Have you heard the concept of “being alkaline” talked about but are not sure what that really entails? Or perhaps you’ve looked up alkaline diet and wondered if trying it would be worth the effort? Or how to even know if it would make a difference for you?
Being alkaline is generally regarded as supporting a state of metabolic function that helps the body to be more efficient at clearing out cellular garbage. This means less energy and resources are necessary to resume a balanced state in the face of basic daily functions, and therefore more is available for other things. Being in a more alkaline state is reportedly good for mental clarity, lowering inflammation, responsive immunity and boosting energy levels. A healthy diet and good digestion are important there, but these are not the only ways to promote a more alkaline state. Others include getting adequate rest / deep sleep, breathwork and light exercise to oxygenate your blood. Daily life would ideally incorporate all of these elements. Looking at it through the lens of acid-alkaline diet can provide a deeper understanding of how your body responds to dietary choices, and which foods or activities help you enhance an internal alkaline environment.
As you probably know, pH is the scale used to measure how acidic, neutral or alkaline a substance is. A simple pH reading of urine or saliva can provide a window into how well balanced your internal buffers are. In our bodies, metabolic waste at the cellular level is generally acidic in nature. If left in this state, these waste byproducts can contribute to an irritating or toxic environment for surrounding cells and tissues. The body will naturally avoid this by neutralizing the waste matter and then flushing it away. The quickest way to neutralize an acidic substance is with the addition of an alkaline or mineral factor such as potassium. The premise behind promoting a largely alkaline diet is that the body needs continuous access to alkaline components in order to effectively neutralize and detox acidic metabolic waste products. Without this, it will take minerals and other alkaline cofactors from our tissues in order to keep things moving. Over time, the net effect of constantly pulling resources from the body can lead to imbalances and discomforts in a variety of areas. These include muscle soreness, stiff or aching joints, edema, restlessness, and a host of other ailments related to the body’s elimination and fluid balance functions.
The pH of various body tissues and fluids differs, each with appropriate levels to suit respective functions. For example, the interior of the stomach is necessarily acidic in order to digest protein, and blood is slightly alkaline, with a relatively narrow optimal pH range of 7.35 to 7.45. The body will go to great effort to maintain a consistent blood pH because it is necessary for life. Urine and saliva have a broader range and are more changeable depending on what you eat. Measuring urine pH upon waking and after meals is a quick and convenient way to test your body’s acid/alkaline balance on a daily basis in response to various meal combinations or stimuli. Likewise, measuring your baseline on a regular basis can reveal how steady or close to neutral you are. Familiarizing yourself with your own body’s responses can help you better balance stressors on your system.
When it comes to food, the measure we’re interested in is not so much the food itself as it is the metabolic residue that results from the digestive process, which is called ash. This is why a tart substance like lemon juice can actually have a net alkaline effect on the body. The pH range is a spectrum, and the easiest way to stay close to neutral is to minimize the consumption of foods on the extreme ends of the scale. Some highly acid-forming foods include sugar, alcohol, fried foods, coffee and soft drinks. It takes a lot of alkaline substance to off-set the impact of extreme compounds such as these. Some less extreme acid-forming foods include animal products such as eggs, cheese, most meats, walnuts and pasta. Alkaline-forming foods include leafy greens, most vegetables, sweet potatoes, wheat grass, avocados, almonds, and low-sugar fruits. From this limited list, you can see an alkaline diet is largely plant-based. However that is not exclusively the case. The important thing is to mix and balance. From a meal perspective, a small portion of animal protein can be paired with a large serving of vegetables and still have a net neutral or alkaline effect on your system. Test the effects for yourself and see what changes it for you. Have fun with it! There are huge benefits to supporting your body’s basic detox functions. Get in touch with us at Naturna to help you get started.
Ströhle, A., Hahn, A., Sebastian, A. (2010). Estimation of the diet-dependent net acid load in 229 worldwide historically studied hunter-gatherer societies. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition(91),2. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.2009.28637
Schwalfenberg G. K. (2012). The alkaline diet: is there evidence that an alkaline pH diet benefits health?. Journal of environmental and public health, 2012, 727630.