All types of diets have come in and out of vogue over the past couple of decades. From high‑protein to low-fat, they all claim that they will help with weight loss, improved health and increased energy. However, many don’t actually give an increased sense of wellness and also prove to be unsustainable in the long term.
Thankfully the alkaline diet doesn’t compare to these fads and actually shouldn’t be referred to as a diet, but a way of life. It certainly doesn’t mean you can’t eat out with friends or enjoy an ice cream every now and again. Although it sounds like it requires a total dietary overhaul, following an alkaline diet is about eating for wellness, and aiming to make the best choices for your body in the circumstances. It’s not about being perfect.
What is alkaline food?
The term alkaline is based on a substance's pH: level of acidity, neutrality, or alkalinity. The range of pH is rated on a scale of 1-14, 1 being most acidic, 7.0 being neutral, and 14 the most alkaline.
To classify a food as alkaline or acid depends on the form it has after it has been metabolised. Whether what we eat becomes acid or alkaline is calculated using the PRAL (Potential Renal Acid Load) factor. PRAL indicates the acid load that has to be processed by the kidneys. The higher the PRAL value, the greater the acid-forming effect of the food. If the value is negative, the food is alkaline-forming.
Foods that are acidic or sour are not necessarily acid-forming when digested. For example, lemon juice has a pH value of 2.4, but it puts a negligible acid load on the kidneys. Therefore, lemon juice is alkaline-forming in the body.
How acid and alkaline-forming foods affect the body
The pH levels in the body vary depending on the area or system: the small intestine for example, is alkaline when healthy, while the large intestine is acidic. Our bodies are amazing at self-regulating and the different systems are constantly working to maintain their pH values, as even small changes can be dangerous to our health.
The pH of our blood needs to sit within 7.35-7.45 which is slightly alkaline. Alkaline-forming foods support this, because once they have been metabolised, the waste is simply excreted. Acid-forming foods on the other hand, have to be neutralised first. If your diet doesn’t contain enough alkaline minerals to do this, the body uses its own deposits by taking them from bones, teeth, hair roots and vital organs.
Over time, the effects of constantly using the body’s mineral stores to counteract low-grade acidity can contribute to health issues such as oxidative stress, chronic fatigue and osteoporosis. This 2010 review of ‘diet-induced acidosis’ stated that it “has a significant, clinical, long-term pathophysiological effect that should be recognized.”
An alkaline diet helps the blood to maintain its natural pH balance with ease, so it doesn’t have to use buffering measures to counteract acidity. Eating more of the foods that are rich in alkaline minerals, and less of the ones that strip our body of nutrients, puts the body under less stress and enables it to function better overall.
You can still eat meat
One common misconception about the alkaline diet is that it’s essentially vegan. This isn’t the case—eating fish, lean cuts of red meat and poultry, nuts and seeds—is encouraged. Although these foods are acidic, they contain lots of vitamins, nutrients and minerals that are necessary for the body. Alkaline foods however,need to be eaten in larger amounts, with a ratio of 60% of foods as alkaline, to 40% acidic.
Your alkaline balance also depends on many lifestyle decisions, such as getting enough water and sleep and managing stress and anxiety which are really important to your physiological state. Healthy relationships make a contribution too—oxytocin, the hormone that is released when you hug someone, or have an orgasm, also has alkalizing benefits.
Start out slow
You don’t have to cut all acidifying foods at once, but instead aim to add more alkalising foods into your diet. The more alkaline foods you have in your diet means that there’s less room for those acidic extras, and with time you won’t feel deprived but rather energised and motivated keep it up. It also pays to keep in mind that you are stressing your body by overeating acidic foods. Nurturing your body with alkaline foods is an act of self-care that you can do everyday.
Ready to kickstart your journey to wellness and clean energy? Check out our great range of alkalising food supplements that can be mixed into your smoothies:
- Alkalising Greens Acai Raspberry
- Alkalising Greens Lemon Lime
- Alkalising Greens Pineapple Coconut
- Barley Grass & Barley Grass Vanilla Flavour
- Certified Organic Barley Grass
- Organic Wheat Grass