Alkaline diets are a popular choice for people who want to achieve optimum good health. However, many people don't actually understand this diet or how it works. The concept is actually fairly simple - the diet just focuses on regaining the balance that was lost when man started to eat a more domesticated diet. Instead of focusing on foods that are high in sugar, fat, and cholesterol, an alkaline diet primarily consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy whole grains, wholesome protein sources such as soy, beans and legumes, and healthy oils such as canola, olive and flax seed. These foods may be either alkaline or acid in their natural state, but they all produce what is termed as an "alkaline ash" once digested and metabolised by the body. When the body's pH is kept at a slightly alkaline level, all the systems can work more efficiently.
In the average American diet, many consume foods which are too acidic to effectively promote and maintain a healthy body.
Some examples of these acidic sources we consume are refined sugars, dairy products, and meat, such as, beef and pork.
There are different side effects that result from a high-acid diet, such as, a diminished immune system and lethargy.
A sugar high can feel good every once in a while when eating rocky road ice cream, but remember that unless you attempt to alkalize your body, you run the risk of a crash as a result.
Alkalizing the body is not difficult, but, in order to understand the benefits of doing so, one must first understand the definition of alkaline foods, how they work with the body, and which foods in particular will counteract the effects of their acidic counterparts.
What Is Alkaline?
Alkaline is defined as that which has a pH greater than 7. Because the body functions best at a pH level of about 7.4, it is important to consume foods which will bring those levels up to an appropriate level.
This is especially crucial when consuming foods which are acidic, and, which, will bring those levels lower than they should be.
Pure, distilled water sits at almost exactly 7 on the pH scale. Foods with a higher number are alkaline, while anything that is lower than 7 is considered acidic.
Benefits Of An Alkaline Diet
As a general rule, foods can be classified as either acid-forming or alkaline forming.
The human body‘s pH is 7.35, or slightly alkaline. The body is always seeking a state of homeostasis (balance) and it works hard to maintain the healthy neutral alkaline zone.
Now, keep in mind that foods in in of themselves cannot change this zone in the body, but, the body does have to work extra hard to compensate for the intake of acid-forming foods that are ingested in excess.
This happens because when your diet is highly acidic the body has to leech calcium from the bones, as calcium is an alkalizing mineral. Over time this can lead to bone mineral loss, which, can result in osteoporosis.
Additionally, as a stressor it can lead to inflammation along with increased cortisol levels, and this can impact overall health in the long term.
Conversely, those foods that are alkaline forming are typically plant-based and highly nutrient dense, and also loaded with antioxidants.
Including a variety of alkaline-forming foods in your diet allows the slowing of the leech of calcium from the bones, and this results in improved bone health.
These foods also support healthy cell regeneration and fights the effects of free-radicals on the body.
Since it is the pH level of blood which concerns us, putting additional acidic foods into our diets actually works against the human system. When more strain is put on the body to fight sickness and disease, it is no wonder a highly acidic diet might make one feel tired and lethargic.
Understanding the Effects of the Body's pH Level
The pH level of the body has the ability to affect every single cell of the body. When the blood has an alkaline pH instead of an acidic pH, it will have a positive effect on how every bodily system functions. The brain, circulatory system, nerves, muscles, respiratory system, digestive system, and reproductive system can all benefit from a proper pH level. On the other hand, when the pH of the body is too acidic, it is susceptible to many diseases and problems. Weight gain, heart disease, premature aging, fatigue, nerve problems, allergies, muscle disease and cancer are all more prevalent when the body's pH is not optimal. Because these problems are all more likely to occur when the body's pH is too acid, it makes good sense to eat a diet rich in alkalizing foods. The primary goal is usually to eat approximately 75-80% alkaline foods along with only about 20-25% acidifying foods. If this level is maintained in the diet, the end result is a slightly alkaline pH in the body, which is perfect for optimum good health.
Choosing Foods for an Alkaline Diet
It's actually quite easy to eat a diet rich in alkaline-producing foods. Most fresh fruits and vegetables are excellent choices. Red meat is not a good choice, but you can add plenty of protein to your meals by using soy products, delicious beans, legumes, and nuts such as almonds. You should eliminate unhealthy fats from your diet, but you can use good fats such as olive, canola, and flax seed oil. High-fat dairy products should be avoided, but you can drink soy milk and goat's milk. Cheeses made from soy milk and goat's milk would also be good choices. Replace the empty calories of soda with delicious iced herb tea, green tea and lemon water. Coffee should be avoided, but you can drink hot herbal or green tea. Replace pasta with healthy whole grains such as wild rice, millet and quinoa. When sweetening your foods, focus on natural products such as raw sugar, Stevia and maple sugar. As you can see, you'll have many nutritious choices that are both delicious and high in alkalising properties.
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