Alkaline Diet Explained


by Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN
Author, Eating for Energy

Have you heard about the alkaline diet? Have you wondered what exactly that means? Are you a little curious as to the benefits of this plan? Want to know how it differs from being a vegetarian, a vegan, or a raw food eater?

The first thing you need to understand is what an alkaline food item is. These are raw food items that, if you were to burn them in a flame, they would leave behind an ash that has a basic pH rating of seven or higher. Rather than use this as cooking information, followers of the acid alkaline diet use this combustion as a comparison to how the body breaks down and uses food as a fuel source.

These foods leave behind minerals like calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc when they are consumed by fire. Foods that leave this kind of residue include low-glycemic index fruits and vegetables, citrus fruits, tubers, roots and nuts. Switching your diet to solely these food items, it is believed, will help keep the body’s overall pH balance at a slightly alkaline level, which is thought to be a natural and healthy state. Foods to avoid on this plan include animal proteins, processed foods, unnatural sugars, and stimulants like caffeine.

A diet rich in alkaline foods is also thought to reduce the body’s reliance on stored pH balancers such as the calcium in bones. Some studies have even shown that an alkaline-rich diet, or a regular use of supplements, can increase the amount of bone mass and muscle mass in older people, helping to offset conditions like osteoporosis in women and degenerative muscle wasting in the elderly. And while many say that more research is needed on the benefits of an alkaline diet, there have been studies done that show that the formation of kidney stones is largely prevented with an alkaline-rich diet.

Followers of the alkaline diet say that their food consumption is closer to what our ancestors would have originally eaten. They say that, before the onset of Western civilization, a typical human diet was unprocessed and uncooked plant matter. Grains were not edible until the discovery of tools like the mortar and pestle, and meats were an uncommon addition, depending on the hunting prowess of the tribe, rather than domestication of meat-bearing animals. Instead, people had to rely on the plants, fruits and vegetables that could be eaten without problematic preparations.

Proponents of an alkaline diet may do so to alleviate symptoms that they believe are due to larger amounts of acidic foods in the modern diet. Practitioners say that people suffering from frequent illnesses and headaches, or an overall lack of energy, and women who have ovarian and benign breast cysts might benefit from an alkaline diet, or at the very least, a reduction in the amounts of red meat and processed grains that a person consumes.



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