‘What is an alkaline diet and why does it matter to me’, you ask? Well, the first part of understanding the alkaline diet advantage is to know that some foods have an alkaline effect and some foods have an acidic effect. This fact forms the basis of the alkaline diet—a way of eating which aims to help your body regulate the pH of your blood. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to pull out your high school chemistry textbook, we’ll explain the science part further – it’s actually pretty fascinating!
Some Science Behind the Alkaline Diet
All liquids can be measured for pH – a number that tells us how acidic or alkaline that liquid is. A pH of 7.0 is right in the middle of the scale. Perhaps the cobwebs on your high school chemistry memories are being dusted off at this point? Well, your own blood has a measurable pH too! Science tells us that it is naturally maintained between 7.35 and 7.45, and that a slightly alkaline level of 7.40 is ideal. If you blood’s pH goes above 7.8 or sinks below 6.8 you can have serious health issues. Your body is set up with a buffer system specifically designed to maintain that healthy pH of 7.35 to 7.45.
And now that we’ve dusted off a lot of those cobwebs, let’s dig a bit deeper. Here’s how it works:
- An acid can be defined as any substance that can lose a proton (or a hydrogen ion H+)
- An alkaline substance (a base) can accept a proton (for example, hydroxide OH-)
(Note: You might remember from chemistry class that water is a neutral liquid (pH 7.0) because when water is broken down it forms H+ and OH-. A one to one ratio with an acid and alkaline)
Your body’s main buffer system uses something called bicarbonate in the process of maintaining your blood’s healthy pH, because bicarbonate can accept a proton and is therefore considered an alkaline substance. Bicarbonate is also stored in your bones, where it joins itself with calcium and sodium. Your body also uses the phosphate stored in your bones, joined with calcium, to act as a buffer. And in order to get these buffers doing their jobs, the bone minerals they are joined together with must be broken down.
Here’s a quick recap in case you got a bit lost in all the chemistry so far: Your body uses bicarbonate and phosphate to keep your blood at a healthy pH. Maintaining healthy pH levels in your blood is the whole purpose of the alkaline diet, and this may help you avoid some serious health issues.
How the Buffering System Works
Now that we’ve got the chemistry part down, let’s talk more about the relationship of our diet to the buffering of our blood’s pH. (Hang in there for just a bit longer – the practical “do’s” and “don’ts” are coming right up!)
Some foods have an acidic effect on the body and are taxing on the buffering system. Buffering takes place in the kidneys where the proton build-up from your blood is removed. (Did you know that kidney stones may occur at higher rates where a person has a more acidic diet? It makes perfect sense, since the kidneys have to work harder to buffer a higher acidic blood level. And if you know anyone that has had kidney stones in the past, you know they are just plain not fun.)
Because your bones may contribute as much as 40% of the needed substances (bicarbonate and phosphate) to deal with a high level of acid in the blood, there can be a high breakdown of bone minerals too. As little as one week of a high acidic diet may reduce the surface level of bone minerals, (Yikes!). So, while the buffer system maintains your blood’s pH regardless of what you eat, increased acidic food also increases the load it deals with and this can create fall out in other areas. We know what you’re thinking – this is not good!
Alkaline Foods Vs. Acid Foods
Here’s the everyday practical part of why we asked you to revisit your high-school chemistry, and to why we believe the alkaline diet is beneficial: What you consume affects your blood’s pH, and thus effects how hard your body has to work to stay healthy. Consuming a more alkaline diet and staying away from acid forming foods may have a positive effect on your overall health. Take a look at these examples of food types:
- Alkaline forming foods include the types we normally consider healthy: Asparagus, Avocado, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Cherries, Coconut, Collared Greens, Cucumber, Eggplant, Figs, Kale, Lettuce, Lemon, Lime, Mushrooms, Mustard Greens, Onions, Peas, Peppers, Pumpkins, Sprouts, Squashes, Tomato, Watermelon.
- High Acid forming foods include many meat and processed products: Artificial Sweeteners, Beef, Beer, Black Tea, Cheese, Coffee, Corn Tortillas, Eggs, Ketchup, Liquor, Mayonnaise, Pickled Vegetables, Pork, Sardines (canned), Soda, Sparkling Water, Sweetened Fruit Juice, Tuna (canned), Veal, White Bread, Wine.
We suggest you shoot for a minimum 80/20 ratio of the foods you consume: 80% alkaline food/20% acidic food. Food Matters offers a full list of alkaline foods here: (make ‘here’ a clickable link to the following, OR link to our other article with the food chart included http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/heartburn-indigestion-acid-reflux-how-to-kick-and-over-acid-diet)
How to Take Advantage of the Alkaline Diet Every Day
Now that you are officially a wealth of alkaline diet knowledge, here are a few simple things you can do each day to move forward towards a healthier you:
- Eat vegetables (especially leafy green ones) and low glycemic fruit every day
- Avoid the whites! That means white carbs like bread, potatoes, white rice etc.
- Stay away from processed foods, sodas and white sugar. Embrace meals made from fresh ingredients. Fight the urge to go through the Drive-Thru – you can do it!
- Get active. Your lungs also act as a buffering system because they get rid of CO2 (which acts as an acid in the blood) when exhaling. The benefits of exercise are felt all throughout your body’s complex systems. It just feels good, doesn’t it?
- Drink plenty of alkaline water. Qure water is an alkaline water with a 9.5pH making it an ideal complement to an alkaline diet. Qure contains 100% absorbable minerals and was developed to counterbalance acids. Let’s face it, we already know that adequate water consumption is vital for health and longevity, so give your body a helping hand with a water designed to aid your quest for good health!