The Alkaline Diet
Oh no, somehow I got too acidic. Not sure how it happened but now all my friends tell me I should eat only alkaline foods to adjust the pH in my body. Why is this happening now?
Strictly speaking, pH stands for ‘potential of hydrogen’ and it tells the concentration of the hydrogen ion in a solution. pH values range from 0 to 14 with numbers above 7 indicating increasingly more basic (alkaline, lower concentrations of hydrogen ion) and number below 7 pointing to solutions becoming more and more acidic (higher concentrations of hydrogen ion). A pH of 14 is completely alkaline, a pH of 0 is completely acidic, and 7 is a neutral solution.
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Different parts of the body are at different pH levels. The stomach is extremely acidic and has a pH of 3.5 and below. This acid is necessary to break down food for digestion. Your blood however is just above neutral, with a slightly alkaline pH between 7.35 and 7.45. To maintain your blood at a stable pH, the pH of your urine changes depending on what you eat.
Following the Alkaline Diet
The diet claims that you need to maintain your blood’s pH level through the foods you eat. The diet claims that eating acidic foods alters our blood pH for periods of time and if we do this too often we create long-term acidity that is detrimental. In truth, nothing you eat will change the pH of your blood one way or the other, your urine makes sure of that.
The diet says that eating fruits and vegetables, legumes, tofu, nuts, and seeds are pro-alkaline so you should eat them. Dairy, meat, most grains, and processed foods (canned, boxed, and ‘instant’) are off limits. Sugar, alcohol and caffeine are off limits as well. Some practitioners would have you buy supplements and their own branded low-acid foods and drinks. This is unnecessary.
Other than eliminating most grains, the Alkaline Diet is a great way to eat! If you follow this plan (and include whole grains), you will achieve what the diet sets out to achieve – good health – but not for the reasons it claims. A diet high in plant foods (be sure to include whole grains) and low in animal products is known to build strong bones and muscles, reduce the risk of heart disease, boost brain function, alleviate chronic pain, and improve digestion. Not because of pH changes, but because of a high level of nutrients and low levels of fat and cholesterol. Your heart will thank you.
Dr. James Kneller treats atrial fibrillation, arrhythmia, and other heart conditions. He is an internationally recognized authority on cardiovascular health and personal development.