What Is the Alkaline Diet? Principles, Plans, Pros & Cons

What goals and expectations can you reasonably have following a diet of this kind?

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By Manu

alkaline diet

The alkaline diet is aimed at rebalancing the body’s acid-base ratio, a crucial aspect for maintaining good health. Over time, an excess of acidity can lead to various issues such as headaches, fatigue, skin problems, susceptibility to infections, and many more. Therefore, it’s important to consume alkaline foods to help balance acidity and, simultaneously, maintain or restore the acid-base equilibrium.

In this article, we will delve into the basic principles of the alkaline diet, explaining in detail the alkaline foods to prioritize and acidic foods to avoid or consume in limited amounts.

What is the Alkaline Diet?

The alkaline diet is a nutritional regimen that emphasizes the intake of “alkaline” foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, tubers, nuts, and whole grains. It restricts the consumption of “acidic” foods, including refined grains, meats, cheeses, coffee, alcoholic beverages, and carbonated drinks.

Developed by naturopath and nutritionist Robert O. Young, the diet is based on understanding the pH value of our bodies. The core concept is that our body functions like a machine and, for optimal performance, requires balance. Achieving this balance involves acting on the body’s pH.

Modern diets, characterized by refined, processed foods, excessive sugar, and animal protein consumption, lead to an acidifying effect on the body. To restore the pH to the proper alkalinity and rebalance overall health, it is crucial to establish an acid-base equilibrium by favoring the consumption of alkaline foods.

Specifically, the alkaline diet recommends the following distribution:

This distribution brings direct and indirect benefits, because it helps to correct certain imbalances in today’s lifestyle.

What is pH and Why is it Important?

Understanding the importance of the alkaline diet requires grasping the concept of pH. pH is the measurement unit on a scale from 0 to 14 that determines whether an organic liquid is acidic or basic.

In practice:

  • pH equal to 7 is neutral
  • pH above 7 is basic
  • pH below 7 is acidic

Acidity indicates an excessive presence of hydrogen ions in the body, leading to various disorders over time. Factors like incorrect diet, smoking, stress, medications, alcohol, dehydration, or a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to the accumulation of acids in the body.

What is the Optimal pH?

For optimal health, the human body functions best in a slightly alkaline state, with a pH range of 7.1 to 7.5. The ideal value is considered to be between 7.39 and 7.41.

Maintaining an alkaline pH requires a healthy lifestyle that supports the natural elimination of accumulated acids in the body.

How to Determine Body Acidity Levels

Calculating one’s degree of acidity is straightforward. Using pH test strips available at pharmacies, measure the pH of your urine over several days for a reliable average. If the body shows signs of acidity, it’s possible to alkalize it by choosing the right foods.

Why Alkalize the Body?

To maintain good health, the human body requires balance, as an excess of basic or acidic substances can harm health. Consuming a sufficient quantity of alkaline foods daily not only helps correct pH levels but also:

  • Prevent osteoporosis by countering calcium loss
  • Maintain renal function, enabling the elimination of excess hydrogen ions
  • Counteract muscle weakness
  • Prevent the formation of urinary stones

What to Eat for an Alkaline Diet?

Alkaline or alkalizing foods are those with residues not metabolized by the body that have a basic pH. These foods have a low Potential Renal Acid Load (PRAL).

Alkaline foods include:

  • Whole grains, millet, and quinoa
  • Vegetables, cabbage, Savoy cabbage, broccoli, leafy greens like chard, lettuce, and spinach
  • Tubers and roots such as potatoes, turnips, beets, carrots, and radishes
  • Fruits, with an emphasis on citrus fruits, apples, pineapples, grapes, melons, and avocados
  • Legumes like peas, chickpeas, and lentils
  • Nuts and dried fruits
  • Oilseeds
  • Spices and herbs like curry, sage, ginger, and rosemary

What to Avoid or Consume Moderately in an Alkaline Diet?

Foods rich in acid that should be limited include:

  • Bread and pasta made with refined flours
  • Rice
  • Barley
  • Gluten-containing cereals
  • Refined sugar and honey
  • Meat and processed meats
  • White beans
  • Spelt
  • Oats
  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Artichokes
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Garlic
  • Cheese and dairy products
  • Fish and seafood
  • Eggs
  • Ready-made foods
  • Fermented foods
  • Yeasts
  • Foods cooked or heated in the microwave
  • Coffee
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Carbonated drinks

What are the Most Alkaline Foods?

Primarily, alkalizing foods include whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Leafy greens, broccoli, and cabbage-family vegetables are especially alkaline. Examples of alkaline foods include:

  • Nuts
  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

What are Alkaline Vegetables?

Most vegetables are alkaline and should constitute about half of the plate. Leafy greens, cabbage-family vegetables, and roots and tubers like turnips, carrots, beets, and radishes are rich in minerals and contribute to the alkalinity of the diet.

alkaline diet
Some of the healthiest alkaline foods

What are Acidic Cheeses?

Fresh cheeses, melted cheese, stringy cheeses, and aged or fermented cheeses are considered acidic. The same applies to milk, cream, and butter.

Which Grains are Alkaline?

Millet, quinoa, rye, and buckwheat are alkaline grains. Contrary to popular belief, amaranth is acidifying due to the tannins it contains.

What are Alkaline Beverages?

Natural water is the most suitable beverage for an alkaline diet. Vegetable or fruit juices, such as freshly squeezed juices, extracts, and smoothies, are alkaline due to their high mineral content. For variety, flavored teas and herbal infusions with mint, turmeric, or ginger can be chosen.

What are Acidic Drinks?

To maintain a proper acid-base balance, it’s advisable to avoid:

  • Coffee
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Carbonated and sugary drinks

As alternatives, prefer:

Occasionally, tea or beer can be consumed.

How to Quickly Alkalize the Body?

If you notice your body trending towards acidity, start incorporating alkalizing “superfoods” immediately. Examples include:

  • Baking soda
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Sea salt
  • Umeboshi plums
  • Aloe vera juice
  • Seaweeds: wakame, kombu, arame, spirulina, kelp, and dulse
  • Borage
  • Flaxseed oil and seeds
  • Purslane
  • Sprouts
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric

Alkaline Diet Breakfast Examples

Here are some alkaline diet breakfast ideas:

  • Muesli with soy milk and fresh fruit
  • Puffed quinoa with oat milk and fresh fruit
  • Oat flakes with coconut milk and peanut butter
  • Oatmeal with mixed berries

Alkaline Diet Meal Examples

Lunch and dinner ideas for the alkaline diet include:

  • Pumpkin soup
  • Quinoa with vegetables
  • Roast chicken and beets
  • Miso soup with tofu
  • Salmon and roasted vegetables
  • Salad with lettuce, avocado, cucumber, and almonds, dressed with extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar

Alkaline Fruits

The body can metabolize all types of fruits as alkaline. Therefore, any fruit can be consumed without significant issues. Dried fruits are also excellent due to their high mineral content.

Alkaline Nuts

Rich in vitamins, minerals, unsaturated fatty acids, and antioxidants, nuts are excellent foods. For maintaining acid-base balance, choose:

  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

Alkaline Vegetables

Most vegetables are alkaline, and they should constitute about half of the plate. Leafy greens, cabbage-family vegetables, and roots and tubers like turnips, carrots, beets, and radishes are particularly alkaline.

Alkaline Grains

Millet, quinoa, rye, and buckwheat are alkaline grains.

Contrary to popular belief, amaranth is acidifying due to the tannins it contains.

Alkaline Beverages

Natural water is the most suitable beverage for an alkaline diet. Vegetable or fruit juices, such as freshly squeezed juices, extracts, and smoothies, are alkaline due to their high mineral content. For variety, flavored teas and herbal infusions with mint, turmeric, or ginger can be chosen.

Disclaimer: Before making significant dietary changes, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or nutritionist to ensure that the chosen diet aligns with individual health needs and conditions.

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