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Alkaline Foods: Definition, List And Benefits

Victoria Beckham follows an alkaline diet which means consuming foods that balance your blood ph levels.
Most vegetables have high ph levels, making them alkaline.

There are so many diets out there if you search online, and every single one promises to get you in the best shape of your life. Here we're going to talk about one whose following is growing more and more every day, and that the famous Victoria Beckham happens to believe in: the alkaline diet.

In this article, we're going to break down the exact benefits of alkaline foods for you. This diet primarily focuses on the importance of acidity and pH levels in different foods that we eat.

Alkaline foods

This diet that is mainly comprised of non-acidic foods is also known as the alkaline ash diet and regulates body pH by consuming specific foods that are considered non-acidic.

The abbreviation 'pH' actually stands for potential of hydrogen. This is a way to measure the acidity or alkalinity of the body's fluids and tissues and is based on a scale that ranges from 0 to 14. The more acidic a substance is, the lower its pH, and the more alkaline it is, the higher the number will be. Since it falls in the middle of the scale, 7 is considered a neutral pH.

Keeping this in mind, the body's ideal pH is about 7.4, and experts suggest that to be healthy, the levels should be slightly non-acidic. Besides, pH levels vary depending on the area of the body and how we eat. The stomach is the most acidic body part.

The body's pH is partially determined by the mineral density of the foods we consume. According to the 'acid-ash' hypothesis, proteins, grains and foods low in potassium add acid to the diet, elevated calcium levels to urine, and cause the skeleton to release calcium. All of this leads to diseases like osteoporosis and other health conditions.

The alkaline diet is based on this hypothesis and lists non-acidic foods that can prevent this process from occurring. In doing this, the pH level of each food needs to be kept in mind to limit acid intake.

No matter how small these changes are, pH alterations can cause significant health problems in humans or any other living being. This is why it is important to incorporate foods like the ones below, in our diets.

Alkaline food list

Nutrition experts and specialists on this diet, recommend buying organic varieties of these foods whenever possible. This is because the type of soil that plants are grown in can have a significant impact on their alkalinity and vitamin and mineral content -organic soil rich in minerals tends to alkalize your body the most.

Here is a list of the best alkaline foods:

1. Fresh fruits and vegetables

The fresher fruits and veggies are, the more alkaline they will be. Some of the best alkaline fruits and vegetables are: mushrooms, citrus fruits, dates and raisins, spinach, tomato, avocado, radish, barley grass, cucumber, kale, wheat, broccoli, fresh oregano, garlic, ginger, escarole, watermelon, celery, figs, and ripe bananas.

Also, it's best to eat these foods in their raw form. This is because the cooking process can actually get rid of the alkalizing minerals, which is why consuming more raw plant-based foods is suggested. You can also make fresh juices or lightly steamed fruits and vegetables.

2. Foods rich in plant-based proteins

Almonds and different types of beans are great examples of non-acidic plant-based proteins. 

3. Alkaline water

The pH of alkaline water is between 9 and 11. Currently, there are reverse osmosis filters that improve the quality of tap water, although it will still be slightly acidic.

You can also add lemon or lime juice, or even baking soda to water to raise its alkalinity a bit.

4. Green smoothies

Smoothies made with green veggies are rich in alkaline and chlorophyll. The latter element is structurally similar to our blood, which is what helps to alkalize it.

British celebrity Victoria Beckham mentioned that she follows an alkaline diet.

 

Benefits

Celebrities like Victoria Beckham have backed up this diet because of the plethora of health benefits that it brings. Below, we'll take a look at a few of the benefits of alkaline foods that are scientifically proven.

1. Promotes bone density and muscle mass

Mineral consumption plays an essential role in building and maintaining bones. According to studies, the more alkaline the fruits and vegetables that we consume are, the less the bones and muscles risk depletion that occurs as a result of aging. Because of this, non-acidic foods also fight bone diseases like osteoporosis.

However, other studies suggest that this research neglects the role of the kidneys and lungs when it comes to controlling the body's pH levels. On top of this, these investigations ignore collagen loss, ironically connected to low acid levels in the diet, typical of osteoporosis.

2. Alkaline foods and cancer

According to specific studies, when cells lack proper amounts of minerals needed to get rid of the waste or oxygen, the body suffers. Vitamin absorption suffers, and pathogens start accumulating in the body.

One study published in the British Journal of Radiology suggests that cell death seen in cancer cases could be more likely to occur in an acidic environment. This is why some hypothesize that following an alkaline diet could help to prevent cancer.

However, other research on diet-induced acidosis and cancer found that there was no direct connection. These studies argue that even though these foods can change pH, the cancer cells don't just appear in acidic environments, and tumors actually create this acid themselves. Therefore, cancer doesn't necessarily occur in an acidic setting, but instead, it creates this itself.

All of these contraindications just mean one thing: so much research still needs to be done. Also, although there isn't a clear connection now, this could still be a promising subject to investigate when it comes to the correlation between these foods and cancer prevention.

3. Reduces the risk of high blood pressure

This diet is full of fruits and vegetables, which are excellent antioxidants. One benefit of these is that they decrease inflammation and improve cardiovascular health, which also means common health conditions like high cholesterol, hypertension, and kidney stones are preventable with this diet.

4. Reduces chronic pain

Other studies have found a relationship between an alkaline diet and reduced chronic pain. This research suggests that chronic acidosis contributes to chronic back pain, headaches, muscle spasms, menstrual pain, inflammation, and joint pain.

5. Helps to maintain a healthy weight

Eating fewer foods that promote the formation of acid and increasing the consumption of alkaline foods can prevent obesity. This is because this diet decreases leptin levels and bloating something that directly contributes to hunger and our body's ability to burn fat.

Here are a few foods that are considered 'anti-alkaline':

  • High sodium processed foods

  • Processed grains

  • Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages

  • Oatmeal and whole-wheat products

  • Milk

  • Peanuts and walnuts

  • Pasta, rice, bread, and packaged grain products

  • Iodine

References

Cunningham, E. (2009). What impact does pH have on food and nutrition?. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109(10): 1816.

Dwyer, J., Foulkes, E., Evans, M. & Ausman, L. (1985). Acid/alkaline ash diets: time for assessment and change. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 85 (7): 841–845.

Hanley, D. A., Whiting, S. J. (2013). Does a high dietary acid content cause bone loss, and can bone loss be prevented with an alkaline diet?. Journal of Clinical Densitometry, 16: 420–425.

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