You may have overheard your friends talk about alkaline diet and they may say a lot of things about it. Some say it is a healthy way of eating because you decrease the acid load in the body. You may be wondering whether it is true or not? In here, you will look into the pros and cons of alkaline diet and why it is good for you?
The Essential Role of a Balance pH in the Human Body?
First, you need to understand the body’s pH so you can fully grasp where the alkaline diet concept came about. You know that every living thing on earth maintain a balance pH in order to survive. For humans, it is essential to maintain a balance pH level of 7.4 for them to survive. A slightly alkaline pH means around 7.35 to 7.45.
Every living things depends on the appropriate pH level, for instance the healthy growth of plants depends on the ideal pH of the soil. The amounts of minerals that you can get from the vegetables you eat, depends on the soils pH. For you to get the most value of the essential nutrients, the soil needs to have a pH of 6 to 7.
If the soil is acidic which a pH below 6 is, it may reduce the magnesium and calcium content of the vegetables. A soil above pH 7 may result to unavailability of zinc, copper, iron and manganese.
For the human diet, there has been a considerable change in the pH load since the hunter times to the present civilization. The industrialization has decreased the amount of potassium as compared to sodium. There is also an increase in chloride compared to bicarbonate in the human diet.
There is a reversed change in the ratio of potassium to sodium. Previously, the Potassium and Sodium is 10 is to 1. Presently, the ratio of modern diet is now 1 to 3.
Over time, people have learned to accept that their diet is poor in potassium, magnesium and fiber. And the human diet is more on saturated fat, sodium, simple sugars and chloride. This kind of diet may cause metabolic acidosis which is not genetically determined as a normal nutritional requirement.
As one age, there is a slow decline in the renal acid-base regulatory function. This may result to an increase risk of having a diet that causes metabolic acidosis. The modern diet is usually comprised of a low carbohydrate and high protein diet which is characterized with increase acid load.
Although, it may cause little change in the pH and blood chemistry, it may cause changes in the urinary chemistry. This means that the urinary citrate, urinary magnesium and pH are decreased while the urinary calcium, phosphate and undissociated uric acid are increased. If this is the case, there is a higher risk to acquire kidney stones.
What are the Alkaline Rich Foods?
These are the foods that you should take in for you to have a negative acid load:
Alkali-rich and low-phosphorus beverages like red and white wine and mineral soda waters
Foods with High Acid Load
Below are the foods that you need to take in moderation, so you won’t have a high acid load:
Alkali poor and high phosphorus beverages including cocoa and pale beers
While Alkaline diet is good for you?
As you age, you lose some muscle mass, which makes you more prone to falls and fractures. In a three year study of Hughes and colleagues, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables which literally means low acid load foods, results in a preservation of muscle mass of elderly population.
A person suffering from chronic renal failure which is a result of chronic metabolic acidosis can predispose to accelerated breakdown of the skeletal muscle. Therefore, it is important to correct any acidosis to preserve the muscle mass particularly in conditions that promotes muscle wasting such as:
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Acute Acidosis: What is the Best Supplement to Take?
Unfortunately, there are some people who suffer with acute acidosis, if this is a case; younger individuals may take sodium bicarbonate supplements, prior to an exhausting exercise. This will help reduce acidosis in the blood as compared with those who did not take any supplements.
You know for the fact that, severe form of metabolic acidosis has an adverse effect particularly in children. For example, condition like renal tubular acidosis may result to decline in growth hormone which may cause short stature. Thus, correcting acidosis may increase growth hormone and improved the child’s growth.
Taking potassium citrate or bicarbonate can help correct acidosis. This is also true for post menopausal women, study of Frasetto and colleagues, showed that diet high in potassium bicarbonate can neutralize the net acid load. It can also increase the growth hormone and osteocalcin.
If the growth hormone levels are improved the quality of life will also improved. It will also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular events, improve memory and cognition and improve the body composition. It will also gradually decrease the urinary calcium loss which is equivalent to 5% of the bone calcium in a period of 3 years.
Supplementation of alkaline minerals can also help improve chronic low back pain. It can also help increase the intracellular magnesium and blood pH. If there is enough amount of intracellular magnesium, there will be a proper functioning of the body’s enzyme and it also allows the activation of Vitamin D which will improve the back pain.
Is Alkaline Diet Back Up with Scientific Studies?
There are limited studies as to the health benefits of alkaline diet considering that it is relatively new in the field. Nevertheless, it would be prudent to consider alkaline diet and supplements considering that it can help reduce the morbidity and mortality of chronic diseases that plague the aging population.
Dawson-Hughes B, Harris SS, Ceglia L. (2008). Alkaline diets favor lean tissue mass in older adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. , 662-665.
Frassetto L, Morris RC, Jr., Sebastian . (1997). Potassium bicarbonate reduces urinary nitrogen excretion in postmenopausal women. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. , 254-259.
Gerry K. Schwalfenberg . (2012). The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Health? J Environ Public Health.