What makes alkaline diet different from all others?
1. What makes alkaline diet different from all others?
Despite charts and pyramids and diets of all descriptions, 1 in 3 Americans today is seriously overweight, and almost one in four has high blood pressure. In Australia, an estimated 2.5 million Australian adults are obese (19% of males and 17% of females aged 18 years and over). Cardiovascular diseases, cancers and respiratory diseases remain the leading causes of death overall.
We are regularly bombarded with new diets, new or revised rules for what we should and shouldn’t eat, we read food labels religiously, and we are still obese, and prone to heart diseases, diabetes and high blood pressure. Obviously most diets are not working and most of us need help in the eating department.
What makes alkaline diet different from all others is that alkaline diet addresses the pH balance of our blood. pH is the unit measure for quantifying the free or active acid in a solution. The body’s acid-alkaline level is measured on a 14-point pH scale, with 7.0 being neutral. Numbers below 7.0 are acidic, while those above 7.0 are alkaline (or basic). When you are healthy, your blood pH is between 7.35 and 7.45 or very slightly alkaline.
When the body is too acidic, every cell in the body is affected. In the digestive system, acidity changes can contribute to IBS, causing a cascade of changes including yeast overgrowth, high levels of imbalanced intestinal bacteria, and food allergies.
Alkaline diet is not calling for a radical change in what we eat. Alkaline diet consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, some seeds and beans, which are highly recommended by all doctors and dieticians as healthy choice in any case.
The American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund call for choosing predominantly plant-based diets rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits, legumes, and minimally processed starchy staple foods and limiting red meat consumption, if red meat is eaten at all. The American Heart Association recommends choosing a balanced diet with an emphasis on vegetables, grains, and fruits and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada recommends using grains and vegetables instead of meat as the key focus of meals.
It is well established that diet and certain food components have a clear impact on acid-base balance. Western diets are considered ‘acid-forming’ due to the high dietary acid load and a low intake of base-forming alkaline minerals such as potassium, magnesium or calcium. Alkaline diet combines healthy foods and dishes that are rich in alkaline minerals to help you restore good health and energy levels. Because it follows a simple 80/20 rule, in favour of alkaline rich foods, you can still indulge in those forbidden foods you love from time to time.
2. Why is alkaline diet critical to your health and wellbeing?
Our ancestors did not have problems with pH balance because they mostly ate what they grew from the earth: fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes. Our diet consists predominantly of meat, sugars, caffeine, processed foods and food products with no nutrient content. For the sake of convenience, we have given up our health making it harder for our bodies to maintain the critical pH equilibrium.
When the pH in our blood is out of balance, every cell in our body suffers. All gardeners know that most plants, except specific acid-loving species, need alkaline soil to grow and if the soil becomes too acidic, plants die. Human bodies are the same. The cells absorb minerals, vitamins, electrolytes and enzymes and utilise nutrients to produce energy. Cells that live in an unbalanced environment absorb too little or too much of certain elements, causing a range of health issues, such as obesity, early aging, cancer, heart disease, allergies, fatigue and general low resistance and low immunity, making us further prone to bacterial and viral infections. Series of clinical studies have proven direct link between the cell acidity and cancer and used highly alkali metals like rubidium and cesium, as chemotherapeutic agents.
"Paying attention to acid-alkaline balance is one of the most crucial ways you can affect your health status," says Dr. Susan Lark, "It impacts immunity, digestion, bone strength, symptoms of joint disease, hormones, and the function of essential internal organs." Acid-alkaline balance is relatively easy to maintain when we're young and our regulating mechanisms are in good working order, but with each passing decade, starting in our 40s or even earlier, the efficiency of our buffering systems begins to decline."
Alkaline lifestyle has many health benefits... A study suggests that an alkaline supplement may improve function and pain in rheumatoid arthritis and may represent an easy and safe addition to the usual treatment of rheumatoid arthritis patients.
A University Hospital Freiburg study in Germany found that that the ingestion of a multi-mineral supplement is associated with both a significant increase in blood and urinary pH suggesting that what you consume may affect the alkaline-acid balance of your body and thus have an influence on your health and wellbeing.
Another health benefit is this recent study , where scientists have documented that an alkaline diet may favour the preservation of muscle mass as we age.
3. Is alkaline diet safe?
It is never a good idea to jump to a new food regimen suddenly and try to change what we eat completely and radically. Our bodies are used to certain foods and giving up on all of them would make us irritable, so we would probably give up on the diet before it has a chance to do much good.
Before starting any new diet, it is a good idea to always consult a physician. He or she will know if you have any health issues that could be affected by sudden change in your pH. But, considering the foods that are recommended for balancing your pH ? fresh vegetables, nuts and fruits, this kind of diet can only do you good.
Dr. Susan E. Browne claims that the contemporary Western diet leads to chronic, low-level acidosis, to the detriment of basic health and wellbeing. The solution, she recommends, is to return to a sustainable diet, rich in alkaline precursors.
Instead of making sudden changes to your diet it is better to slowly reduce or eliminate most acidifying foods like meats and dairy, white breads and sweets and replace them with alkalising fruits and vegetables. Meatless diet can still be enjoyable. Making a meal without or with little quantities of meat is a whole different adventure as The Alkaline Cookbook shows and illustrates.
4. Is alkaline diet just another fad diet?
Getting back to eating healthy is never a fad, and we did not invent raw food and vegetarian diet. Our ancestors had highly alkaline diet, which primarily consisted of vegetables, roots, legumes and fruits. Meat was an occasional treat, since they had to catch it first. Grains were not processed to the extent we process them today, but ground roughly and made into a flat breads and porridge.
It is our highly civilized life, dependent on technology, that made us addicted to highly-processed convenience food and things called ‘food products’ which have no nutritional value.
The foods we consume have too much sugar and salt and a range of other ingredients with long chemical names that do strange things to the food, and our bodies. It only makes sense to start eating healthy again if you want to enjoy good vibrant health.
5. How does alkaline diet work?
Alkaline diet is based on the premise that some foods, after they are processed by our bodies, leave an alkaline residue in the form of ash, and others leave acidic ash. When digested, some foods leave acidic by-products in the body (acid-forming foods); others leave alkaline by-products (alkaline-forming foods). Acid-forming foods include most high-protein foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, and most legumes (beans and peas, except lentils, which are alkaline-forming). Sugar, coffee, alcohol, and most grains are also acid-forming. Alkaline-forming foods include different vegetables and fruits, seeds, grains and some spices.
The presence of alkaline or acidic ash affects the chemistry of our body. Normal acidity (the pH) of our blood should be between 7.35 and 7.45 , which is slightly alkaline. Our cells need this alkalinity for normal healthy function. When this balance is disturbed and the blood and inter-cellar matrix become too acidic, we start feeling the effects, which can range from lack of energy to cancer.
To maintain the pH balance, many medical experts recommend that we should consume 70-80% alkaline foods and 20-30% acid forming foods. Alkaline diet is based on the 80/20 rule in favour of the alkaline rich foods. Patrick Holford, in Optimal Nutrition , explains: “...if you ensure 80 percent of your diet is optimal, you can get away with 20 percent not being as healthy, without it impacting too negatively on your overall health.” That should be a comforting thought for those health conscious people who until now have failed one diet plan after the other.
6. How the modern diet became deficient in alkaline minerals?
During the history of our civilization, we have slowly evolved from eating what the land provides to eating what is available on the shelves in the grocery stores. Our choices are now determined by the latest commercial and not on what our bodies need. We are addicted to highly processed foods, which have very little nutrient value. We consume too much meat, sugar and salt, we drink soft drinks instead of water and we eat snacks, which, except calories and various chemical additives, have no nutritional value.
Even our fresh fruits and vegetables contain residues of agricultural chemicals like fertilisers and pesticides. Slowly but surely, we have destroyed the chemical balance in our bodies. To regain our balance we need to educate ourselves about how our bodies function, and about the minerals different foods contain. But, most importantly, it requires changes in our way of life. We need to wean ourselves from our mostly meat diet and from sugary snacks and start eating what our bodies need for healthy functioning: fresh vegetables, fruits, tubers, legumes, nuts and seeds, the foods laden with alkaline producing minerals that help us age gracefully, enjoy robust energy and have strong healthy bones and teeth.
Even after careful study, no sign of bone loss can be found among the Maya Indians, who eat alkaline-rich foods. Africans have been classified as “almost immune” to osteoporotic fracture. The Chinese were found to have only one-fifth the U.S. fracture rate, despite eating as much, or nearly as much protein (but predominantly from plant sources). This is almost entirely explainable by diet and lifestyle choices.
7. Why you need to alkalise your body?
A Cambridge University study shows “the available research makes a compelling case that diet-induced acidosis, not diet-induced acidaemia, is a real phenomenon, and has a significant, clinical, long-term pathophysiological effect that should be recognised and potentially counterbalanced by dietary means.
As you age you become more acidic because you build up more acid waste due mainly to a diet poor in nutrition. Most people eat 80 percent acid foods and only 20 percent alkaline foods. However, you should reverse that in order to be healthy. To stay healthy, our diet should be 70-80% alkaline and 20-30% acid. Some theories say that the more alkaline the better, and that if our blood becomes too alkaline because of eating too much alkaline foods, our bodies will regulate it by making us lose appetite and fast, which will create acid metabolic by-products and return our blood’s pH back to normal. To be on the prudent side, it is better to keep the balance of 70-80% alkaline and 20-30% acid-forming foods. After all, being allowed to have an occasional rib steak or a strawberry cheesecake makes this diet so much more interesting!
Suffering from back pain? Don’t forget to drink plenty of water as it can help flush acid waste out of your body. Apparently drinking lots of water for back pain is beneficial because dehydration, which occurs even though not thirsty, allows acidic wastes to build up in muscles, causing pain.
Foods such as Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower and cabbage, and sulphur-rich foods such as onions and garlic, with a big emphasis on fruits and vegetables and away from animal products help restore the body’s acid/alkaline balance.
8. How acidity and alkalinity function within the body?
When the doctors want to know the state of our health, they do a blood test. The degree of acidity or alkalinity of the blood is one of things they test, because even the small deviation from the pH between 7.35 and 7.45 can seriously affect many functions of our body. Body acidity increases when the level of acidic compounds in the body rises or when the level of basic (alkaline) compounds in the body falls. The balance between acidity and alkalinity in our body is known as acid-base balance.
Although the level of acidity and alkalinity in our bodies get partially regulated by our lungs and kidneys , the foods we consume play a critical role. Prolonged eating of acid-forming foods like meats and dairy products creates high acidity in our bodies, causing many health disorders. To maintain good health, our bodies need much more alkaline foods, because we produce acid naturally as part of the metabolic processes, and they need to be neutralised with alkalising foods.
If you are an athlete, you might be convinced by scientific studies showing high correlation between alkalinity and high energy in long-distance runners.
9. How the body regulates acid/alkaline balance?
Our bodies are veritable chemical factories, constantly going through complex chemical processes just to keep us alive. All we have to do is provide fuel, in the form of air, water and food. But, we often bring in kind of artificial and ‘modified’ nutrients that disturb the fine balance our bodies create. The result is illness, or lack of energy, or general feeling of not being well.
To maintain the pH equilibrium, our lungs make us breathe faster to expel carbon dioxide, which is mildly acidic. Our kidneys also play a role, but mostly we can regulate this balance with food we consume. Foods can be acidic, alkaline or neutral. Some foods leave behind an acid ash, others an alkaline ash. It is believed that consuming alkaline-ash foods will assist our bodies to maintain a balanced pH environment.
10. What makes foods acid or alkaline?
Whether a food is going to act on our body as acid or alkaline-forming is very different from the food’s actual pH. Some foods like lemons are very acidic, but after digestion, their effect on our body is alkalising. Meat, on the other hand, tests alkaline before digestion, but is acid forming in our body.
When we digest a food, we convert it into water, carbon dioxide and an inorganic compound. This inorganic compound can be alkaline or acidic. If it contains more potassium, sodium or calcium, it is an alkaline food. If it has more phosphate, sulphur or chloride, it is an acid-forming food.
The Joy of Food: The Alkaline Way Guide, explains: “When your body metabolises fat, protein, and simple sugars, acid products remain. To reduce the acid burden, the body links these excess acids with alkaline minerals (like potassium, calcium, magnesium, and others) and excretes them. Over time, this can deplete the body of needed minerals and lead to a build-up of excess acids in your cells. This reduces the efficiency and effectiveness of your cells and tissues.”
How well a food is digested, for example, can influence the degree to which it is acid-forming or not. Many foods, including tomatoes, have preformed acids in their composition that would normally be altered during digestion. However, in a person with problematic digestion, these acids might not get transformed, and the acid-forming properties of the tomato would be increased.
Go easy on your protein. Experts maintain that the higher-protein aspect diet can lead to an acidic condition in the body or even kidney damage. Excessive protein creates an acidic environment, in the whole body, and triggers an extraction of calcium from the bones to neutralise it, potentially leading to osteoporosis.
11. Are acid-forming foods really bad for you?
Yes, if they are over consumed and not balanced with alkaline-forming foods. Acid-forming foods contain higher amounts of the minerals phosphorous, sulphur, chlorine, and iodine, they create acid residues while metabolised in the body. Alkaline-forming foods contain higher levels of calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium that help to balance the body’s pH. Dr. Elson M. Haas confirms: “The acidity in the body tissues arises from the over intake of too many acid-causing foods. This acidity causes the breakdown and degeneration of tissues overtime.”
When the body is too acidic, the friendly bacteria that normally metabolise and control sugars cannot thrive, allowing the yeast to feast on the excess sugar. To break the synergistic relationship between acid and yeast, you must increase the body’s pH.
Too much acid in our blood (acidosis) also decreases the energy production and body’s ability to repair damaged cells and it's ability to get rid of heavy metals. Body with too much acid is much more prone to diseases and in general feels lack of well being.
According to a study published in The Journal of International Medical Research, increasing pH lowers the risk of bladder infections and reduces symptoms of cystitis. We normally go for highly acidic cranberry juice, which really helps clear the infection, because it helps prevent the bacteria from clinging to the bladder walls. But, even more effective would taking 4 grams of sodium citrate, which is highly alkaline, or 5 to 10 grams of buffered vitamin C per day.
Another illness highly dependent on the alkaline-acidic balance is osteoporosis. According to the study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, when the body becomes too acidic, it releases buffering minerals into our bloodstream. One of them is calcium, taken from bones. The researchers in this study gave post-menopausal women alkalising potassium bicarbonate, with very good results. The mineral loss from bones of tested women declined and that the rate of bone formation increased.
12. How alkalising foods cleanse and detoxify your body?
When you are on a detox diet , you want to get rid of the toxins in your body which you accumulated by eating junk food, by pollution, smoke, alcohol and all sort of pills. A good detox diet will flush away harmful toxins and poisons out of your system.
Alkaline diet prevents such poisons and toxins from accumulating in your body in the first place. Alkaline diet is based on the premise that in order to keep a balanced pH level, we need to eat about 80 percent of alkaline foods and 20 percent of acid foods. In order to achieve quick cleansing and detoxifying effect, we need to go for this strongly alkalising group. The foods in the alkalising group are broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, lentils, lime juice, onions, carrots, turnips, pumpkin seeds, seaweed, sweet potatoes, ginger, kale, watermelon, and yams. You need to stay away from all meats, diary and breads. No alcohol, coffee, sodas and sugary treats are recommended.
Cheryle Hart, M.D., has researched hundreds of hangover remedies. Her top recommendation for preventing and minimising a hangover involves drinking a lot of water since alcohol is very dehydrating. Alkaline water can also help you flush toxins and waste matter out of your body thus helping you cleanse and detoxify your body faster.
13. Why you need to watch your body’s pH?
We know that our body works best in slightly alkaline environment ? in the pH of about 7.4. Normally, your body will maintain its critical acid-alkaline equilibrium by itself. However, the older we get, the more difficult it gets for our bodies to do it, so we need to assist it by watching what we eat.
It is getting more and more obvious that this chemical imbalance in our bodies is the culprit for many health problems. The reason? Diet loaded with meats, sugars, alcohol, stress, lack of exercise. We are loading ourselves with toxins and are doing nothing to get rid of them. Watching our body’s pH by choosing alkaline foods is something we can control, but it requires changes in our lifestyle. No more burgers and doughnuts. Well... sort of! Because alkaline diet follows a simple 80/20 rule in favour of alkaline foods. So you can still indulge on those forbidden foods from time to time!
14. What factors make your body acidic?
An acidic pH can occur from stress, toxic overload, and/or immune reactions or any process that deprives the cells of oxygen and other nutrients. International Journal of Integrative Medicine shows that the excess acid load promoting metabolic acidosis is acquired by:
- Dietary choices (excess protein, fat, phosphate/phosphoric acid, and sulphate/sulphuric acid);
- Maladaptation to stress (distress-induced excess cortisol and adrenaline);
- Immune hypersensitivity (delayed allergy) reactions.
In Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, Joseph Campbell “Excessive consumption of acid producing foods, results in metabolic acidosis. When this occurs, the parathyroid hormone stimulates the removal of calcium from the bones and teeth (osteolysis), to buffer or neutralize the excess acidity. After many years, such calcium loss results in depleted bone, bone weakness and structure.” So, the most common way of tipping the chemical balance of our bodies toward becoming acidic is through consuming acidifying food. Then your body leeches alkaline minerals from bones to neutralise acids.
That’s why it’s so important to include plenty of foods rich in alkaline minerals in your diet. If our diet does not contain enough minerals to compensate, a build up of acids in the cells will occur. This condition is called acidosis. The consequences of acidosis can be very serious from mild infections and allergies to malignant diseases like cancer.
15. How can you test your body’s pH?
You can measure your body’s pH levels by using paper pH strips, available at most pharmacies. The strips change colour when dipped in an urine sample, and the strips are then matched to a colour chart to determine the pH of the urine. To get an accurate reading you should do this test first thing in the morning.
Of course, there are many other ways to test your body’s acid-alkaline level, however each presents many variables. That’s why Dr. Susan Lark prefers to rely on personal health histories to identify over-acidity. In her book The Chemistry of Success: Six Secrets of Peak Performance she provides a useful questionnaire to find out whether your system is generally alkaline or overly acid:
1. After consuming fried foods, red meat, fast food, colas, or desserts, I don't feel my best.
2. I eat refined foods like white flour and sugar regularly.
3. I regularly take aspirin, antibiotics, or unbuffered vitamin C.
4. Vigorous exercise often leaves me feeling exhausted.
5. After an hour of work at my desk, I'm mentally and physically tired.
6. My muscles often feel stiff and sore.
7. I have a history of osteoporosis, arthritis, or gout.
8. I've already had my 50th birthday.
9. I frequently catch a cold or the flu.
10. I am especially susceptible to sore throats, canker sores, or food allergies.
If you have answered ‘yes’ to five or more questions, you are quite likely to be overly acid. Even one ‘yes’ could be an indicator, e.g., if you catch cold or the flu frequently.
The other thing to do is measure your waist. While that won’t give you a pH reading it should give you a quick idea how healthy you may really be. Research shows that midsection fat is associated with a higher risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. For optimal health, the ideal waist size for women is 32.5 inches (82.55 centimetres), once you hit 37 inches (93.98 centimetres), the dangers to your health increase. For men, the ideal is 35 inches (88.9 centimetres), and the dangers to your health increase once you hit 40 inches (101.6 centimetres).
16. What common health problems are triggered by acid?
The list of health issues caused by acidosis is long and scary. The older we get, the more prone we get to developing those malignant diseases.
Dr. Otto Warburg was awarded two Nobel prizes for his theories that cancer is caused by impaired cell respiration due to a lack of oxygen at the cellular level. According to Dr. Warburg, damaged cell respiration causes fermentation, resulting in hyper-acidity at the cellular level.
In 1984 A. Keith Brewer, PhD translated Warburg's theories into a practical, cost efficient treatment protocol for cancer. Brewer successfully treated 30 patients with various cancers, using cesium, nature's most alkaline mineral. The results of Brewer's work - all 30 survived.
Doctors, Susan E. Brown and Russell Jaffe have confirmed that bone responds to an acid load by dissolving its basic buffering mineral salts. They call osteoporosis as a "hidden tax of high-tech living." What’s interesting is that bone is sensitive even to tiny changes in pH. In vitrostudies document that even one-tenth of a point drop in pH does the following:
- Greatly stimulates osteoclastic activity
- Inhibits osteoblastic action; and
- Induces a multifold bone mineral loss.
According to Dr. Jeremy E. Kaslow and Ellen W. Cutler, acid forming foods can trigger breakouts, clogged pores and acne. Biological Therapy shows that hyperacidity may cause or trigger allergies.
Dr. G. T. Wrench wrote: “Diseases only attack those whose outer circumstances, particularly food, are faulty... The prevention and banishment of disease are primarily matters of food; secondarily, of suitable conditions of environment. Disease is the censor pointing out the humans, animals and plants who are imperfectly nourished.”
“...Practically all disease arising in the human organism is caused originally by the accumulation of these effete waste and end-products of digestion and of tissue changes.”
An imbalance in body’s pH can exacerbate the symptoms of IBS. Specifically the tissues in the body can become too acidic, leading to irritation and inflammation. When combating high levels of acid in foods, the blood draws alkaline minerals (such as sodium potassium, calcium, and magnesium) from the tissues in order to neutralise the acid; in this way, an acid-forming diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
Acid states appear in people with acute and chronic inflammatory and pain syndromes, congestive disorders that include recurrent infections and allergies, and the degenerative diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular problems, and diabetes.
Other problems and diseases that are caused by acid, are:
Slow digestion and elimination.
Loose and painful teeth.
"Those who fail to take the time to be healthy will ultimately have to take the time to be sick."
~ Dr. James Chappell
“There is no natural death. All deaths from so-called natural causes
are merely the end point of a progressive acid saturation.”
~ Dr. George W. Crile
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Natural Vibe Pty Ltd
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Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association. AHA Dietary Guidelines Revision 2000: A Statement for Healthcare Professionals From the Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association. Circulation 2000;102:2296-2311.