Alkaline diet helps maintain good pH balance in body, likely to prevent disease
The study says that consuming a diet rich in alkaline foods can not only prevent kidney diseases but also results in an increase in growth hormone levels, prevention of muscle loss and can even help deal with chronic pain and inflammation.
The appropriate and delicate balance between acids and bases, also known as pH value, has a huge role to play in your health. Any disturbance in this balance can lead to ill health and even loss of life in extreme cases. In the case of humans, acidosis (the excess of acidity in the blood and tissues) can cause everything from nausea and diarrhoea to arrhythmia, spasms and coma. Preventing acidosis and, in turn, such adverse health effects is crucial.
Since the diet is one of the most effective ways of regulating the pH levels of the body, many researchers and nutritionists believe that avoiding acidic foods and increasing the intake of alkaline foods can help maintain the body’s pH balance and prevent all sorts of diseases. But is such an alkaline diet likely to work? Here’s what you need to know.
The benefits of an alkaline diet
A study published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health in 2012 points out that over the past 100 years, the pH values of all life on earth have changed - and this includes the soil, the oceans and all the organisms in/on them. Where human diet is concerned, the study says that there have been marked decreases in sodium, potassium, magnesium and dietary fibre consumption. At the same time, there has been an increase in chlorides, saturated fat and sugar, leading to metabolic acidosis and an increasing prevalence of diseases. Increased calcium and uric acid levels also indicate a higher risk of kidney stones and kidney diseases.
The study says that consuming a diet rich in alkaline foods can not only prevent kidney diseases but also results in an increase in growth hormone levels, prevention of muscle loss and can even help deal with chronic pain and inflammation. A 2016 study in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine confirms this improvement in bone mineral density and muscle mass. This study also suggests that consuming alkaline foods and alkaline water can reduce tumour cell growth and metastasis, effectively flush out toxins from the body and lead to a lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases.
While claims about the cancer preventing-benefits of an alkaline diet have been made in other studies like the one mentioned above, another study published in BMJ Open in 2016 suggests that there is no actual research to support them. However, the fact that an alkaline diet has immense benefits for overall health and proper metabolic function is undisputed.
How to adopt an alkaline diet
Before you get excited about these benefits of the alkaline diet and decide to adopt it, it’s important to note that humans don’t have a set pH value like certain foods do. Different parts of your body function at different pH levels. For example, your blood is supposed to be slightly alkaline but your stomach is packed with hydrochloric acid - making this organ acidic - so that your food can be broken down.
Maintaining these pH levels within the body is essential, so adopting an alkaline diet might appear more difficult than it is. In their 2002 book, The pH Miracle, Dr Robert O Young and Shelley Redford Young recommend that making a gradual transition into an alkaline diet is important for long-term sustainability and adherence. At the end of the day, an alkaline diet is essentially a plant-based diet — almost similar to the Indian sattvic diet — so including plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds is necessary.
Where the alkaline diet departs from the sattvic diet is with the inclusion of river fish and the exclusion of high-fat dairy products. As pointed out in The pH Miracle, fish grown in rivers are especially rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have an alkalizing effect on the body. So, the consumption of fish like trout, sea bass, sole, tuna, swordfish and salmon is permitted in an alkaline diet. When it comes to dairy, this diet supports the inclusion of soy, almond, sesame, rice and coconut milk. Eliminating added sugar, white rice, refined flours and processed condiments like pickles, sauces, etc is essential.
A simple way to start off on an alkaline diet is to make alkaline water and drink it to cleanse your body. All you need to do is add slices of a whole lemon and one-and-a-half teaspoons of Himalayan salt in a litre of water and let it sit overnight or for eight-nine hours before drinking it. Many people also add cucumber slices and mint leaves to this alkaline water to increase its potency and taste. This simple alkaline water cleanse can ease your transition into the adoption of an alkaline diet.
For more information, read our article on How to increase immunity.
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