Does an alkaline diet work?
“May be, but not for the reason it claims,” say scientists.
However, several celebrities, especially those from Hollywood; swear by it. The reasons attributed for its success vary from person to person, depending on their health condition. A lady claimed that she could get rid of PCOS (poly-cystic ovary syndrome) by eating alkaline foods, while another person seems to have cured his knee pains by reducing acidifying foods.
An alkaline diet consists of plenty of vegetables with a limited number of fruits, supported by adequate protein and a reduced number of whole grains.
These ingredients may sound familiar because these are the same ingredients that made up the Sattvic diet. The Ayurveda recommended it three thousand years ago for the sedentary people. Although the alkaline diet has only qualified support from the evidence based on scientific facts, it has plenty of anecdotal support and solid roots in Ayurveda.
Before we delve into the process by which the alkaline diet confers so many health benefits, let us understand the chemistry behind it. Food we eat can be divided into acid forming or alkali forming groups. These two groups are measured on a pH scale that ranges from 0 to 14. Water has a pH level of 7 and is denoted as neutral. Any food that has a pH value below 7 is considered acidic and the food that has pH value above 7 is considered alkaline. In nutrition we are not concerned with acidity or alkalinity of the food. Instead, we are concerned with the effect of the food on the body. For example, lemons are very acidic. However, the end products they produce after digestion are alkaline. Thus, lemons are alkaline forming food. Similarly, meat is alkaline outside the body but leaves acidic residue in the body, therefore, it’s classified as acid forming food.
Effect of pH On Our Health:
Our body’s pH value plays a major role in our well-being. Therefore, balancing the pH is a major step towards our well-being and health. The pH value in the body differs from organ to organ. Blood is slightly alkaline, with a pH between 7.35 and 7.45. Below or above this range is risky and signifies that the body has a disease.
Blood with a pH value of 6.9, which is only slightly acidic, can kill a person.
The stomach is very acidic, with a pH of 1.35 to 3.5, so it can break down proteins. The pH of urine changes, depending on what one eats. This is how the body keeps the pH level in the blood steady. Besides diet, a complex system involving kidneys and lungs keep the blood pH levels steady.
Some of the factors that can alter blood pH are:
- Acid forming diet
- Emotional stress
- An overload of toxic products
- Deprivation of nutrients to the cells
The body will try to correct the pH by using alkaline minerals. If the regular diet does not contain enough alkalizing minerals, a build up of acids in cells will occur.
This may have the following adverse effects on health:
- It may decrease the body’s ability to absorb minerals and other nutrients.
- It may decrease the energy production in the cells.
- It may decrease the body’s ability to repair damaged cells.
- Heavy metals may not be detoxified fully.
- Tumor cells may survive.
- It may make the body susceptible to fatigue and illness.
For good health, a regular diet should be made up of 60% alkaline forming foods and 40% acid forming foods. If one wants to restore health, diet should consist of 80% alkaline forming foods and 20% acid forming foods.
Some of the alkaline forming food are:
- Fresh vegetables
- Most fruits
- Spices, herbs and seasonings
- Majority of the nuts.
Some of the acids forming food are:
- Grains including pulses
How does alkalizing your diet help?
- Alkalizing food like fresh vegetables has more potassium than acidifying food like grains. Our body is designed to function with a potassium to sodium (K/Na) ratio of 10:1. But at present, our diet, thanks to the added salt and a reduced salad consumption; has a K/Na ratio of 1: 3. Since anti-cancer nutrients use a potassium path way to enter the cells, the adverse K/Na ratio may be one of the reasons for the high cancer rate off late.
- Improved K/Na ratio may benefit bone health, reduce muscle wasting, as well as mitigate other chronic diseases such as hypertension and strokes.
- Increased acid load of the acidifying diet results in very little change in blood pH levels, but may result in many changes in the urinary chemistry, increasing the risk for kidney stones and a decrease in the vaginal health.
- The Alkalizing diet increases the growth hormone, which may prevent heart problems and even Alzheimer’s.
- Alkalizing diet increases the intracellular magnesium levels, which is required for the functioning of many enzymes and hormonal systems.
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- We help you transition into a healthy active lifestyle comfortably by incorporating appropriate food groups
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