Posted on July 17 2020
Time to Read: 6 Minutes 30 seconds.
What is an alkaline diet?
We all have a pH level, a delicate balance of acid and alkaline. This level is regulated by our body within a healthy range, to keep us alive. However, certain foods produce more acid in the body and are harder on our organs. Leading to long term health problems.
Eating a diet high in alkaline promoting foods instead is easier on the body and can promote cardiovascular health, better uptake of minerals and improved brain functioning. What are alkaline foods you wonder, no surprise, its fruits and vegetables. Meat and dairy is more acid forming than plant- based foods are. Lets explore more about this concept of an alkaline diet.
Well firstly, there’s no real science backing up this diet’s claim and most experts say, no matter what you eat the body regulates the pH level. However, there is low risk in trying out this trend. Since its ultimately promoting nutritious food. Although the diet’s don’t really have much scientific evidence with regard to changing the pH of the body, acid forming food harm the system in multiple other ways and it is always best to include more alkaline food in the diet.
Acid – Ash Theory (the theory behind alkaline diet’s)
Higher acidic food consumption resultantly produces acid ash that increases the risk of osteoporosis (osteo = bones, porosis = pore formation, a condition of broken bone). It Is particularly common among postmenopausal women and can drastically increase your risk of fractures.
This theory is based on the belief that consuming excess acid forming foods will force the body to leach calcium from the bones to buffer the effect of acid on the body. Thus, after eating a big steak or dairy heavy meal, participants test their urine to have more calcium.
While it is true that acid-forming diets, such as the standard Western diet, will cause a loss in bone mineral density, the reason is not quite bone leaching calcium.
The above theory is faulty because it ignores the function of the kidneys. The primary function of the kidney is removing acids and regulating blood pH. When bicarbonate ions from your kidneys bind to acids in your blood, they form carbon dioxide, which you breathe out, and water waste, which you pee out.
While it is true that after eating a diary heavy meal or large steak your urine will be more acidic and more calcuim is passed through your pee, this increase is not due to the buffering effect of the body.
Why acid–ash theory doesn’t hold.
Well if the above were true, just feeding people with alkaline food along with their steak should neutralise the effect and no calcium should come out with your pee. However, this does not happen. Excess calcium is still flushed out through urine. It was later studied that, this calcium wasn’t disrupted bone calcium, instead, it’s the excess calcium that people actually ate through their food itself. Meat and dairy have a lot of calcium besides being acidic. The body cannot process so much and flushes the excess out.
But then how is the body neutralising the effects of acidic foods? You will be stunned, but it is through the breakdown of muscle fibres. Here is another reason how alkaline diets’s are better to build muscle mass.
How to test if your diet is acidic or alkaline?
Dr. Michael Greger has a fantastic test for the same on his page. Here is how it is done.
Our blood gets more acidic as we age. That is why our muscle mass shrinks with age. Therefore, alkaline diets benefit adults especially.
Alkalisation of urine helps to remove uric acid and prevents the formation of kidney stone. You could just use a pH stick to test if your body is acidic or alkaline. But alternatively, use the below cabbage test.
Boil half a purple cabbage in water till the water turns purple. Once it does, strain the water and pour it over your pee in the toilet. If the water stays purple or goes towards shades of pink, your pH is acidic. You want to see blue or lighter shades of blue. If you are on purple/ pink, started eating more green leaft veggies.
A purple or pinkish shade would mean, the pH is acidic. Blue is for neutral and a sky blue is an alkaline pH.
Even though the acid-ash theory doesn’t hold, why is the alkaline diet better for you?
Vegetable proteins or purine-rich plant foods have proven to be protective against uric acid build-up and gout. A single meal of high animal protein’s and alcohol can trigger gout attacks.
Modification of diet without the use of drug treatment can effectively cure gout and is advantageous for overall wellness. We are now eating an acid-producing diet as compared to our ancestral diet. Food we binge on mindlessly today is toxic for us.
Plant heavy diet, on the other hand, is less acid-forming in the first place, as compared to animal foods. The lower sulphur contant of plant- based food’s is a reason they are not toxic for our system.
Vegan and vegetarian diets are largely alkaline. That would even mean, filling up with veggie burgers is much better for the body than meat and cheese-filled meals. However, the belief of alkaline foods help maintain pH levels is a little misguiding.
An alkaline diet is more than just a fad as Kelly Ripa puts it “I swear it is responsible for me not being in pain”. Trying this trend out can make you a little more creative with recipes and is seemingly doable.
Is alkaline water worth the cost? How to make your own alkaline water at home?
An alkaline water purifier that alkalises tap water into magical healing water, ranges anywhere between 18,000 to 30,000 in India. These machines may make a false claim, even so, the alkaline water is not one.
Though some studies do suggest that switching to drinking alkaline water might be beneficial to lower your blood glucose and bad cholesterol, there is no way of knowing yet if it is the water alone that causes this.
To enjoy this significant improvement in your body however, you really do not have to burn a hole in your pocket. A budget-friendly way is instead adding ¾ tsp of bicarbonate (baking soda) to a litre of water. Do this once a day, or simply, stop eating acidic foods such as meat/ dairy.
Sample Alkaline Diet.
Start your morning with a big glass of green smoothie. All green leafy vegetables are highly alkalising and healthy for you. Refer to the below blog to make a perfect smoothie bowl if you want a pinterest perfect breakfast:
Just add some greens to your smoothie.
Have a zucchini noodle bowl or a big salad for lunch. Feel free to add in quinoa/ millets or brown rice to make it extra filling.
End the day with a buddha bowl with lots of veggies, some zesty lemon dressing and one form of grain (rice/ barley/ quinoa etc).
Some date energy balls or herbal tea with oven roasted potatoes make for great snack options!
It is easy to fall below calories on an alkaline diet because you are eating food high in volume but not calorically dense. Make sure to add enough healthy fat sources such as avocados, olives and seed butter per meal to add some calories.
It is also essential to add in plant- based fibrous carb/ protein sources such as lentils/ beans at least twice a day.
There is no rule saying that you cannot make your traditional Indian diet of roti/ sabzi/ daal/ chawal into an alkalising diet. With a little bit of research and planning, you can make any diet into an alkalising diet.
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