June 7, 2018
by
in Nutrition

The alkaline diet focuses on consuming alkaline or low-acidic foods with a goal of maintaining optimal pH level in the body.

Proponents of this diet argue from the basis that the foods we eat are absorbed as either acidic or base-forming compounds. The former is said to create an environment where cancer cells can thrive while the latter can inhibit or slow the growth of cancer cells. However, the effectiveness of this diet in fighting cancer is still being debated by nutritionists and scientists.

Some folks have already made the alkaline diet a part of their eating lifestyle while some are still wondering whether it’s worth the hype or not. If you are still on the fence, here’s what you need to know about an alkaline diet.

What is an alkaline diet?

The alkaline diet is based on the theory that eating alkaline foods can help maintain the body’s pH level between 7.35 and 7.45. Chemistry taught us that every substance has a pH value, measured on a scale from 0 – 14. Just to remind you, values closer to zero mean high acidity, while values closer to 14 translates to high alkalinity. 7 is neutral.

The Honestly Healthy cookbook by Vicki Edgson and Natasha Corrett recommends eating 80% alkaline foods and 20% acidic foods. That leads us to the foods that make up the alkaline diet.

Alkaline diet foods

The alkaline diet emphasizes on eating plenty of vegetables and fruits on a daily basis. Legumes, roots, and nuts are also in this category. The most alkaline foods include artichoke, asparagus, beetroot, broccoli, cauliflower, dates, fennel, figs, grapefruit, kale, lemon, lime, and watercress.

At this point, you may wonder how on earth lemon falls into the alkaline diet. The truth of the matter is, a food’s pH isn’t measured by its physical qualities but the effects it has on the body. Lemon juice may be acidic but it has alkalizing effects in the body.

A study done by Dr. Thomas Remer and Manz uses a formula known as Potential Renal Acid Load (PRAL) to calculate the acidity or alkalinity of foods. Basically, if you add the PRAL values of all the foods you eat, you will get the net acidity or alkalinity value for your day.

Note: If veggies and fruits form core components of your everyday meals, you don’t have to worry about these PRALs and what have you. In addition, we don’t think it’s wise to micromanage your diet in order to achieve the lowest pH level. 

The table below shows some sample foods and their PRAL values: check the complete list here. (Foods with a negative value exert a base effect while those with a positive value an acid effect.)

Base foods

FOODPRAL
Fruit
Apples-2.2
Apricots-4.8
Black currants-6.5
Lemon juice-2.5
Oranges-2.7
Peaches-2.4
Pears-2.9
Raisins-21
Strawberries-2.2
Watermelon-1.9
Vegetables
Asparagus-0.4
Broccoli-1.2
Carrots-4.9
Celery-5.2
Cucumber-0.8
Green beans-3.1
Lettuce-2.5
Potatoes-4.0
Spinach-14.0
Tomatoes-3.1
Beverages
Coffee-1.4
Red wine-2.4
White wine-1.2
Apple juice, unsweetened-2.2
Orange juice, unsweetened-2.9
Lemon juice, unsweetened-2.5
Condiments and Sweets
Honey-0.3

Acidic foods

FOODPRAL
Meat
Beef7.8
Chicken8.7
Pork7.9
Salami11.6
Turkey9.9
Fish and Seafood
Cod7.1
Trout10.8
Milk, Dairy, and Eggs
Cheddar cheese, reduced fat26.4
Cottage cheese, plain8.7
Eggs8.2
Egg white1.1
Ice cream, vanilla0.6
Milk, whole0.7
Yogurt, plain1.5
Beans and Legumes
Lentils3.5
Grain Products
Bread, whole wheat1.8
Bread, white3.7
Rice, brown12.5
Spaghetti6.5
White flour8.2
Nuts
Peanuts8.3
Walnuts6.8

What are the benefits of an Alkaline Diet?

The authors of the Honestly Healthy cookbook claim that the diet can boost energy levels and memory, help prevent bloating, heart disease, insomnia, muscle pain, and headaches. There are also bold claims that suggest the alkaline diet can help with problems such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis and even slowing down the aging process.

Alkaline foods are also less demanding for the digestive system to breakdown hence minerals and vitamins are more effectively absorbed. Additionally, the nuts and seeds recommended as part of the diet are rich in essential fats which help to enhance skin tone.

Should you try the alkaline diet?

Despite the fact that an alkaline shouldn’t be utilized in place of standard treatment for any health condition, embracing a plant-based diet rich in fruits and veggies may help you accomplish general wellness and protect against several ailments.

There are a lot of foods on the acid-forming category (such as beans, grains, and nuts) that have positive traits while are foods on the base-forming list (such as coffee and wine) that should be consumed with some restraint. Nonetheless, it is wise to strive to achieve a balanced diet as opposed to viewing the foods as those to eat and ones to dodge.

How can you follow the alkaline diet?

Simple! Just stick to the 80/20 rule. This means your daily meals should mainly comprise of vegetables and fruits and a small percentage of grains and proteins.

Any safety concerns?

Following the alkaline diet strictly and forgetting protein and calorie intake can lead to health problems such as nutrient or protein deficiency, and excessive weight loss. Those with health conditions such as cancer or kidney disease should consult with their doctors before making change to their diet. The same goes for people on medication.

Your take away message

The alkaline diet is just as healthy as you can make it. You don’t have to stress your head too much on pH calculations. Rather, focus on stocking up your kitchen with fruits and vegetables including other healthy foods, while restricting consumption of processed foods.

Ciao!

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