Alkaline Foods

  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Bananas
  • Black olives
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Butter
  • Cabbage
  • Chestnuts
  • Cold pressed oils
  • Cucumber
  • Dates
  • D-Ribose
  • Green Tea
  • Green and yellow beans
  • Mangos
  • Potatoes
  • Pear Concentrate
  • Raisins
  • Salad greens
  • Sprouts (all)
  • Sweet apricots
  • Sweet pepper
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Xylitol
  • Zucchini

Take this list with you when you go shopping and purchase 80% of your groceries from this list!

Very Alkaline

  • Artichokes
  • Beet greens
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Celery stalks
  • Chicory
  • Dandelion
  • Escarole
  • Fennel
  • Green cabbage
  • Green beans
  • Lettuce
  • Mache
  • Red beets
  • Red cabbage
  • Raw milk
  • Salad greens
  • Spinach

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The Alkaline Diet

There are many different diet trends making headlines today, all of which have their own individual benefits and drawbacks. The alkaline diet has been made popular as of late due to its promotion by big celebrity names, such as Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, and Victoria Beckham. The idea behind the Alkaline diet (or acid-alkaline diet) is that through diet, you can change the pH levels in your body. When you consume food, it does more than satisfy hunger or cravings for a particular taste.

Did you know that a few things happen within the body that has a direct impact on how your body functions? First, when you eat, your body creates energy through a process called metabolism. Metabolism is a chemical reaction during which the body combines the calories in the food or beverage you have consumed with the help of oxygen, which is already in the body to create energy. This process is extremely important as it is required to maintain life! However, as with many chemical processes, this happens in a slow and controlled way.

Did you know that metabolism acts as the fire in your fireplace? Once all the logs have completed burning, then what is left behind is ash, which is largely unusable. After the process of food breakdown has been completed, then there are the leftover components, commonly referred to as metabolic waste or ash.

These waste products cannot be used by the body as they are either surplus (the body already has enough) or are toxic, and they must be excreted from the body. This waste is either alkaline, neutral, or acidic in nature. This is where the alkaline diet comes into play. As noted above, the idea behind the alkaline diet is that the foods you eat will control the alkalinity or your body’s acidity, more specifically the ash. If the ash is too acidic due to the foods that are consumed, it is thought that the body becomes more vulnerable to disease or illness as alkaline ash is thought to be protective in nature. So, by consuming more alkaline foods, you are protecting your body with your healthy dietary choices.

How do you classify a healthy pH level?

The alkaline diet is said to impact your overall health by impacting the pH levels of the body; so, what is a healthy pH level? Simply stated, pH is the measurement of the acidity or level of alkaline. Standard pH values range from 0 being the most acidic to 14, which is the most alkaline. Further broken down, a substance is considered acidic if the pH value falls between 0.0 and 6.9.

A neutral pH will have a value of 7.0. Finally, a substance is considered alkaline if the pH value falls between 7.1 and 14. Having said that, it is important to understand what is considered a normal pH in the body. Unfortunately, this is not a simple question with a simple answer. The pH varies widely throughout the body, so what is normal for one part of the body may be too acidic or too alkaline for another. For example, the stomach is generally highly acidic (with a pH of 2-3.5), whereas the pH of the body’s blood is always more alkaline and characterized with a pH level of around 7.4.

Can food change the pH level of the body’s blood?

Unfortunately, many who choose to follow an alkaline diet do so under the false premise that it is possible to change the pH level of the body’s blood. It is argued that cancer cells grow more readily in acidic conditions, so, if the pH level of the body’s blood could be impacted, then a person would be less likely to develop cancer. Unfortunately, it is not possible to change the pH level of the body’s blood through diet, and significant alterations to the overall alkaline nature of the blood could be life-threatening.

The pH levels of saliva and urine can and do change based on diet, metabolism, and a variety of other factors. Those who follow the alkaline diet are encouraged to monitor the pH level of their urine to ensure it remains alkaline. One of the ways the body maintains and regulates its pH is to use the process of urination to excrete acids from the body. Unfortunately, the timeframe required for the body to complete its metabolic processes and for the body to excrete the excess waste is large, and therefore urine is not the best indicator for the body’s overall pH level.

Do acidic foods contribute to Osteoporosis?

Many proponents of the alkaline diet believe that consumption of too many acid-forming foods can contribute to OsteoporosisOsteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that signifies a reduction in the mineral content within the bones, specifically calcium. Although Osteoporosis can impact anyone, at virtually any age, it is most common among post-menopausal women.

An individual with Osteoporosis is much more likely to suffer from bone fractures than someone who has healthy bones. Followers of the alkaline diet believe that in order to maintain a constant pH, your body needs the important alkaline minerals, of which calcium is one, so that your body may buffer the acids in the consumed acid-forming foods. This theory also follows that a western diet, which is considered highly acid-forming, will cause a loss in bone mineral density.

Unfortunately, this theory negates the job of the kidneys in the regulation and removal of acids from the body. The kidneys play a very important role in regulating pH because they produce bicarbonate ions that neutralize blood acids. As a result, the body is able to manage the pH in the blood.

Additionally, your respiratory system plays a role in pH regulation in the blood. When the bicarbonate ions bind to the acids in the blood, they form a combination of carbon dioxide and water, which are excreted from the body by exhaling and urinating, respectively.

Finally, the acid-ash hypothesis, or the idea that acid-producing foods lead to Osteoporosis, does not address one of the main driving forces behind the development of Osteoporosis, a loss in collagen from the bones. Interestingly enough, this loss of collagen is linked to low acid levels in the body, specifically, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and orthosilicic acids.

Several clinical trials have shown no impact on calcium levels in the body from the consumption of acid-forming foods.

Do alkaline foods help to prevent cancer?

One of the biggest draws or selling points of the alkaline diet is its potential to prevent or cure cancer and help achieve a positive outcome of chemotherapy. As mentioned above, there is an argument that cancer cells only grow in acidic conditions, and thus, cancer can feasibly be treated (or potentially cured) through an alkaline diet. There are a few reasons why this thought process may be inaccurate. While the alkaline diet has been widely studied, none of those studies have produced scientific evidence to support this claim, and no studies have directly tested this acclaimed hypothesis.  

First, diet does not significantly increase or lower the pH level of the body’s blood. As previously mentioned, drastic alterations in the pH level of the body’s blood could be fatal and are not easily accomplished by altering our food intake. But, for a moment, let us consider the thought that food choice could indeed modify the pH level of the body’s blood or other body tissues. This would also have a minimal impact on the growth of cancer cells as they are not limited solely to acidic conditions. Cancer does not grow just in the blood. Cancer tends to grow in the normal blood tissues, which have a slightly alkaline pH level, and therefore cancer does not need an acidic condition to develop, grow, and thrive. Yes, cancerous tumors do accelerate their growth rate in acidic conditions, but they create the acidic conditions themselves, not the other way around.

It is important to note that the American Institute for Cancer Research does not support claims around cancer and the alkaline diet. They have stated that the acidic or alkaline nature of the food one consumes is not important when it comes to the human body’s chemistry and lowering our risk for cancer and other chronic conditions. Instead, a largely plant-based diet with a focus on consuming lots of fruits, vegetables, and grains is more important.

Which foods are recommended on the alkaline diet?

The alkaline diet is designed around the pH levels of specific foods. Like many other diets, there are slightly differing versions of the diet, and each version may allow for slightly different foods. If you are following an alkaline diet, you will want to consume primary alkaline foods, a limited number of neutral foods, and try to avoid acid foods altogether. So, what foods fall into each food group? Below is a brief list of some foods and their categories.

Acid foods: Meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, dairy, eggs, grains, alcohol, peanuts, walnuts, processed foods, soda, and coffee.

Neutral foods: starches, sugars, and natural fats

Alkaline foods: Fruits, legumes, vegetables, seeds, tofu.

In conclusion, the alkaline diet is quite healthy, but depending on your current health condition(s) may not be recommended. The alkaline diet is not for everyone. Most importantly, if you are considering making a significant change to your diet, you should discuss it with your doctor. Removing or adding specific food groups can be dangerous for some individuals. There are indeed people who should avoid this diet, as is the case with many different diets such as keto, paleo, Atkins, etc. The alkaline diet promotes the intake of healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, while encouraging a restriction on processed foods, alcohol, sugar, carbohydrates, and soda.

The alkaline diet may be beneficial for individuals with kidney disease as it is low in protein and could raise the pH of the urine. These two elements combined may slow the course of the kidney disease,

Also, individuals with heart disease could benefit from following the alkaline diet because the alkaline diet is naturally low fat and the calories could help to promote a healthy body weight and lower other heart disease-related risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Reduction in body weight, a natural side effect of reducing one’s intake of carbohydrates, sugars, and processed foods, is also important for treating diabetes and osteoarthritis.

Following an alkaline diet may be challenging for many. While a lot of other diet plans allow for favorite foods to be consumed in moderation, these favorite foods are an absolute no-no for those who follow the alkaline diet. These prohibited favorite foods may include meat, bread, sweets, and dairy products like ice cream and cheese. Protein intake is also very limited. Where some other diets allow for consumption of meat and nut products, the alkaline diet requires one’s protein intake to come from plant-based sources, such as beans and tofu-which is not always a fan favorite. Eating out or eating while traveling is also monumental challenges.

Finally, the alkaline diet does not require or promote a regular exercise routine, which, depending on your medical conditions may not be beneficial. As with any diet change, it is suggested you contact your doctor to discuss your plans and determine if the change is a healthy choice that would be right for you.

Links to important articles used in this post: