Health Benefits of an Alkaline Diet and How to Alkalize Your Body

One of the popular diets nowadays is the alkaline diet. Many people who have tried this diet and made it a regular part of their lifestyle claim to have better health. Is it true? How does it work? Can the alkaline diet do the same for anybody else?

What is an Alkaline Diet?

With the alkaline diet, foods are grouped into two -- the acidic and alkaline. A particular food is classified into each group depending on its potential renal acid load or PRAL value. This value is calculated based on a certain formula which allows the prediction of the effect of foods on the acidity or alkalinity of urine.

Acidic foods with high potential renal acid load include grain products, meat, fish, poultry and dairy products. Alkaline foods with low potential renal acid load include vegetables, fruits, fruit juices and potatoes. People are encouraged to eat more of the alkaline foods, which are found to be more helpful in keeping the body's urine pH levels at the right levels.

Drinking lots of water is also recommended as it is neutral in acidity with a pH of 7. Generally, foods with a higher number than 7 are alkaline, while anything that is lower than 7 is considered acidic.

Eat more alkaline fruits and vegetables. Image by John P of onemansblog.com
Eat more alkaline fruits and vegetables. Image by John P of onemansblog.com | Source

What is the Principle Behind the Alkaline Diet?

Those who teach about the alkaline diet claim that the basic principle behind it is the need for the human body to maintain a controlled pH level in the different organs. (Refer to the table below regarding the pH levels in the different organs of the body). They say this is important for the efficient functioning of the body.

The body in itself is very good at maintaining the proper pH balance. The problem is that certain factors, such as the type of food we eat and our lifestyle, can contribute to making it difficult for the body to maintain the appropriate pH level. Not particularly the blood pH, as many say, but the urine pH, according to this published article in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health. This condition is especially true with the aged because the acid-base regulatory function of the kidney declines as one grows old.

pH Level in Different Parts of the Body

Organ or fluid
pH
Function
Stomach
1.35 to 3.5
Breakdown of protein
Skin
4.0 to 6.5
Protective barrier against microbes
Vaginal fluid
4.7
Limit overgrowth of microbes
Blood
7.35 to 7.4
Tightly regulated
Urine
4.6 to 8.0
Limit overgrowth of microbes
Intracellular fluid
6.0 to 7.2
Acid production in cells
Cerebrospinal fluid
7.3
Bathes the exterior of the brain
pH levels in the different parts of the body. Data taken from the US National Library of Medicine.

What are the Benefits of an Alkaline Diet?

It has always been known that eating fruits and vegetables is healthy for the body. Since such nutrient rich foods are recommended by the alkaline diet, there's no doubt that those who follow it will reap its health benefits.

The alkaline diet has many health benefits which are mentioned in more specific details below:

1. Lower risk of kidney stones and other related problems

Intake of foods with high acid load causes the release of uric acid, calcium, and its salts - phosphates and carbonates into the urine. On the one hand, the release of the salts is a good attempt of the kidney to keep urine pH levels normal and prevent acidosis.

On the other hand, this has the potential to increase the risk for kidney stones as well as arthritis, gout and other uric acid-related problems. Some attribute calcium and bone loss to this occurrence as well, but studies do not totally support this concept as explained in the video below.

By having an alkaline diet, this change in urine chemistry is avoided and so decreases the risk for kidney problems.

Do highly acidic foods really cause bone loss?

Nuts are rich in magnesium, which activates vitamin D and in turn relieves back pain
Nuts are rich in magnesium, which activates vitamin D and in turn relieves back pain | Source

2. Increases the effectiveness of chemotherapy

Chemotherapeutic agents are found to be more effective with alkalosis. So, alkalizing the body of cancer patients may help them respond better to treatment. This does not prove, however, that alkaline foods or supplements prevent cancer.

3. Helps relieve back pain

Studies show that alkaline mineral supplements increase the availability of intracellular magnesium. Magnesium is necessary for the activation of vitamin D, which results in the relief of back pain. If you suffer from back pain, then eat more Magnesium-rich alkaline foods, such as vegetables, nuts and beans, which help produce the same relief from back pain.

http://www.arthritistoday.org/news/vitamin-d-back-pain.php

Alkaline diets help improve muscle efficiency, which is important to athletes such as weight lifters.
Alkaline diets help improve muscle efficiency, which is important to athletes such as weight lifters. | Source

4. Increases growth hormone levels in post-menopausal women

Correcting acidosis in post-menopausal women increases growth hormone levels. This results in many health benefits including improved memory and cognition and lower cardiovascular risk. Therefore, eat more alkalizing foods to address acidosis.

5. Increases muscle efficiency

Alkalizing foods are beneficial for athletes and for anyone doing any form of exercise. High-acid foods reduce muscle efficiency. This means the body works extra hard during a race or intense activity.

Alkaline-forming foods help reduce inflammation and this allow the muscles to work at more functional levels. So, athletes who run marathons are able to push harder, longer and bodybuilders are able to lift heavier weights with less negative stress on the body.

How to Alkalize Your Body?

Increasing the alkaline intake does not mean cutting acidic foods entirely from your diet. You do not have to eliminate rice, dairy products and all animal protein sources completely, knowing that they also help the body in some way.

While the alkaline diet recommends a ratio of 80-20, where 80% is from alkaline food sources and 20% from acidic foods, a person is free to flip that ratio around.

For the sake of simplicity and for those who want to incorporate alkalizing foods into their daily food intake, here are three diet changes that can be made quickly and easily.

1. Take green tea instead of coffee.

Green tea is alkaline whereas coffee is acidic. A simple substitution can make a significant impact already, particularly if you drink coffee quite often.

2. Eat more alkaline vegetables.

The best choices of alkalizing vegetables are broccoli, celery, cauliflower, chard greens, collard greens, mushrooms and cucumber. Eating these foods will help fight stress, and provide highly nutrient dense food for you!

3. Eat more alkaline fruits.

Lemons, melons, oranges, peaches, bananas, pears, berries, grapes and apples are some of the best alkalizing fruits. Eat these freely.

4. Go low on sodium.

Taking too much of this salt is detrimental on our health, so use with moderation.

If you value your health, it probably won't hurt if you try to eat more alkaline foods. It may not include all your favorite foods, but it can help you get better and healthier.

Want to know if your pee is telling you to go on an alkaline diet?

Want to know more about the alkaline diet? Get this book and you just might experience a miracle.

More by this Author


3 comments

Chin chin profile image

Chin chin 16 months ago from Philippines Author

Hi Dolores. Lemons and oranges indeed are acidic when we eat/taste them. But I think the alkalinity of lemons that is talked about here is their inherent property after they are digested. The minerals that they have, potassium and magnesium for example, have an alkalising effect on the body. But I read somewhere that oranges doesn't have as much alkaline effect as lemons because of their high sugar content.

Thanks for reading and commenting, Dolores.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 16 months ago from East Coast, United States

I've heard that introducing more alkaline into your body is good for you, but never really read much about it. I am confused though. I thought that lemons and oranges were acid.


chuckandus6 profile image

chuckandus6 19 months ago from The Country-Side

Very imteresting hub, I have never heard of this diet before your hub,thanks for writing.

Voted UP

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working