2.3. That makes sodas 100,000 times more acidic than water which generally has a pH of 7.0, which is neutral. Is this truly a surprise when phosphoric acid is one of the main ingredients?

Limit mild acidic foods and drinks.
  Limit mild acidic foods (e.g., 
grains, legumes, nuts) and drinks.

Lower your glycemic load.  Cut back on breads, pastas, and other grain-based foods, as well as "high-glycemic" foods such as potatoes. Besides causing potential acid conditions, higher blood sugar and higher insulin levels they are also nutrient-poor foods, compared with protein and vegeatables. Refined carbohydrates also effects Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) risk. Refined carbohydrates are highly processed, resulting in removal of fiber,
vitamins,
minerals, phytonutrients, and Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs). Consumption of refined carbohydrates compared with whole grains increases the risk of Coronary Artery Disease CAD) resulting, in part, from the increased glycemic load of these types of carbohydrates.

Limit artificial sweeteners. Artificial chemical sweeteners like NutraSweet, Equal, or aspartame, are extremely acid-forming. Consider natural sweetener stevia instead.

Supplement your diet. The following is just a partial list of potential supplements. 
  • Salts of the alkaline minerals cesium, rubidium.
  • Magnesium citrate. Absorbable magnesium is crucial to help build necessary buffers. Magnesium is often lost in urine as a consequence of too much acid in the body. If your urine is 5.8-7.2 take magnesium citrate to support healthy bones.
  • Sulfur acts as a buffer to maintain proper pH levels.
  • Calcium citrate. This supplement is better absorbed than calcium carbonate (coral calcium is largely calcium carbonate).
  • Potassium is a crucial mineral for maintaining bone, mainly by promoting alkalinity.
  • Buffered vitamin C, which is ascorbic acid formulated with the carbonate forms of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, might also have a slight alkalizing effect.
  • Kelp (Seaweed) is high in alkaline and other healthy nutrients.
  • Colloidal Minerals. Colloidal Minerals can help provide structural integrity for muscles, skin and hair, help eliminate toxins, supports enzyme function, enhance protein synthesis, provides electrolytes for cellular fluid balance, help regulate blood pressure and help supports the immune system. Consider a high quality pH-balanced product that contains a full spectrum of macro and trace minerals, that can be easily assimilated into the body.
  • Phosphorus is a mineral that helps convert food to energy.
  • Elder Bark, Hops and Willow are examples of supplements that may reduce stress (stress can create acidic conditions).
  • Enzymes for better digestion.Examples my include: Amylase, Cellulase, Hydrilla, Marshmallow, Papaya, Protease, Lipase, Pectinase / Phytase, etc.).
Is It Possible to be Too Alkaline? 

Just like it is not healthy to be too acidic, it is also not healthy to be too alkaline.  Some tissues and fluids in the body are normally alkaline, some acid. The body is constantly working to adjust to the environments we put it through so that it keeps its internal environments at the correct pH. For example, the stomach and large intestine must be acidic to breakdown food. Blood pH is the best indicator of internal balance- it is slightly alkaline at about 7.3. However, as one becomes more acidic, the blood increases in alkalinity, a protective mechanism, retaining alkaline salts to offset the increase in tissue acidity. Therefore, if the blood is too alkaline, it is an indication of imbalance in the tissues, a serious problem of excess acidity.

Cautionary Approach May be the Best Approach

It is important to note that large, well-designed clinical trials on the effectiveness of the alkaline diet for general health are lacking, therefore before starting such a diet it's a good idea to consult your doctor before trying a new diet.

The alkaline diet should not be used by people with acute or chronic kidney failure unless under a doctor's supervision. People with pre-existing heart disease and those on medications that affect potassium levels in the body should check with their doctor first.

Sources/References:
Cordain L, Eaton SB, Sebastian A, Mann N, Lindeberg S, Watkins BA, O'Keefe JH, Brand-Miller J. Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 81.2 (2005): 341-354.

Minich DM, Bland JS. Acid-alkaline balance: role in chronic disease and detoxification. AlternativeTherapies in Health and Medicine. 13.4 (2007): 62-65.
 


 

 
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