You may have been hearing about the value of a highly alkaline diet. More and more health experts and studies are emerging about the benefits of this old – yet new – approach to diet.
Spurred initially by French biologist Claude Bernard who observed in an experiment that altering the diet of rabbits from an herbivore to a carnivore one changed the urine from alkaline to acid.
What does it mean to ‘go alkaline’ and what are the reputed benefits?
Let’s dig in to see…
Followers of an alkaline diet (also known as the acid alkaline diet, and alkaline ash diet,) do so due to the research that certain types of foods affect the acidity of bodily fluids, including the blood and urine. Affecting acidity (measured by the pH level of the bodily fluids) is thought to treat or prevent diseases and conditions. One of the many conditions a high alkaline diet is thought to help is osteoporosis. (1)
Time To Bone Up
It is believed that diets high in acid producing elements cause the body to buffer (or counteract) additional acid load in the body by breaking down bone (this is because calcium, taken from the bones, has the ability to sponge up the acidity).
This results in a net loss of calcium, leading to an increased risk for osteoporosis. The American Dietetic Association, in a publication of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, has advanced this theory via a position statement and gone on to state that foods high in magnesium and potassium (such as some fruits and vegetables) may decrease the risk of osteoporosis due to increased alkaline ash production.
The Diet of the Ages?
There is growing interest in following the habits of our most ancient ancestors.
The logic behind this movement is that whatever they ate, and their physicality were habits that gave them survival advantages in a very competitive and hostile world. Advantages that allowed them to survive long enough to pass their genes to future generations – namely you and I.
A diet that is highly alkaline sometimes falls within what you may have heard called ‘The Paleo Diet’. (2) It’s the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that our ancestors ate during the Paleolithic era—a period of approximately 2.5 million years which changed around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture, and diets centered around grain.
Many will say ‘wasn’t agriculture an advancement? Why do we want to return to a more primitive time?’ Yes, agriculture was an advance, as our days were no longer filled with hunting and gathering. But instead, planting in the spring and harvesting in the fall allowed us much more free time to philosophize, invent, create – and much, much more.
However, the latest science has shown that the agricultural diet itself was not an advantage, only the free time and huge volume of food that it provided. The simple diet of plants and animals served humans well for over 2 million years. The relatively recent agrarian period of a mere 10 000 years is a new experiment in comparison. And the preliminary results, if you look around you, show that the average person can be in better health.
Obesity, diabetes, heart conditions all seem ‘normal’. However, they are new phenomenons, are actually abnormal if you look at the long view of history, and can be reduced greatly with smart dietary choices the ancients would approve of.
The Choice to Be Healthy Is Yours To Make
pH balance comes down to your everyday food choices. A growing number of experts feel your health, longevity, and even propensity for disease hinge on your pH balance. Simple ways to make better choices include:
- avoid red meat and instead pick white meat or seafood.
- choose yeast-free bread or wild rice, rather than rolls or fries.
- drink soy or almond milk instead of cow’s milk.
- base meals on vegetables, more than meat or starches.
- reach for water and herbal tea over alcoholic beverages.
- reduce saturated fats or butter and cook with cold-pressed olive oil instead.
- order dressings, condiments, and sauces on the side as they contain lots of hidden acids.
- if you find it hard to break the habit of hours on the couch, try exercising as you do (getting up and at least stretching every 20 minutes for 5 minutes can make significant differences in your health).