A complete guide to Acid Alkaline diet
I told my friend that I recently started following a new diet and she asked me, “is your diet pH balanced?” I have read and heard many people talk about pH balance of the body and diets catering to it, but what I could never follow is the importance and significance of pH with respect to our Indian diets. Did this thought ever cross your mind?
The Indian diet is typically based on meat, sugar, alcohol, saturated fats and dairy products, which create an acidic cellular environment. This unbalanced pH can cause health issues like cancer, obesity, heart diseases and premature aging. Thus, balancing the pH level is very essential for our well being.
What are Acidity and Alkalinity?
Acidity and alkalinity are the basis of health and longevity. Almost all the foods that we eat after being digested and metabolized, release an acid or an alkaline base into the blood, which can alter the body’s pH.
Our body’s natural pH is slightly alkaline. It hovers between 7.35 to 7.45 on the pH scale. The body maintains the pH level through a number of mechanisms, which include the involvement of the kidney and respiratory system.
The excess consumption of high acid foods causes the body to become highly acidic, which leads to the loss of minerals in the system. People with an unbalanced pH value become prone to weak joints and muscles, heart diseases, diabetes and several other health problems.
The acid alkaline diet also known as the alkaline diet helps the body to control the pH level. As mentioned earlier eating excess of acid forming foods can disrupt the body’s natural process, leading to detrimental effects. Reducing the formation of acid in the body and consuming foods in alkaline nature can help an individual lose weight and reduce the risk of serious health conditions like cancer and heart attack.
Aim of the Diet:
The aim of the alkaline diet is to prevent the body from going into a more acidic state by taking some protective actions. The acid alkaline diet first detoxifies the body, then creates and maintains a more alkaline environment in which the body can heal itself. While following the alkaline diet you have to ensure that you consume at least 70 to 80% of alkaline foods. You would also need to adopt and adhere to an acid reducing lifestyle to achieve the correct balance.
What is the pH Value?
The acidity of a solution is measured on the pH scale termed as the “power of hydrogen”. The pH scale shows that the activity of hydrogen ions present in the sample. The pH value of the acidic substance ranges from 0 to 7, while the alkaline substance falls 7 to 14 on the scale. The high acidity is represented by a low value and low acidity by a high value. The pH levels in the body affect every cell, which, if out of balance. This can be detrimental to the normal functioning of the cells, tissues and organs.
How does the Acid Alkaline Diet work?
Making smart and healthy food choices are the key to a healthy and balanced pH value. While following the acid alkaline diet, you should eat 80% alkalizing foods and 20% acid forming food. You have to apply this rule for every meal, snack and beverage. People also follow the 60/40 diet, which may not help to correct the years of acidity but can help in maintaining a healthy balance.
Acid forming foods:
The acid forming foods include:
- Red and processed meat
- Fried and fatty foods
- Completely dairy products
- Sugary snacks and drinks
- Ocean fish
- White grains
- Alcohol, coffee, soft drinks
- Salad dressing, croutons, mayonnaise and ketchup
You do not need to calculate the acidity value of each and every thing that you consume. All you need to do is make a healthy and necessary swaps. Opt for white meat and seafood instead of red meat. Drink water and sugar free juices instead of milk and alcohol.
Foods you should include in an alkaline diet:
The acid alkaline diet recommends eating a plant based diet high in fruits and vegetables to keep the body’s pH neutral.
1. Green leafy vegetables:
Green leafy vegetables can make a significant difference in the system. The balanced pH value in the green vegetables protects the joints, heart, brain, liver, muscles and kidneys. Alkaline bodies are also resistant to cancer and infections. Green leafy vegetables not only reduce the acidic content, but also help with weight management. Green leafy vegetables include Swiss chard, spinach, kale and turnip greens.
2. Root vegetables:
Root vegetables like turnips, carrot, beets and radish are rich in minerals than many other vegetables. Steam them for 20 minutes and they are ready to eaten. Root vegetables digest slowly and thus will keep you satiated for a longer time.
3. Cruciferous vegetables:
Cruciferous vegetables can be turned into a delicious meal by adding just a small amount of pesto sauce. Choose from broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and cauliflower.
Garlic is a miracle food and has been used since centuries to treat various ailments. It also improves the immune health by lowering blood pressure, cleansing the liver and fighting off disease.
5. Bell peppers:
Bell peppers are one of the most alkalizing foods. It is also known for it’s antibacterial properties and rich supply of vitamin A.
Lemons are one of the most alkalizing foods. This healing food provides immediate relief from hyperacidity, cold and cough. It also energizes the liver and promotes detoxification.
Cucumbers provide a base for every alkaline soup, smoothie and juice because of its high water content. It also contains lignans that reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, breast, urine and prostate cancer.
The other foods you can include in an alkaline diet are:
- Almond and Brazil nuts
- Seeds of pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and caraway
- Grains like buckwheat, quinoa and wheat
- White, soy, lima and kidney beans
- Flax seed and olive oil
- Fruits like apples, bananas, peaches, pears, nectarines, pineapple
- Whey protein powder.
- For spices and condiments you can include chili powder, cinnamon, herbs and curry. Following the alkaline diet does not mean that you have to eliminate whole food groups from the diet. You only have to make better eating choices to improve on the overall pH value. You can eat acid based foods but in moderation.
- Being dehydrated and overdoing workouts can have a significant impact on your pH value. You need to tweak your lifestyle habits to have a balanced pH value. You can make some changes to your lifestyle:
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid using tobacco
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Avoid drug abuse
We love to go out and many a times even eat out. While eating out opt for a large salad with olive oil dressing, egg based soups, steamed vegetables and sautéed tofu or chicken. People going to a Greek restaurant should avoid eating hummus and cheese pastries, as they are acid forming dishes.
The acid, alkaline diet relies completely on the meal plan, but that does not mean that you should not exercise. Physical activity is very essential as it lowers the risk of heart diseases and diabetes. It also helps in weight management and increases the energy level. Health experts suggest doing 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise almost every day.
Acid and alkaline diet emphasizes greatly on the importance of satiety. The diet recommends eating several fiber packed whole grains and vegetables, which will keep you full for longer time.
2. Overall health:
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help improve bone strength and nervous health. Decreasing the intake of meat and dairy products can reduce the risk of kidney stones.
3. Weight loss:
Alkaline and acid diet lacks scientific studies in its weight loss potential. However, its ban on processed foods and emphasis on whole grains and soy products can help the dieters with weight loss. Eating fewer calories than the daily-recommended amount and regular workout can help you burn fat.
4. Cardiovascular benefits:
Cutting back on processed and red meat can give you cardiovascular benefits. Researches have also suggested that following a plant-based diet can keep the cholesterol and blood pressure in check.
Alkaline diet promotes excluding several food groups that could result in a less balanced diet. The diet can also causes deficiency in phytonutrients, essential fatty acids and vitamin B12.
- People with acute, chronic disease and kidney failure should not follow acid and alkaline diet, unless advised by their doctor.
- People who have a heart condition should avoid alkaline diet. Consult your doctor before making any dietary changes.
- People who are used to eat fatty and sugary foods might find it difficult to follow the alkaline diet.
- It’s emphasis on the elimination of meat, dairy and processed foods might not go down very well with some people.
- You also need to spend more time planning, preparing and shopping for your meals.
A Sample Diet Plan:
Early morning- 8 am
- A cup of green tea
Breakfast- 9 pm
- Two eggs and veggies scrambled, made with onion, bell peppers and green onion
- 2 slices of brown bread
- A cup of soy milk
Lunch: 1 pm
- Lentil soup
- 1 bowl of steamed vegetables or green salad. You can dress the salad with olive oil dressing.
Evening snack: 4 pm
- 1 pear
- A handful of almonds
- A hardboiled egg sprinkled with salt and pepper
Dinner: 9 pm
- Rice or buckwheat pasta topped with bitter greens like broccoli, zucchini, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper
- A 4 oz. of steamed salmon
It’s never too late to follow healthy eating habits and incorporate a better lifestyle. What you need to check is if you can sustain the new habits in the long run too. We hope that you will too find that perfect balance for yourself – a perfect pH balance!
Do share your thoughts with us. We would love to hear from you.