Skyrocketed to popularity by celebrity Victoria Beckham, the alkaline diet is one of the breakout diets that have become increasingly popular due to its promise of improving energy levels and memory, weight loss, and ability to prevent headaches, cancer, heart disease, insomnia, bloating, and muscle pain. But does this diet work and is it the right choice for you? Jump in and discover all you need to know about the alkaline diet now!
What Is The Alkaline Diet?
The alkaline diet, also commonly known as the alkaline ash diet or alkaline acid diet, is a fad diet popularized by The Honestly Healthy Alkaline Programme, based on the book, both of which were created by nutritional therapist Vicki Edgson and organic chef Natasha Corrett. This diet emphasizes foods low in acid and high in alkaline, including whole fruits and vegetables, raw foods, green juices, beans, and nuts. Foods that are highly acidic, and therefore forbidden, include high-sodium foods, processed foods and grains, too much meat and animal protein, added sugars, and milk.
The diet is supposed to promote incredible health benefits including helping participants lose weight and improve energy levels while reducing their risk of developing arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. The main pitch behind this diet is for individuals to eat mainly alkaline foods that keep the body’s pH levels between 7.35 and 7.45, with the ultimate aim being to eat eighty percent alkaline foods and twenty percent acidic foods to maintain balanced pH levels.
The Science Behind The Alkaline Diet
Before diving into the science behind this diet and its health benefits, first, a little chemistry about the body’s pH level. Essentially, the alkaline diet helps to balance the pH level of the body’s fluids, including blood and urine, as an individual’s pH level is partially determined by the mineral density of the foods consumed. A pH level measures the amount of acid or alkaline something has, as a pH of zero is completely acidic, and a pH of fourteen is completely alkaline, whereas a pH of seven is neutral and where everyone should aim to be. These levels vary throughout the body, as blood is slightly alkaline with a pH of 7.35 to 7.45, whereas the stomach is highly acidic for breaking down food particles, at a pH of 3.5 or less. Urine changes depending on what an individual eats, and this is how the body keeps the level in the blood consistent.
The Science Behind It Continued
A study published in the Journal of Environmental Health discovered balancing the body’s pH with an alkaline diet can be highly beneficial in reducing the number of fatalities associated with multiple chronic diseases including hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, vitamin D deficiency, and low bone density. How does the alkaline diet work? Research has proven diets consisting of highly alkaline foods result in a more alkaline urine pH level, which helps to protect healthy cells and balance essential mineral levels. The alkaline diet has also been proven to prevent plaque from forming in the blood vessels, stop calcium from accumulating in urine, preventing kidney stones, aids in building stronger bones, and reducing muscle wasting or spasms.
It’s All About The Food
As previously mentioned, this diet consists of mostly whole fruits and vegetables, soybeans and tofu, and some nuts, seeds, and legumes, which are all alkaline-promoting foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables that also promote an alkaline-rich diet include mushrooms, citrus, dates, raisins, spinach, grapefruit, tomatoes, avocado, summer black radish, alfalfa grass, barley grass, cucumber, and kale. Jicama, wheat grass, broccoli, oregano, garlic, ginger, green beans, endive, cabbage, celery, red beet, watermelon, figs, and ripe bananas are also alkaline-rich foods. Ideally, participants are encouraged to consume a good portion of their produce raw, as well as organic, as uncooked fruits and vegetables are believed to be biogenic or 'life-giving,' as cooking foods deplete alkalizing minerals found in these foods.
Plant-based proteins that are part of this diet include almonds, navy beans, and lima beans. The majority of other beans are great choices for protein, as meats are largely discouraged to be ingested. Alkaline water that has a pH of nine to eleven, such as distilled water is encouraged, as opposed to tap water or purified bottled water. Green drinks made from green vegetables and grasses rich in chlorophyll are highly encouraged to help alkalize the blood as well.
Unfortunately, a lot of common and favorite foods for many individuals are forbidden when following this diet. Specifically, high-sodium foods, such as processed foods, contain loads of sodium chloride, or table salt, which constricts blood vessels and creates acidity within the body. Others include cold cuts and conventional meats, eggs, processed cereals, peanuts and walnuts, and caffeinated drinks and alcohol. Oats and whole wheat products, such as pasta, rice, bread, and packaged grain products, are restricted as all grains create acidity in the body, and most Americans ingest most of their plant-based food in the form of processed corn or wheat. Milk is even forbidden, as calcium-rich dairy products cause some of the highest rates of osteoporosis, as it creates acidity in the body.
Truth be told, following the alkaline diet can be challenging for many individuals as a lot of favorite foods allowed in moderation on other diets are strictly forbidden. Protein is limited to plant-based sources such as beans and tofu, meaning individuals will have to exert more effort to ensure they are getting enough protein and calcium into their diet due to its restrictions.
Does It Work?
For starters, the alkaline diet claims to help the body maintain its blood pH level and improve the overall acidity within the body. Honestly, nothing an individual eats is going to substantially change the pH level of their blood, as the body constantly works to keep this level balanced. However, the foods this diet recommends are healthy and support healthy weight loss, as the diet revolves around lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, plant-based proteins, and water. Avoiding processed foods, sugar, and alcohol are all great ways to lose weight as well.
Regarding the other health claims that the alkaline diet promotes, such as a decrease in the risk of developing cancer, arthritis, and heart disease, there is some evidence a low-acidic diet high in fruits and vegetables can help. A produce-rich diet has also proven to prevent kidney stones, keep bones and muscles strong, improve heart health and brain function, while also reducing lower back pain and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The Proof Continued
The alkaline diet has proven to also help individuals lose weight, which is incredible news for heart health, as this helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease. A healthy weight is also essential for preventing and treating conditions such as diabetes and osteoarthritis. Some studies have found the alkaline diet can make certain chemotherapy drugs more effective or less toxic. However, the diet has been proven able to help prevent cancer. Many alkaline diets also fail to include a significant factor in weight loss and healthy living: exercise. A good fitness regime should be implemented into any healthy eating plan, as the American Heart Association and the CDC recommend an individual gets at least a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise every week.
Overall, the alkaline diet promotes a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and plant-based proteins, that can be highly beneficial for the right individual. It might be a challenging diet, but the facts prove it is beneficial and promotes healthy living!