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The Alkaline Diet: All you need to know

If you are one to scroll through the health and wellness news, you have likely noticed the buzz surrounding the alkaline diet. As these things make their way around the news cycles, the alkaline diet has gained some attention for the many claims regarding health benefits. 

People who have tried the alkaline diet promote the idea that eating acidic and acid-forming foods like red meat can alter the pH levels in your body. The alkaline diet is based on the idea that by balancing our internal pH, we are healthier. 

There are numerous health benefits associated with the alkaline diet. This notion that the pH levels of the body require some explanation. As the alkaline diet gains in popularity, it is helpful to get an understanding of some of the science behind things like pH levels and how they affect our bodies. 

This guide will explore the benefits of the alkaline diet. We will also explain the science of pH levels and pH balance. In this way, we will offer you some serious information on how to properly take on the alkaline diet to get the most benefits. 

What is the Alkaline diet?

The alkaline diet is sometimes referred to as the acid-alkaline diet or the alkaline ash diet. The idea behind the alkaline diet is that the way you eat can alter the pH values in your body, and this alters your overall health. The pH level is a measure of acidity or alkalinity. In your body, the tendency toward acidity or alkalinity can alter nearly every other aspect of your health. 

As your metabolism converts food into energy, multiple chemical reactions occur. In a balanced system, these chemical reactions occur in a slow and highly regulated manner. When the pH levels of your internal systems are significantly altered this can change the rate and efficiency of these chemical reactions. 

For example, when you burn things, there is a residue from the burn: ashes. In a complete burn, there are few ashes left. Similarly, when your body consumes foods through the metabolic processes, it produces a certain residue. This is the waste materials we naturally eliminate.

Metabolic waste can be acidic, alkaline, or neutral depending on the kinds of foods you eat. This will have an impact on the overall pH of your body and your metabolism. For instance, if you eat too many acid-producing foods, the metabolic waste will be acidic. This, in turn, can turn your blood acidic. This is the theory behind pH levels in the body and the alkaline diet. 

One of the main theories behind the alkaline diet is that acidic metabolic waste can make you susceptible to diseases. By turning your metabolic waste toward the alkaline side, you protect yourself from illness and disease and improve your health. 

Foods that contain higher quantities of protein, phosphate, and sulfur tend to produce acidity in the body. Foods containing higher levels of calcium, magnesium, and potassium tend to make the body more alkaline. 

These foods can be arranged in the following way:

Acidic: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, grains, alcohol

Neutral: natural fats, starches, sugars

Alkaline: fruits, nuts, legumes, vegetables

The alkaline diet will adjust your diet according to these chemical tendencies in foods. 

Benefits of the Alkaline diet

There are some broad claims about the alkaline diet, but many of them now have some sound scientific evidence behind them. Some of the benefits of the alkaline diet include:

Preserves muscle mass

The alkaline diet may preserve muscle mass as you age. This is an important consideration for preventing falls and fractures. A comprehensive study that spanned three years found that acid-producing foods like those that contain high levels of potassium, fruits, and vegetables helped older adults maintain significant muscle mass. 

Another study that measured the muscle mass of women aged 18-79 saw substantial retention of muscle mass from adhering to an alkaline-rich diet. 

These studies are still ongoing, but the result thus far shows that an alkaline diet is effective in preserving muscle mass as we age. 

Can help with diabetes

There is evidence to show that the alkaline diet can help people living with diabetes. In a study that tracked more than 60,000 participants, researchers found that those who followed an alkaline diet and reduced their intake of acid-producing foods had significantly fewer cases of diabetes and suffered fewer symptoms of diabetes.  

Researchers suggest that acid-producing foods harm insulin resistance. This is one of the main issues that lead to diabetes. 

Chronic kidney disease

High acidic loads in metabolic waste are thought to contribute to metabolic acidosis and this can lead to chronic kidney disease. Recent research on the effects of acid-producing foods on kidneys and kidney disease found that eating high acid-producing foods does contribute to chronic kidney disease. 

These studies tracked people for more than twenty years and determined that those who consumed high acid foods were far more likely to develop chronic kidney disease than those who leaned toward an alkaline diet. 

Cardiovascular health

Studies have shown that those with high acid levels in their metabolism are much more likely to develop conditions like an atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease than those with low acid that comes from adhering to an alkaline diet. What is more, those who followed an alkaline diet had significantly lower mortality rates due to cardiovascular problems than those who tended toward an acidic diet.  

Researchers found that an alkaline diet contributed to lower mortality rates as the result of cardiovascular disease in both men and women, thus confirming that it is the alkaline diet that reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Reduced risk of fractures

One of the main reasons many people switch to the alkaline diet is because it is known to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis happens when our bones grow pore porous and brittle with age. 

It is believed that an acidic diet leeches calcium from bones and contributes to the development and progression of osteoporosis. By adhering to an alkaline diet, you can sustain the health of your bones and ward off the onset of osteoporosis.  

May fight cancer

Some insist that cancer can only grow in an acidic environment. An alkaline diet can not only prevent cancer but also stop it from progressing. 

The research on the links between the alkaline diet and cancer prevention are inconclusive at this time. However, there is anecdotal evidence to show that an acidic metabolic environment does contribute to cancer growth and that by reducing this acidity with an alkaline diet may reduce your risk of cancer. 

Normal body tissue tends toward the alkaline side which means that cancers are more likely in an acidic environment. There is also evidence to show that tumors grow faster in an acidic environment. 

All of this leads many people to conclude that you are far safer sticking with a diet that is more alkaline since the risks of developing cancer are generally associated with an acidic diet. 

Nutrition on the Alkaline diet

While the alkaline diet is designed to achieve a specific chemical goal in your body, in the final analysis, it simply emphasizes some of the healthiest foods you can eat. The alkaline diet is made up of fruits, vegetables, and limits or eliminates processed foods. The foods you do eat are some of the most nutritious. 

The USDA dietary guidelines contain a list of the most nutritious foods available. The following foods make up a substantial part of an alkaline diet and are included on the USDA list:

  • Vegetables, specifically dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, broccoli, chard, and green beans. 
  • Fruits like apples, berries, and melons
  • Grains such as quinoa, brown rice, and oats
  • Lean meats, chicken breast, fish, and turkey breast
  • Beans and legumes
  • Nuts and seeds, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds
  • Dairy, reduced-fat milk, cheese, yogurt
  • Oils like olive oil and avocado oil

All of these foods can be eaten without any restrictions, and all are filled with nutrition. It is well-known that a plant-based diet is great for the health of your heart, it reduces your risk of cancer, and is good for the environment. 

Alkaline diet and weight loss

You will likely lose weight on an alkaline diet. One of the main reasons for this is that the alkaline diet eliminates processed foods which are some of the main culprits in weight gain and obesity. Rather, the alkaline diet emphasizes whole grains, vegetables, and soy products all of which are great foods to help you lose weight. The alkaline diet most often presents a calorie deficit in your diet. 

The alkaline diet is quite similar to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Both of these diets involve fewer calories than diets that are heavy on meat.  

Side effects of the Alkaline diet

There are no real side effects to an alkaline diet. The alkaline diet is not substantially different from any other mostly plant-based diet. You indeed need to pay attention to things like protein intake, but many plant-based proteins are included in the alkaline diet. 

Things like DNA, fatty acids, and amino acids are essential building blocks of life. You must make certain you are eating enough of the right things to make sure you are still getting things like essential amino acids. However, it is relatively simple to balance out these natural acids with alkaline foods to achieve a net alkaline diet. 

Alkaline diet FAQs

What is the alkaline diet? 

The alkaline diet is sometimes referred to as the acid-alkaline diet or the alkaline ash diet. The idea behind the alkaline diet is that the way you eat can alter the pH values in your body, and this alters your overall health. The pH level is a measure of acidity or alkalinity. In your body, the tendency toward acidity or alkalinity can alter nearly every other aspect of your health. 

What is the purpose of the alkaline diet? 

One of the main theories behind the alkaline diet is that acidic metabolic waste can make you susceptible to diseases. By turning your metabolic waste toward the alkaline side, you protect yourself from illness and disease and improve your health. 

What are the health benefits of the alkaline diet? 

The alkaline diet can prevent muscle and bone loss that comes with aging, it can help prevent diabetes and health disease, and the alkaline diet may work to prevent cancer. 

Can I lose weight on the alkaline diet?

The alkaline diet eliminates processed foods which are some of the main culprits in weight gain and obesity. Rather, the alkaline diet emphasizes whole grains, vegetables, and soy products all of which are great foods to help you lose weight. The alkaline diet most often presents a calorie deficit in your diet. 

Are there any side effects of the alkaline diet? 

Generally, there are no side effects to the alkaline diet. However, you need to make sure you are eating the right foods that contain things like essential amino acids. 

Conclusion

There is never any shortage of diet fads that circulate at any given time. We all see them in magazines and on the internet Few, if any, provide the benefits they claim to offer. The alkaline diet is no fad diet. 

The alkaline diet is a largely plant-based diet that is similar to a vegetarian or vegan diet. All you need to pay attention to on the alkaline diet is the kinds of foods that are high in acid content like red meats. Otherwise, the alkaline diet is extremely healthy and nutritious. 

The idea behind the alkaline diet is that acid-based foods tend to make your metabolism and bloodstream acidic, and this contributes to several serious illnesses and diseases. By eating foods that render your body more alkaline, you avoid these diseases and problems and may even prevent things like cancer. 

While you do need to pay attention to what you eat on the alkaline diet, you will not be in the business of counting calories or carbs. There are some simple food groups to include and some to avoid. Beyond that, there are no restrictions on the alkaline diet. The alkaline diet is healthy and it is easy.  

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