Eating a diet rich in alkaline foods is known to reduce the strain on the body’s acid-detox system. An alkaline diet is high in whole fruits and vegetables, as well as certain whole grains. These foods have the common trait of being low in their caloric density. These healthy alkaline foods have the ideal balance of acidifying foods and alkalizing foods.
While the body’s organ systems are able to neutralize and eliminate excess acid, there is a limit to the amount of acid that a healthy body can process. The body is able to maintain an acid-alkaline balance, assuming all organs are functioning correctly, acid-producing substances such as tobacco are avoided, and a well-balanced alkaline diet is consumed.
As a recent celebrity favorite, the Alkaline diet is rumored to be a cure-all that can benefit anyone who decides to take it on. However, is it as effective as people may think? Essentially, the theory behind the diet is to eat certain foods to optimize pH balance such as nuts, seeds, and fresh produce, and avoiding meat, sugar, dairy, caffeine, processed foods, alcohol, and artificial flavors. Here are some details, pros, and cons on the Alkaline diet.
Pro: You might lose weight
Eating the limited numbers of food in the alkaline diet may result in weight loss, as eating mostly produce is associated with having a leaner body. Studies have shown that adults who eat meat have the highest BMIs in their age group, while vegans have the lowest. It has also been found that people who consume more produce, even at the same calorie level as those eating meat, consume more antioxidants, have slimmer waistlines, and lower percentage of body fat than those eating less produce.
Con: However, you may not lose weight
Just because someone is eating superfoods, does not automatically mean they are not eating in excess. Unfortunately, when you consume more calories than your body can use, the surplus of calories ends up feeding fats cells. Portion control is a crucial element of weight loss.
Pro: You may be able to preserve muscle
Being the foundation of an alkaline diet, produce can help the body hold onto muscle mass that in turn burns calories. Muscles atrophy as we age, but studies have shown that older adults who eat more alkalized and fewer proteins and refined grains that are metabolized into acidic residues, were able to keep more muscle mass. The positive effect of the preserved muscle mass can almost make up for the 4.4 pounds of tissue that is lost in aging adults each decade. The loss of lean tissue can negatively impact strength and metabolism, and increase the risk for injury.
Con: There is limited research
Because the human body is already designed to keep a proper pH balance, many professionals believe that an alkaline diet is unnecessary. However, there is limited research on the subject. A recent report reviewing published studies drew mixed conclusions for the benefits of an alkaline diet. The bottom line is that the main benefits of an alkaline diet stem from traditional nutrition guidelines that have been learned several times over, which is to eat more plants and fewer processed foods.
Pro: It may help to retain youthful looks
One major part of an alkaline diet is avoiding refined sugar, which alone can help skin remain youthful. There is a strong connection between sugar intake and the formation of advanced glycation end products, which reduce skin elasticity, resulting in wrinkles.
Con: The diet may get confusing
Deciphering between alkaline and acidic foods is not always common sense. For example, while on may think that lemons and apple cider vinegar would be classified as acidic, they are actually alkaline, due to their metabolic process in the body. Some commonly known healthy foods such as chickpeas, cranberries, and walnuts are also actually classified as acidic. There are several versions of the alkaline vs. acidic food charts available, with some listing the same food in both alkaline and acidic categories. Other charts break down foods into smaller sub categories, such as extremely alkaline or slightly acidic.
Due to the fact that the alkaline diet is a theory rather than a program, there is no exact structure to the diet. Eating as vegan as possible as much as possible essentially sums up the diet in its entirety. Some foods that are always safe of the alkaline diet are broccoli, edamame, almonds, artichokes, kale, and coconut oil.