What is the purpose of an alkaline diet?
The purpose of an alkaline diet—also known as the alkaline ash diet or alkaline acid diet—is to balance the pH levels in your body.
A pH level measures how acidic or alkaline something is on a scale of 0-14. The lower the number, the more acidic, and the higher the number, the more alkaline. These pH levels vary throughout your body based on what function that part of your body needs to perform. For example, your stomach is 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 alkalinity level in your blood steady.
With the shift from hunter-gatherer civilizations to agricultural and industrial civilizations, our diets and therefore the pH balancing nutrients in them, have changed. The average diet today is poor in magnesium, potassium, and fiber, while becoming rich in saturated fat, simple sugars, sodium, and chloride. This makes it harder for our bodies to maintain pH balance on their own.
When our pH levels become too acidic, metabolic acidosis happens.
Don’t fear—all is not lost. We simply have to pay a little more attention to what we eat and make an effort to get the foods we need to bring that pH back into balance. That’s where an alkaline diet comes in.
What conditions can an alkaline diet help?
“Human life requires a tightly controlled pH level of about 7.4 (a slightly alkaline range of 7.35 to 7.45) to survive.” (Source)
It makes sense then, that optimizing the pH levels in your body will help improve health and protect you from health issues. Studies show that some benefits of an alkaline diet may include:
- Improves sodium/potassium ratio: benefits bone health, reduce muscle wasting, as well as mitigate chronic diseases such as hypertension and strokes
- Increase in growth hormone: improves cardiovascular health, memory and cognition
- Increase in intracellular magnesium: improves function of enzyme systems and activates Vitamin D
- Lowers chronic pain and inflammation: Chronic acidosis has been shown to contribute to chronic back pain. When given alkaline supplements, patients showed an improvement in pain by helping to balance the acid-base balance. (Source)
As an added benefit, an alkaline diet can help promote weight loss since it minimizes sodium-laden foods and promotes the consumption of organic fruits and veggies. Not to mention that reducing chronic inflammation removes an important barrier to weight loss.
If you have a condition that would be helped by watching the alkaline and acid levels of your food, then you can begin by adding in some alkaline veggies to your diet! Here are some of the best options to get you started.
Alkaline Veggies to Add to Your Diet
The first thing to note when choosing veggies is to pay attention to what kind of soil they are grown in, as the soil affects their pH levels. All veggies are not created equal! Veggies grown in organic, nutrient-dense soil will be more alkalizing.
You first vegetable option is one you might already eat on a regular basis, which is good news! This makes it a lot easier.
This staple vegetable is highly anti-inflammatory and provides a good amount of choline, which is an important B vitamin for brain health. Studies have shown that it can help reduce the speed of brain deterioration due to old age.
It is also an excellent source of antioxidants and phytonutrients, which give the body a better chance at fighting free radicals. Cauliflower also helps cardiovascular health because of the agent sulforaphane, which promotes proper cell formation of the veins and arteries.
Another option is to add more radishes to your current diet. Radishes are known to have a cooling effect on the body and were used by ancient Chinese doctors to help people cope with heat during hot weather. They are also diuretic and help the body to flush toxins by passing them into urine and out of the body. Additionally, they are high in vitamin C and other trace minerals.
Along with its alkalinity, lettuce provides a lot of the important trace minerals. These include phosphorus, calcium, iron, potassium, sodium, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6, vitamin K, riboflavin, niacin, folate, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A.
It is relatively easy to eat more lettuce, putting this veggie near the top of the list. You can add lettuce to sandwiches or burgers, make lettuce wraps, or add a side salad to your dinner.
A high fiber vegetable, carrots are well known for their starchy, fibrous body. They are high in pantothenic acid, folate, potassium, iron, copper, and manganese, and have excellent antioxidant properties. Carrots make an excellent addition to any meal, and can be cooked in a variety of ways. They have long been associated with the improvement of eyesight, and studies have shown that carrots can prevent some forms of muscular degeneration that are common as humans age.
More than just a staple food for some cultures, green beans are another highly antioxidant and anti-inflammatory food with many health benefits. Green beans have been found to be effective at reducing risks associated with heart disease due to the high number of flavonoids.
It is best to choose fresh or frozen varieties, rather than canned, due to the added sodium. If you do need them canned, get the ‘no salt added’ variety, and give them a good rinse just to be sure you don’t have extra sodium.
Celery is a heavily fibrous plant that has its roots deep in history as an anti-high blood pressure medicine. It is highly anti-inflammatory and has powerful antioxidant properties. Celery also contains quite a few trace minerals and vitamins. Another amazing effect of celery is its ability to stimulate liver functions. It does this by helping the liver to produce liver cleansing enzymes. It can help you to both lower your cholesterol and fight microbial infections in the body too.
Celery juice has also become popular lately. You can get a juicer and use stalks of celery to make juice with celery alone. It has such a high water content that it won’t take as much as other vegetables to get a full glass of juice!
Have you heard of the alkaline diet before? I hope this article cleared up some confusion! If you have any questions, drop them in the comments and I’ll be happy to help.