Alkaline Diet, also referred to as the alkaline acid diet, the alkaline ash diet or the acid alkaline diet, is a form of diet that encourages the use of specific foods that are alkaline in nature. Most foods may be categorised as acidic or alkaline depending up on their inherent pH values. A pH value of below 7 classifies the food as acidic and above 7 as alkaline while at 7, foods have a neutral pH. Up until the creation of the pH scale in the beginning of the 19th century, 1909, there was no way to determine the acid or alkaline nature of different foods. Alkaline foods have the innate tendency to render the body more alkaline. Research over the years has helped scientists develop a clearer understanding of the alkalinity of foods and the impact they produce on the human body.
Chemistry of Alkaline Foods
Foods that are classified as acidic or alkaline need not necessarily produce the same effect once ingested and subjected to the normal digestive processes. For instance most types of vinegar are acidic in nature and tend to produce the same acidic effect in the body as well. However, apple cider vinegar is an exception to the rule as it has a strong alkalizing effect. This is due to the high alkaline mineral content in it. Thus by the taste alone, it is not possible to estimate whether a given food item is acidic or alkaline. Lime juice and apple cider vinegar are highly acidic, yet make the body more alkaline. Sugar and milk, though sweet, exhibit an acidic effect within the body.
High alkaline mineral content such as Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium induce alkalinity in foods with Potassium playing the major role. Potassium exerts the greatest influence on the body’s internal pH. Likewise, high content of acid-forming minerals phosphorus, sulphur and iodine are responsible for inducing acidity in certain foods. Meat is considered to be an acidifying food because upon digestion the protein is broken down into amino acids which are further converted into phosphorus and sulphur. Next, these minerals come in contact with water to produce sulphuric and phosphoric acids.
Benefits of Alkaline Diet
The normal human body maintains itself in a slightly alkaline pH condition. A highly acidic pH is believed to have a negative impact on every cell of the body. It is observed to reduce the immune response functions and increase the state of inflammation in the body. High acidity can give rise to several chronic health conditions whereas an alkaline diet can prevent these issues from developing.
- In case the body is in an acidic pH state, the cells are incapable of synthesizing ATP- Adenosine Triphosphate which is critical in the energy release mechanism that occurs within the mitochondria of each and every cell in the human body. This could lead to fatigue and lack of energy.
- An acidic environment in the mouth facilitates the growth and multiplication of oral bacteria at a more rapid rate. Bad breath, gum disease and tooth decay become common problems. Significant improvement in oral health has been noticed in individuals after switching to alkaline diet.
- The immune system response is compromised when the body is in an acidic pH state. Due to this infectious agents such as bacteria and virus can easily attack the body’s cells and produce infection. An individual would be more prone to illnesses as the body’s defence mechanisms have been affected.
- Magnesium is a nutrient that plays a vital role in supporting joint and tissue functions. An alkaline diet supplies more magnesium to promote its actions in maintaining healthy joints by fighting inflammation and reducing pain.
- An alkaline diet helps preserves a cell’s ability to repair and restore itself. Alkaline diet also aids in detoxification and affords protection from premature aging.
- Fresh citrus fruits, low sugar fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and tubers.
- Milk and dairy products, meat, sugar, alcohol, caffeinated beverages and mushroom.
Overall, the alkaline diet promotes healthy weight loss, improved immunity and better energy levels.