Advocates of an alkaline diet state that because about 75% of our body is made up of water, which helps to transport nutrients, oxygen and biochemicals in our bloodstream, this medium can either have acidic or alkaline properties.
This is measured by a scale called the pH factor where a pH of 1.0 to 6.9 is considered acidic, 7.0 is neutral and 7.1 to 14.0 is alkaline.
Essentially, the lower the pH, the greater the alkalinity. A healthy body needs a healthy pH level and our acid-alkaline balance should ideally be a ratio of 1:4 for optimum health. This means that for every part of acid there are four alkaline parts. This can be easily maintained by eating foods in a similar acid:alkaline ratio. Therefore, ideally we should ensure that about 80% of our food intake is alkaline in nature, while only 20% of it should be acidic.
Determining your balance.
Susan Lark, MD, co-author of The Chemistry of Success: Six Secrets of Peak Performance, asserts that being cognisant of your body’s acid-alkaline balance is crucial to achieving better health, as it affects various health issues, including immunity, digestion and general bodily function.
To function properly cells need to remain slightly alkaline. The problem is that most of us tend to maintain a high degree of acidity. Our fitness, or lack thereof, plays a role, as do certain medications and stress. In terms of diet, high-fat, high-protein junk foods and refined sugars trigger a response in the stomach, causing it to release a greater amount of acidic digestive fluids.
Thankfully it doesn’t require invasive or overly involved procedures to determine whether your body is alkaline or acidic. All you really need are some pH strips and saliva or urine sample. There a also some simple ye-or-no questions which may help make your determination. Dr Lark suggests that you ask yourself the following questions:
If you answer ‘yes’ to five or more questions, your body is most likely overly acidic:
- Do you not feel your best after consuming fried foods, red meat, fast food, colas or desserts?
- Do you regularly eat refined foods such as white flour and sugar?
- Do you regularly take aspirin, antibiotics or unbuffered vitamin C?
- Does vigorous exercise often leave you feeling exhausted?
- After an hour of work at your desk, do you feel mentally and physically tired?
- Are your muscles often stiff and sore?
- Do you have a history of osteoporosis, arthritis or gout?
- Have you already celebrated your 50th birthday?
- Do you frequently catch a cold or the flu?
- Are you susceptible to sore throats or food allergies?
- Is your hair and skin dry?
- Do you have large pores or are you ageing prematurely?
Our diet creates the imbalance
Through the years the diet humans consume has shifted from alkaline to acidic, which has disrupted our normal alkaline levels. This has caused an imbalance that leads to the loss of essential minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium.
Just as acid rain damages forests and alkaline waste pollutes rivers, an unbalanced pH can destroy body cells and tissues by slowly ‘gnawing’ away at veins and arteries. If ignored an unbalanced pH will interrupt al cellular functions, including molecular transport, reproduction and energy conversion, resulting in serious degenerative diseases.
Advocates of an alkaline diet promote a diet heavy in fruits an vegetables, but light on meat, dairy, sugar and grains.
Many mainstream doctors say that the body has its own system to deal with acidity, so we shouldn’t worry about it. However, new research suggests that what the body does to regulate pH can lead to thinner bones and weaker muscles.
Every minute there are many functions that are carried out simultaneously within our bodies. For all of these functions to be carried out smoothly, on basic requirement is necessary: The body’s acid-alkaline balance, which must be maintained to enable the immune system to fight diseases and to prevent cell degeneration (ageing, illness and poor health).
Dr Linda Frassetto, a researcher at the University of California, says we are in the midst of an evolutionary change in the way the body reacts to its environment, and it is now trying to take step it has never had to take to save itself. As such, we are routinely exposed to some truly awful toxins, but it seems that our bodies have turned an evolutionary corner and may no longer be capable of caring for us adequately.
These toxins are one thing, but how our body adjusts is quite another, So what’s important is the ratio of acid minerals and alkaline minerals in our body, not the ration of acid minerals and alkaline minerals in our food. This is a crucial point in understanding the delicate balance within our bodies.
Most of us think everything can be fixed through our diet or with a pill. Of course, diet is hugely important, but we need to understand that the way a body reacts to what we put into our mouths isn’t about what we are eating. It’s about how well our body id working with the minerals it already has in it. Our acid-alkaline balance is actually all about what minerals stores or ‘buffers’ we have in our system. Too much acid and certain symptoms will begin to appear, while too much alkaline will cause the same.
Bob Livingston, Natural Health author, summarises the point well. “It is now believed by many authorities that most disease develops because of a lowering of the function and resistance of the body due to chronic acidosis.” In this regard, Dr. Goerge W. Crile, past head of the Crile Clinic in Cleveland and one of the world’s greatest surgeons supports this view. “There is not natural death. All deaths from so-called natural causes are merely the endpoint of a progressive acid saturation.”
Achieve a healthy balance through diet and exercise
Maintaining a healthy alkaline-acidic balance is not always easy, especially in today’s society where our foods are grossly over-processed and are highly acidic. Soft drinks, fast foods and processed foods deposit acid waste in our bodies that builds up over time and creates the ideal environment for diseases an cancerous cells to thrive.
75-80% of your diet should be salads, fresh vegetables, healthy nuts and oils and plenty of raw foods. Acid-forming foods like beef or chicken should comprise the remainder of your diet.
In addition to eliminating foods that raise your body’s acidity levels. alkaline diet promotes a healthy pH balance by maximising oxygen consumption, reducing stress and promoting relaxation. All of these can be accomplished through a healthy combination of moderate cardiovascular, resistance and mind/ body exercises.
The alkaline diet is supported by aerobic exercise because it delivers loads of additional oxygen to your body, which helps convert glucose to energy. Walking is a great way to exercise and can be done almost anywhere. It also allows you to focus on your oxygen intake as you move. Mild jogging, aerobic dance, bike riding and swimming are also favourable. Stress is also one of the quickest ways to raise your acidity levels, so be sure that the exercise you choose supports maintaining a no-orlow stress level.
Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates are all beneficial to the alkaline dieter because they promote natural, deep breathing.They also promote balance, flexibility and strength without overworking the body by putting it into an anaerobic state. Anaerobic workouts are generally defined as short duration, high intensity exercises that require large bursts of energy in a short amount of time, which results in the conversion of pyruvic acid into lactic acid. As lactic acid builds up, it changes the pH of the muscle tissues, This applies to those who enjoy plyometrics, sprinting, interval training, weightlifting, bodybuilding and the like. You’ll know you are working in an anaerobic state if you are breathing fast and hard, getting fatigued or feeling uncomfortable. When you exercise your muscles use oxygen in the bloodstream to fuel the aerobic energy pathway. Once you exceed the oxygen – carrying capacity of your cardiorespiratory system your muscles turn to anaerobic respiration literally ‘breathing without air’.
Stored reserves are burn in a chemical reaction that releases oxygen for the muscles to use, as well as lactic acid. As the acidity in the muscle rises it begins
to fatigue. This lactic acid buildup also purportedly contributes to next-day muscle soreness and stiffness commonly experienced after exercising.
Whether or not you’re intentionally working anaerobically, I highly recommend that you combat the excess acidity caused by your workouts by consuming more fruits and veggies to replenish the glycogen-based energy stores in your muscles. Adding whey protein to your diet, instead of relying solely on acidic meats, poultry and fish products will also allow you to increase your protein consumption to meet your exercise needs while still promoting an alkaline environment.
In addition to whey, there are other supplements that can assist in maintaining an alkaline environment in your body. Drinking sodium bicarbonate, for instance, helps to keep the acidity of your body down, while an intracellular pH buffer like Beta Alanine does the same thing, but on a lower level. Spirulina has also been proven to be a nutrient dense alkalising food, which both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) have recognised as a superfood.
And always remember to drink enough water as it is an important constituent in the alkaline-acid balance, and stay away from carbonated or fizzy drinks whenever possible.
Your Action Plan
The secret to optimal health using the alkaline diet is not in eliminating all acid-producing foods in your diet, but rather in creating a balanced acid-alkaline mix of foods at mealtime. This essentially means that you don’t need to starve yourself to stay in shape. A generous mix of both acid and alkaline-Producing food in the right proportions will sustain a healthy lifestyle. To ensure a sufficient supply of alkaline foods (75-80% of your diet) eat salads, fresh vegetables, healthy nuts and oils and plenty of raw foods. Acid-forming foods should comprise the remainder of your diet. This includes lean beef, chicken and lamb, but avoid fatty meats, dairy, cheese, sweets, chocolates, alcohol and tobacco. And beware of the hidden content in microwave meals and don’t overcook your food. If you choose to follow these tips then you can rest assured that a pH-balanced diet will reduce your risk of terminal diseases and will contribute to increased longevity, as well as a greater enjoyment of life in general through improved vitality.
- Key benefits of eating an alkaline diet
- Helps maintain bone mass
- Helps to reduce body fat
- Helps fight the ageing process
- Higher energy levels
- Better immune system function 8
- Lower risk of chronic diseases
- Weight control
- Reduced risk of cysts