With the advancements in food agriculture and technology there has been a shift from what our hunter-gather ancestors ate. In the western world people are consuming increased amounts of grains, milk, cheese, meat, sugar and salt.
The thought is that over consumption of these foods makes the body over ‘acidic’ making one more perceptible to colds and flu.
We start by exploring pH, pH is determined by an elements affinity with hydrogen, acids are formed when elements combine with hydrogen and alkalis are formed when they do not combine with hydrogen. Acids and alkalis are measured on a scale of 1-14 with 7 being neutral.
|More Acidic||Neutral||More Alkaline|
PH and the Body:
The cells and tissues of our body work optimally at various pH levels, for example the stomach has a pH between 2 and 4, our blood has as pH of 7.3-7.4.
It is important body maintains a balance of acid and alkali to allow essential reactions to take place in the cells and tissues. The body has regulatory mechanisms in place to maintain this balance.
The organs primarily involved in this process are the lungs through our carbon dioxide and oxygen exchange by breathing and and kidneys through the urine.
The Alkaline Diet:
The premise of the alkaline diet is that when food is broken down by the body it produces an alkaline or acid ‘ash’. The type of ash produced is dependant upon the protein, sulphur and mineral content of the food.
It is the belief that many diseases are caused by excess acid accumulation in the body. Thus advocates of the Alkaline diet claim that by eating mostly alkaline forming foods one can avoid creating an acidic environment in the body.
|Acid forming foods||Alkali forming foods|
Grains and Flour products
(Pasta, Bread, Breakfast cereals)
Soy beans, soy milk, tofu
Apple cider/ balsamic vinegar
There is a difference between acidic foods and acid-forming foods. For example lemons and citrus fruits are acidic but they actually have an alkalising effect on the body.
How to Control the Body’s pH Levels Through Diet:
To support a healthy acidic-alkaline balance within the body is simple make sure you eat more alkaline producing foods than acid producing foods.
It is not recommended to completely avoid acidic forming foods as they are still required for optimal health.
Measuring your acid-alkali balance:
Advocates of the alkaline diet test the pH of their urine using litmus paper, the resulting pH is compared on a reference chart.
Whether this is a valuable indication of the body’s pH is still to be determined. However, it is asserted that the pH of your urine is not a reflection of the pH of your blood.
The Pros and Cons of the Alkaline diet:
– Encourages more rainbow fruit and vegetables providing immune boosting nutrients.
– Health benefits associated with the reduction (not exclusion) of acid foods in the diet.
– There needs to be more science:
Medical circles acknowledge that extreme cases where body is very acid or very alkali can lead to serious problems and death. Not recognised are the subtle changes in acid alkali balance and ill health.