By: Sapna Fliedner MSN, HHC
Have you heard about pH, alkaline foods, and the dangers of an overly acidic diet but always wondered what it all means and how it can impact your health? If so, read on…
The pH range is the measure of how acidic or alkaline a substance is, Laundry detergent is basic while lemon juice is acidic. The pH range is from 0-14, acid to alkaline, pH of 7.0 being right in the middle. Our blood must maintain a constant pH of 7.35 to 7.45 or slightly alkaline, The idea behind the pH diet is to reduce the stress on the body by eating a slightly alkaline diet so that there is not so much energy spent on balancing our bodies pH. Much of the Standard American Diet is acidic in nature.
The alkaline diet promotes consuming fruits and vegetables, some nuts and legumes, and plenty of water. It recommends dramatically reducing your intake of animal protein, white sugar, white flour, processed foods, and caffeine.
The diet was originally intended to prevent recurrent kidney stones and UTI’s by changing the pH of your urine. The theory behind the diet is that eating a diet high in acidic foods requires your body to work harder to maintain equilibrium; in this weakened state, you may become more prone to disease.
The medical community largely refutes this as a myth and claims that pH is maintained in the body regardless of what you consume, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t derive benefits from eating a pH-balancing alkaline diet.
What Are the Benefits?
Proponents of the diet claim that it is anti-cancer, may decrease muscle wasting and bone loss, and ease back pain, among other things.
Here are some of the known benefits of eating an alkaline diet:
- Increased intake of fruits and vegetables has shown to reduce risk of chronic diseases including hypertension and stroke.
- Eating low-acid foods results in increased growth hormone, which can improve everything from cardiovascular health to memory and cognition. Growth Hormone also has anti-aging properties.
- Available magnesium in the body increases, and magnesium is required for the function of many enzyme systems that promote energy and metabolism. This allows us to extract energy from the food we consume.
- Increasing intake of fruits and vegetables has been associated with achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, which has many health benefits.
- Cancer Prevention. Proponents of the diet claim that eating an alkaline diet encourages healthy cell turnover and may prevent cancer for forming.
However, according to studies by the traditional medical community, the only legitimate benefit of an alkaline diet is a lowered risk of kidney stones.
Are There Risks?
When it comes to risks associated with the alkaline diet, you may be hard-pressed to find many! It may be difficult to get enough protein or calcium on this diet due to the restrictions on meat and dairy, but a holistic health practitioner can help you develop a properly balanced alkaline diet that works for you and your family. As a Holistic Integrative Health Coach, I don’t propose one diet over another…whether it be vegetarian, vegan, paleo, weston price, ayurvedic. I look at each individual body type, blood type and seasons and teach people to eat real food that is best suited for their body type.
Evaluating Your pH
You can easily determine how acidic your body is by doing an at-home urine test. (pH strips that give you a reading are sold at many pharmacies or can be found online.) True pH imbalance could be a sign of serious illness such as kidney failure or lung disease since your body regularly maintains pH balance through these two organs.
Of course, it’s not necessary to eat a 100% alkaline diet to maintain robust health! A good rule of thumb is that 60-80% of our diet should be from more alkaline foods, and 20-40% more acidic foods. We tend to eat more alkaline in the spring and summer when nature is abundant with fruits and vegetables and more acidic in the winter as this is a time when the body naturally flows into a more acidic state as more protein and fats are needed to keep the body warm. As with everything that has to do with your health, moderation is your best friend.
Chart of alkaline/acidic foods: http://www.rense.com/1.mpicons/acidalka.htm
Enzymedica pH-Strips: http://www.enzymedica.com/store/All/pH-Strips