Following an alkaline diet is a popular approach to reduce acidity in the body, lose weight and prevent chronic inflammation, but there are a few things you should know about before starting this intense diet.
What is an Alkaline Diet?
An alkaline diet is a diet that restricts foods that are believed to increase acidity in the body. This diet relates to your body’s pH levels, and whether the acidity levels of your blood, urine, and gut are at a stable and healthy level. When your body is excessively acidic, it can increase your risk for a number of chronic diseases, and also make it more difficult to lose weight. The body’s normal pH level should be between 6.5 and 7.5 every morning; depending on your individual diet and lifestyle habits, this number could vary more than that. Ideally, however, the body should maintain an average between 7.3 and 7.4, which is slightly alkaline (basic).
The alkaline diet is one of the more difficult to successfully maintain, since many of the eliminated foods are common, popular items in most diets. The majority of this diet is also vegetarian and vegan, so meat-lovers attempting an alkaline diet may struggle. Due to the high level of sodium and refined/processed foods in the modern diet, many people experience metabolic acidosis, which leaves the body at an overly acidic level (below a pH of 7). By eliminating many of the foods that can increase acidity levels and inflammation, it is possible to boost magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus concentrations in the blood.
Benefits of an Alkaline Diet
The primary benefits of an alkaline diet include its ability to reduce hypertension, potentially prevent certain cancers, and protect bone mineral density, among others.
Bone Mineral Density
When the body is overly acidic, it will often leach calcium and other minerals from the bones, which can increase your risk of osteoporosis. The alkaline diet will put a stop to that and replace the minerals you’ve lost.
Calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium are important for the maintenance of lean muscle mass, and this diet increases your intake of these critical nutrients.
Fruits and vegetables are notably high in antioxidants, which can counter oxidative stress and lower cancer risk. According to a study published in Nutrition and Cancer, a meta-analysis of over 200 studies showed that eating fruits and vegetables had a cancer-preventive effect.
This diet is particularly well known for lowering inflammation throughout the body, which relieves strain on the immune system and improves the quality of life.
How to Eat an Alkaline Diet?
As mentioned, an alkaline diet can be difficult to follow, due to the sheer amount of foods you need to eliminate. One of the best ways to ensure that you are moving in the right direction is to buy organic alkaline foods. Knowing where your food comes from will allow you to identify whether the soil the vegetables are being grown in is acidic or basic. You want organic farming practices in well-rotated fields with a neutral or slightly alkaline soil pH.
Aside from your diet, there are many other lifestyle factors that can affect acidity, such as chronic stress, lack of exercise, low fiber intake, pollution or exposure to chemicals, among many others.
Alkaline Foods You Can Eat
- Fruits and vegetables (mushrooms, cucumber, kale, garlic, jicama, celery, green beans, bananas, and avocados)
- Legumes and nuts (navy beans, lima beans, lentils almonds)
- Soybean products (tofu)
- Alkaline water (add lemon juice or lime juice)
- Green drinks (grass and vegetable extracts in powdered form)
- Grains (amaranth, quinoa, millet, buckwheat)
Non-Alkaline Foods to Avoid
- Processed cereals
- Caffeine and alcohol
- Whole wheat products
- Pasta, rice, and bread
- Walnuts and peanuts
- Processed foods with high sodium levels
- Meat (beef, pork, turkey, chicken, etc.)
- Dairy products (cheese, milk, cream, yogurt)
Alkaline Diet Side Effects
The most common side effect of going on this diet is nutrient deficiencies since the types of food are so strongly limited. By cutting out so many sources of healthy fats, you risk problems with cholesterol and inflammation in the body. Furthermore, some of the other critical minerals found in alternate protein sources will be unavailable, so malnutrition is a risk. Be sure to speak with your doctor about your specific health status before attempting this diet.