The alkaline diet has become the latest diet trend because of the touted preventative health benefits, but do alkaline diet foods really make your body more alkaline?
Eating an alkaline diet helps the blood pH level to stay in balance without as much effort. This does not mean we should eliminate acidic foods from our diet altogether; it simply means we need to shift the balance from the typically acidic diet to a more alkaline diet.
Our body, whether or not we eat alkaline foods, maintain pH in that delicate window between 7.35 and 7.45. Our kidneys and lungs ensure that acid-base balance is maintained. (Read how the body regulates pH.)
When one consumes too much acid-forming foods, the body’s organs work harder to bring our normal balanced pH back. This puts stress on the body that then creates more acid.
Eating an alkaline diet will allow our bodies to maintain that pH balance without too much effort. We are helping our bodies recover and get stronger just by the food we eat!
To maintain our body’s normal pH, we need to know which foods are alkaline or acidic. How alkaline or acidic the food is before you eat it does not always determine the pH effect it will have on your body after you digest it.
For example, citrus fruits like lemons are very acidic. However when digested by the body, their end products are alkaline so lemons are alkaline-formers. Knowing what foods are alkaline can help you to eat healthier and feel better.
In general, foods that are not processed and those that are closest to its natural state when consumed by the body tend to alkaline. That being said, processed foods are considered acidic.
Almost all fruits, vegetables, nuts (includes coconut oil), and herbs have an alkalinizing effect on the body but their degree of alkanility varies. Some food types, once processed into butters, turn acidic.
Nearly all animal proteins (dairy, meat, poultry, eggs) have an acidic effect. Most beans and legumes, protein sources for vegetarians, are also in the acidic list.
You can get a comprehensive table on which foods are alkaline and acidic here. Food charts vary but the principles are the same:
A good rule of thumb is that 60-80% of our diet should be from more alkaline foods, and 20-40% more acidic foods.