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Go Alkaline for Better Health — an article on the Smart Living Network
February 9, 2010 at 3:44 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Go Alkaline for Better Health


Though more research still needs to be done, the alkaline diet, or the acid/alkaline diet is one that has potential to help many people. To understand the concept, one must first develop an appreciation for pH both in the body and in foods. Briefly, the pH scale measures acidic and alkaline content of any substance - both our body and foods can be either acidic or alkaline foods. The pH level of our foods and bodies can have a significant impact on health, with both having dramatic and opposite effects. Alkaline foods include most fruits and vegetables. Acidic foods include most meats, cheeses, and sugary breads - the foods Americans tend to eat WAY too much of. Doctors have long worried about the effects of the standard American diet, which is packed with more acidic foods than alkaline. Almost all health professionals will tell you to limit or avoid these foods. The alkaline diet presents a new way to understand why.

The alkaline diet itself looks quite similar to many other diets out there. It's all about eating whole, fresh foods, mainly fruits and vegetables, and avoiding excess meat, cheese and breads. Ideally, with the alkaline diet your ratio is 80% fruits and veggies and 20% meat, cheeses and bread. The most noticeable difference from other diets is that instead of focusing on calories or fat, you're concentrating on pH levels. This can provide a welcome change, as most alkaline foods are already healthy in calories and fats. It's important to note that the alkaline diet does not aim to to change the blood's pH levels, as some skeptics suggest. The misunderstanding comes from a method that involves testing urine and saliva for pH levels. This method is a good way to check the amount of acidic stress on your body, but is not reflective of blood pH by far. The body will naturally regulate blood pH to a level of about 7.4 using the lungs and kidneys, as well as blood buffers such as hemoglobin and proteins. If the body failed to do so, and blood pH dropped below 7.2 or rose above 7.6, death would be imminent.

Knowledgeable proponents of the alkaline diet explain that while the body does naturally regulate its own blood pH, it does so at a cost - for example, by leaching essential alkaline minerals from internal sources, such as bones. In fact, new studies are being done on the effect of alkaline diets on individuals with osteoporosis. Says Crystal Phend of MedPage Today, "Increasing alkaline content of the diet with bicarbonate supplementation significantly reduced levels of the bone turnover markers urinary N-telopeptide and calcium excretion."

Because fruits and vegetables are metabolized to bicarbonate, a dietary approach may have a similar effect. The typical American diet produces a pH imbalance in the body as protein and cereal grains metabolize to acidic compounds. Aging reduces the body's ability to get rid of these acids because of declining renal function and capacity to excrete hydrogen ions. One way the body may counteract acidity is by breaking down bone to release minerals such as calcium, phosphates, and alkaline salts into the blood.

Skeptics worry that proponents look at the alkaline diet as a cure-all for every disease without the research to back it up, and it's true that there is still almost no research on the alkaline diet. However, there is research to suggest that positive and negative ions - which are the actual elements pH measures - do have an effect on the thyroid gland. The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located in the throat, is responsible for the release of important hormones and has been tied to immunity or lack of it. Exposure to an over-abundance of positively charged ions (which occurs when the body is burdened with too many acidic foods, and can even occur as a result of hot, dry environmental conditions) has been linked to depression, nausea, insomnia, irritability, exhaustion, migraine, and asthma. Conversely, exposure to negatively charged ions which occur with an abundance of alkaline foods (and can occur in wet conditions such as showers, rain and waterfalls) have been found to reduce bacteria in the air and benefit those who are ill.

There is little negative to be said about the alkaline diet (besides the fact that is still so new and lacking in supportive research), and a whole lot to suggest that an alkaline diet is not only a healthful way to eat, but with proper supportive research, may change the way we understand the way foods affect our bodies. Here's a list of some of the top alkalizing foods to add your diet, along with top acidic foods to limit or avoid.


  • Summer Radish
  • Wheat, Barley, and Kamut Grasses
  • Cucumber
  • Alfalfa and Radish Sprouts
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Tomato
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Spinach
  • Lemons and Limes
  • Flax Seed and Olive Oil
  • Almonds
  • Watermelons


  • Vinegar
  • Liquor, Beer, Wine
  • Soda/Pop
  • Pork, Veal, Beef
  • Processed Fruit Juice
  • Artificial Sweeteners, White Sugar
  • Coffee
  • Fermented Foods and Cheese
  • Pistachios, Peanuts, Cashews
  • White Bread
  • Mayonnaise
  • Corn Oil
  • Margarine, and Butter
  • Cream

Lack of randomized, double blind studies aside, an honest look at nutritional alkaline and anti-nutrient acidic foods makes the alkaline diet a no-brainer!


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