This article was republished with permission from fitnessrepublic.com
Early research indicates that an alkaline diet can help you lose weight and improve your health. Here’s what you need to know about alkaline foods and an alkaline diet.
What is Alkaline?
A compound, like food or water, is considered alkaline if its pH measures greater than 7. Levels of pH (potential hydrogen) tell you how acidic or alkaline food is. Since a pH of 7 is neutral, 0 pH indicates complete acidity and oxygen deprivation, while 14 equals totally alkaline and oxygen rich.
Human blood measures slightly alkaline; the normal range lands between 7.35 and 7.45. However, other areas of the body maintain various levels of pH. For example, the stomach is quite acidic, measuring 3.5 or lower; it needs this acid to breakdown foods.
When blood pH levels move below 6.8 or above 7.8, cells don’t function well, and begin to die; basically, the body cannot heal itself in this state, partially because the body can’t efficiently process vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
Some professionals test urine, leading you to believe that its pH level equates to your blood pH level. But according to the docs at WebMD., it’s apples and oranges. What you consume does, indeed, alter the urine’s pH level, but your body works hard to keep the blood’s pH level within the 7.35 to 7.45 zone by eliminating excess acidity, which ultimately shows up in the urine.
What the test can tell you is how acidic your current diet is. If it’s quite acidic, that means your body may be working “overtime” to maintain the blood’s normal pH. One of the ways it does this is by utilizing magnesium, a nutrient your tissues and joints need to maintain healthy functioning.
So, your body may be “robbing” your tissues and joints of needed magnesium and other alkaline minerals because it’s taking care of an over-acidic situation; less magnesium may result in more pain and inflammation, and that could be one reason people feel better on an alkaline diet (though the body is complex, so there are plenty of other reasons).
The Case for Alkaline Foods
Researchers have found evidence that foods measuring higher in alkaline and lower in acid can prevent problems like lower back pain, type 2 diabetes, kidney stones and colon cancer and cardiovascular risks.
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When it comes to diet, most people err on the side of an acidic imbalance. Imbalanced pH can result in a plethora of problems, including hormone issues, weight gain (or excessive loss), low energy, brittle bones, slow digestion, tumor growth and more.
According to the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, an alkaline diet may help reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that a diet concentrated on fruits and vegetables, including reduced acid-forming foods, helped preserve muscle mass in older populations.
The Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology cited studies showing improvement in lower back pain with alkaline mineral supplementation.
What Foods are Alkaline?
Many people feel better on the alkaline diet because, in essence, it promotes consumption of healthy foods, while discouraging use of alcohol and caffeine.
Most vegetables, except for corn, lentils, olives and winter squash, and most fruits, except for blueberries, canned fruits, cranberries, currants, plums and prunes, create more alkaline in the body. “Alkaline foods” also include tofu, soybeans and some nuts (for example, peanuts or walnuts are acidic), seeds and legumes.
In terms of proteins, foods like almonds, chestnuts, millet, fermented tempeh and whey protein powder are your best bets.
No-no’s include many food allergy triggers, such as dairy, eggs, peanuts, seafood and most grains and processed foods.
The kinda quirky thing about “alkaline foods” is that a food’s actual measurement of pH doesn’t tell you if it’s an “alkaline food” or an “acidic food.” For example, lemons test acidic, but the end result of digesting lemons actually produces an alkaline effect. On the other hand, most meat products measure alkaline on the kitchen counter but create acidic residue in the body.
Oh, and by the way: Foods and drinks aren’t the only things that can contribute to acidic pH levels. Stress, environmental toxins or anything that reduces oxygen, vitamins or minerals in the body can increase acid.
As with any diet or exercise regimen, you should talk to your doctor. And, don’t worry: not every morsel you eat needs to be considered an alkaline food. According to a New Zealand company called Altered States Ltd., if you’re working on healing an acidic body, your diet should consist of about 80 percent foods that produce alkaline and about 20 percent acid-forming foods. To maintain health, they say you can drop the alkaline forming foods to approximately 60 percent.
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