Are you trying to live a healthier life and want to give the alkaline diet a try? You’re not alone. Lots of people are jumping headfirst into this lifestyle and seeing some really awesome results!
The thing is, it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting into before you start. Dieting can be confusing, and just a quick Google search may not be enough to give you all the information you need to start the alkaline diet effectively. In this article you will find great information about the alkaline diet for beginners. You will find that the alkaline diet has amazing health benefits that will improve your overall health and lifestyle.
Like any diet, once you’ve talked to your doctor, you’re going to need to put together a plan. Going into it blindly is not a recipe for success! In this article we will explain everything you need to know about the alkaline diet, followed by some delicious recipes that you can start with right away. So here are some of the things that you need to know first before you get started on your alkaline diet:
Basics of an Alkaline Diet – What is An Alkaline Diet?
An “alkaline diet” can describe any number of diets that are supposed to affect the alkalinity of the body—in other words, the pH balance of the body. pH describes the hydrogen ion concentration in a fluid. It is basically the acidity level in the fluid, and works on a scale of 0 to 14. A pH of 0 to 6 is considered acid, 7 is neutral and anything above 7 is considered alkaline. Your various body fluids such as urine, saliva and blood, all have certain pH values.
This scale can apply to many other things too, such as the pH of foods or your overall body pH. For instance, the pH of a lemon is around 2, which makes it very acidic, and the pH of baking soda is 9, which makes it alkaline or “base.”
This diet can be counter-intuitive, though. For instance, you might think to yourself, “Oh, okay, I’ll just eat fewer lemons, then, since they’re acidic, right?” Not so fast! It’s all about how your body metabolizes the food you eat. The acidity of the food itself is less important than the acidity of the “ash” (metabolic residue) that it leaves behind once it has been processed by your body. Something that may be acidic outside the body, could in fact produce alkaline results within the body once it has been processed by your cells.
What About Different Foods?
Now, what does all this have to do with your body? It is believed that an alkaline diet can alter the pH balance of your body to make it less acidic (more alkaline) by eating certain foods. This in turn, can have positive health benefits including efficient cellular metabolism, better overall health, and improvement of chronic diseases.
For many years, holistic physicians in Europe and the United States have recognized that there is a link between chronic low grade diseases and acid-alkaline imbalance in the body.(Dr.Susan Brown, The Acid Alkaline Food Guide, 2013). The medical community is now starting to realize the positive health effects of eating alkaline.
The link between Chronic Diseases and Improper pH balance
Our bodies are constantly striving to maintain proper pH balance within our different cells, tissues, and body fluids in order to stay healthy. For example, the pH of blood is strictly maintained at a level of 7.365 to 7.45. Anything above or below this range can actually result in death. So the body does a very good job of making sure this range is never altered no matter what.
Other body fluids such as urine and saliva, can show changes in pH depending on various factors, including what we eat. Our body needs a slightly alkaline pH to work at its best. If a proper pH balance is not maintained, it is likely that the body will be functioning at a low grade metabolic acidosis, which is harmful for the body.
What health problems are associated with this chronic acidosis? Here are just a few: development of osteoporosis, muscle wasting, hormone dysfunction, impaired ability to repair tissue, irritation of the urinary tract, back pain, accelerated aging, high blood pressure, and chronic inflammation, just to name a few.
Eating an alkaline diet is important in neutralizing the large amounts of acids that our bodies produce on a daily basis. Proper pH balance by eating alkalising foods leads to efficient cellular metabolism, which leads to improved health. Many people have experienced real health benefits when consistently eating an alkaline diet.
Benefits of an Alkaline Diet
The purported benefits of an alkaline diet include:
· More energy
· Lower blood pressure
· Better sleep
· Weight loss
· Osteoporosis prevention
· Cancer prevention
· UTI prevention
· Generally better health
Is this all really true? Well, although there isn’t enough scientific evidence yet to “prove” this, more and more scientific studies are now coming out that do support the claims of this diet. Of course, let’s not forget that there are countless examples of people who have changed their lives and turned their health around by eating alkaline. The health benefits are undeniable.
All of these health benefits can indeed be achieved by going on an alkaline diet. Another nice thing about it is that it gives you a specific diet plan for getting these results. It’s a fairly simple “Eat this, not this!” kind of diet, which a lot of people find attractive.
And hey, if it works, you stand to gain a lot from it. For example. if you’re having trouble maintaining your blood pressure, you may want to talk to your doctor about giving the alkaline diet a try.
Alkaline Diet Myths and Misconceptions
Although the alkaline diet has been gaining more recognition in the medical community in recent years, there are still those in the health field that balk at its effectiveness.
Many of those skeptics usually lack a background in nutrition and insist that the alkaline diet doesn’t work because you cant “change” your body pH.
While it’s true that you can’t actually “change” your body pH, you can eat in a manner that will help support your body in maintaining a healthy body ph. Continually having to fight to keep the body in its proper ph balance makes the body weak and susceptible to disease.
Eating an alkaline diet can help ease the burden your body undertakes in neutralizing acids and keeping systems in proper balance. You will be helping your body work at its optimum level and your body will thank you.
Alkaline Diet Food Plan: What You Should Eat to Keep Your pH Balanced
Every person is different and not everyone likes the same foods. Luckily, you can eat a wide variety of foods when you’re on an alkaline diet. Lots of fresh vegetables and some fruit are alkaline, such as:
· Grapefruit, lemons, limes
· Cabbage, brussel sprouts, watercress
· Broccoli, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables
· Carrots and radishes
· Pumpkin and squash
· Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and almonds
· Many kinds of vegetable sprouts such as soy or alfalfa sprouts
· Sprouted bread
· Mung bean, lima bean, white bean, red bean
Should I Eat Meat?
You also have a variety of cooking oils to choose from, such olive oil and avocado oil. The above is not an exhaustive list. It just goes to show the many different types of foods that you can still enjoy on this diet.
If you’ll notice, meat is missing from the list above, and that’s not an oversight. Most alkaline diets encourage the dieter to not eat meat, as it has a tendency to increase the body’s acidity. Does this mean that you can’t eat meat at all? Not necessarily. However, it’s generally better to reduce or avoid eating animal meat altogether.
You don’t have to avoid acidic foods altogether when you’re on an alkaline diet, you just have to aim to keep your consumption low. For example, you can try to plan 80% of your diet with alkaline foods, and then be a bit more loose with the other 20%. Even so, try to choose meats or foods that are low in acidity rather than high acidity.
For a longer, helpful list of common alkaline foods , check our online alkaline food list here. This list will also show you how alkaline or how acidic the foods are (low, medium, high).
Alkaline Diet: Foods That You Should Avoid
While it’s important to know the foods that you should be eating, you’ll also want to know which foods and drinks to avoid while on an alkaline diet. These include:
· Anything high in sugar, especially refined sugar
· Wheat and other processed grains
· Pretty much any “processed” food. (Meaning packaged foods that you get at the store that aren’t whole, close to their original form.)
It’s generally good advice over all to cut out overly processed food if you’re on any diet, though. Much of the processed foods contain ingredients that are unhealthy (such as high fructose corn syrup). You’re better erring on the side of caution by avoiding these foods.
Food Guides and Resources
To get more detail about the acidity and alkalinity of foods, it is advisable to use a resource that will give you a comprehensive list of common alkaline/acid foods. In addition, it is also important to understand the alkaline diet itself. We highly recommend(especially in the beginning), that you get a book that explains the entire diet and its theories in careful detail. The Acid Alkaline Food Guide by Dr. Susan E. Brown is an excellent resource for detailed information about how the alkaline diet works and its benefits. However, one caveat about this book is that the food list they provide at the end of the book is based upon the PRAL method which is not our preferred way of determining alkalinity and acidity of foods. See the section below for more on the different methods of determining food alkalinity.
Finally, another great resource to use is our free Alkaline/Acid online food list. In this comprehensive online food list, you can check out all the common foods and find out which are acidic or alkaline. You can also sort the foods by alphabetical order, level of acidity, or level of alkalinity. Bookmark the alkaline/acid food list page to keep it handy as an easy reference to go back and forth to when you are checking foods. If you have come across additional foods you would like to see added to the list, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to add them.
How Do You Determine the “Alkalinity” of a Food?
There’s no universal standard for what is alkaline and what is not. Unfortunately, sources and studies are conflicting. Some sources may say that you should stay away from red beans or olive oil, while others may say that these are alkaline.
There will always be some ambiguity because there are different processes that are used to determine whether or not a certain food is considered alkaline. Don’t get too bogged down by this and instead focus on the bigger picture: Are you avoiding processed foods? Are you avoiding red meat, or—ideally—most meat?
Try different foods and see how they feel to your body. That is the ultimate litmus test, anyway.
As we’ve discussed, there can be conflicting reports of what’s alkaline and what’s not. If you’ve done any research yet, you’ve probably noticed that different websites will list different foods. We’re not going to say that we’re right about everything, but we tend to favor the blood test method because we feel it’s the most accurate. Our food list is based on this method. Let’s take a look at how alkalinity is determined and you can decide for yourself from there.
Basically, there are two methods:
The Potential Renal Acid Load (PRAL) Method
The PRAL method is as simple as you can get. The food is burned down and the ash that is left behind is measured as alkaline or acidic. The problem with this method is that it is not very alkaline for the alkaline diet. The measured pH of food that has been burned to an ash is not the same as the food being broken down by the body. Some nutrients (and microorganisms) present in the food can have a unique effect on the body. The important factor is to determine whether a food is acid forming or alkaline forming, once consumed by the body.
For example, sugar and yeast are acid forming and present in many foods, but because the sugar tends to burn away with PRAL, it’s not accounted for. This is why you see many food charts showing fruits as being alkaline when in reality, most fruits are acid forming. This is because of their high sugar content.
Blood Tests Method: How the Food Affects the Body
With this investigative method, thousands of people were given blood tests to determine how the food affected their bodies. Robert Young, a major researcher of the alkaline diet, conducted these clinical trials to support this method. It is a more reliable and accurate method because it takes into account all the specific processes of the human body. Also a bit of common sense goes a long way. Normally alkaline foods tend to be fresh and not processed or prepackaged.
One of the main differences between the two methods is its treatment of sugar. Sugar has an acidic effect on your body—and it’s a good idea to avoid too much sugar for many other reasons, too. Yes, this includes many fruits! In this article, we will mostly suggest foods that were determined to be alkaline using the second method. However, we understand that most of us need a touch of sweetness every once in awhile. In our recipes below, we optionally include some sweet fruit, even if they may not be entirely alkaline. We will note which ones these are in the recipe.
How Do You Tell For Yourself What is Alkaline?
Generally speaking, there are some outer signs that give you clues that a food is alkaline. It is not completely random.
Look out for these essential things:
· Gluten free.
· Free of processed and refined grains.
· Meat and dairy free.
· Has little sugar.
· Yeast free (Nothing is 100% free of yeast, since it’s present in the environment naturally), but avoid stuff that has added yeast. For example, bread, kambucha, and other stuff that is processed with fungus would tend to be acidic.
Fermented foods do have benefits for other reasons, but if you’re on an alkaline diet, you may want to avoid them.
· Vegetables are usually alkaline. Especially if they are green and have high water content
· Foods with high mineral content like calcium, magnesium, potassium, Iron , and sodium bicarbonate
In some ways, this is common sense. Basically, you’ll be avoiding processed food, food with too much sugar, and food with microorganisms that can affect your body chemistry. Regardless of your diet, you may want to cut these foods out anyway, for many reasons.
What is a Good pH to Have?
Your blood will naturally have a close-to-neutral pH level, at around 7.35 to 7.45. This means that it tends to be slightly alkaline. The point of an alkaline diet is to help you keep it around neutral to a bit alkaline, and this helps avoid certain types of heath problems. When on an alkaline diet, your urine or saliva pH should ideally be in the 6.5 to 8 range.
One of the easiest ways to check your body pH is to just pee on a pH testing strip. These are inexpensive, non-invasive, and extremely easy to use. They can be used for urine or saliva.
Alkaline Diet Foods List for the Grocery Store: Mind Your Macro Nutrients
Now, one of the mistakes that a lot of people make is jumping right into a diet and not considering the basics. With any diet, you’ll want to make sure that you’re getting enough nutrients for your body to function. Both macro nutrients and micro nutrients are important. What alkaline foods are good to eat?
You might be thinking, “Well, obviously, with the alkaline diet, I’ll be getting all of my veggies!” That’s great, but veggies are only part of the picture. For the most part, a carrot or celery stalk’s claim to fame is that it offers a multitude of important micro nutrients—vitamins, basically.
In order to live, though, you’ll need two important macro nutrients: fat and protein. Without either of these, you will basically starve to death, even if you’re eating tons of food. The third common “macro nutrient,” as they’re called, is carbohydrates. Carbs get a bad rap, but they are an easy source of energy. As long as you don’t overdo it, they’re fine, though a lot of people see great results with low carb diets as well. For instance the Keto diet consists of a low carb diet with high fat and moderate protein consumption.
When you are doing your shopping for your new alkaline diet, pick foods that you really like, but make sure to include the following:
1) A source of fat. For example, a great example of a fatty fruit is the humble avocado. It is full of healthy fat. Nuts and seeds also contain a lot of healthy fat that will help keep you nice and oily. Fat is essential for all kinds of chemical reactions that happen in the body.
2) A source of protein. Protein is needed to build and maintain your muscles, among many other things. Since animal protein is discouraged on the alkaline diet, you’ll want to get your protein from a plant source. Nuts and seeds are a good source of protein, but you should also make sure to stock up on beans. Beans have a lot of protein as well as all kinds of helpful micronutrients. Some fish such as wild caught salmon and trout have a good protein content and are considered low alkaline. Check the alkaline food list for more ideas.
3) Healthy carbs. Obviously, you don’t want to overdo it with sugar. Just because a sugar is not refined, doesn’t mean your body won’t react to it the same was as if you were eating a donut!
Some fruits have been artificially selected to be sugary, such as the common banana. You may want to limit your consumption a bit. Fruits are generally better sources of carbs than processed junk, of course. However, focus on fruits that have lots of fiber and don’t have too many calories that come from carbs. Berries tend to have a lower sugar content and they’ll also keep your digestion flowing well.
Quick and Tasty Alkaline Diet Recipes That You Can Try Out
Short on time and want some recipes for your food prep this week? Here are some interesting alkaline diet recipes that you can put together. If you stick to a simple alkaline diet plan like this, it will automatically conform to the alkaline diet, so it takes the guesswork out of what you can make. Follow this alkaline diet plan for a great start to your week.
Alkaline Diet Breakfast Recipes
Make sure that you get a good breakfast in, as this can affect your mood and energy for the rest of the day. Some good options when you’re on an alkaline diet are:
To make this, you’ll need:
– Non-dairy milk or yogurt, such as almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, or any of their respective cultured non-dairy yogurts.
– Pomegranate, Strawberries or chopped apples. (These may not necessarily be alkaline! So they are optional, and when you use them, use them sparingly.)
– Seeds, such as sunflower seeds. If you prefer a different texture, though, you might try chia seeds or sesame seeds as a good alternative.
– Nuts, such as almonds or cashews.
As you can see, this is a very flexible recipe. You can change things up to suit your taste. All you have to do is take ½ a cup of your favorite non-dairy milk or yogurt and scatter the fruit on top. Sprinkle the nuts and the seeds over that. Mix it up and enjoy!
Strawberry-Banana Hot Morning Cereal
This will be a modified version of an old classic. You will need:
– Some gluten-free oats or quinoa
– Non-diary milk
– Chia seeds
– Sliced almonds
– Strawberries (Optional. Again, not necessarily alkaline, so be reasonable.)
Just as you would with regular oatmeal, cook about 1 cup of your chosen gluten-free grain. If it’s quinoa, it will take a little longer to prepare, of course. Put your milk, your strawberries and your chia seeds into a blender until they are a nice pudding-like consistency. Pour this over your “cereal” and sprinkle the almond slices over it.
The exact amounts of each ingredient will vary according to your tastes and also your caloric needs. If you’re genuinely still hungry, don’t starve yourself—make a bigger batch.
Alkaline Diet Lunch Recipes
For lunch, you’ll want something that has enough calories to keep you going, without being so heavy that you feel like a zombie when you’re at work. Salads and sandwiches are a good go-to lunch, but of course they will have to be modified slightly to avoid wheat. No croutons or bread for you!
– Two avocados, both peeled, pitted, and sliced
– 4 cups of spinach
– 1 cucumber, sliced
– 1/3 cup of sliced almonds
– ¼ cup chopped strawberries (optional)
– ½ cup of olive oil, avocado oil, or your favorite alkaline diet-friendly oil
– ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
What, four cups of spinach? What is up with this huge salad? Well, you need to fill yourself up with healthy food, otherwise you will be hungry, and you will start to crave junk! Naturally, if this is too much for you, reduce the amount. If you feel that it still isn’t enough, you can also increase it, or add more avocado. The avocados and the oil are the most caloric elements of this recipe.
Constructing this salad is pretty straightforward. Cut the spinach up, if it isn’t already, and toss it into a salad bowl. Take your avocados and cucumber and throw it in there, add the strawberries, then sprinkle the almonds over that and pour the oil and vinegar on top. Toss it around with a couple of forks to mix it up.
Dry Trail Mix
– ½ cup dried cherries
– ¼ cup cashews
– ¼ cup almonds (or optionally, chocolate-covered almonds)
– ½ cup sunflower seeds
Mix it all together! Afterwards, you can store it in some mason jars and take it out when you need it. If you’re on the go, some mini mason jars are perfect, and they can fit right in the cup holder of your car.
This makes a lot of trail mix and can last you for awhile. You could also make a salad and add this as toppings to make things more interesting.
Breadless Guacamole Sandwich
If you’re on an alkaline diet, you have to forgo most grains, but this doesn’t mean you can’t have a sandwich! You will need:
– 1 avocado, peeled and pitted.
– 1/8 cup of chopped onion
– ¼ cup of chopped tomato
– Half a lemon.
– A teaspoon of chopped cilantro.
– 1 wide spinach leaf
Mash that avocado up until it’s nice and pasty, then mix in the chopped onions, tomatoes, and cilantro. (You can also use a food processor to do this.) Squeeze the lemon over the mixture once or twice. It doesn’t need to be a lot; this is mostly for just a bit of flavor and to keep the avocado from browning if you plan to store it.
Basically, you’ve just made guacamole. Spread this onto the spinach leaf and enjoy an open-face sandwich of sorts. You can also add a second spinach leaf if you want the full sandwich experience.
Alkaline Diet Dinner Recipes
Now let’s get a little fancier. Light some candles, pour yourself a wine glass full of almond milk (but no alcohol!), and set the table with your best silverware.
– 1 zucchini, sliced thinly so that it resembles pasta
– ¼ cup of fresh basil
– ½ cup of sliced cherry tomatoes
– ¼ cup of walnuts
– ¼ cup of olive oil
– Salt and pepper
Take all of the ingredients, besides the zucchini and the tomatoes, and throw them into a blender. Now blend, blend, blend…until they’re a paste. Pour the paste over your zucchini and mix it up. Sprinkle the tomatoes on top.
Riced Vegetables and Beans
Missing your grains already? It’s all good! Let’s emulate the texture a little by “ricing” some vegetables.
– ½ cup of cauliflower, cut up very small, so that it is “riced”
– ½ cup of broccoli, same as above
– ½ cup of soy beans
– ¼ cup of olive oil
– ¼ cup of fresh basil
Mix all of the ingredients together and now you have some modified “rice and beans” that avoid the usual acidic grains.
Is My Alkaline Diet Working?
These are just some recipes to get your started. If you would like more easy and delicious alkaline recipes, you can get our free 7 day alkaline meal plan here. It contains 28 alkaline foods recipes including breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks , desserts, smoothies, and drinks.
One you have started eating alkaline for a week or two, you may want to check your urine or saliva pH. You can do a quick and easy check with pH test strips to see if there are any changes in the pH of your body fluids. The ideal range should be a pH of around 6.5 to 7.5 or 8. Sometimes the pH of saliva may be a little more alkaline than the urine. This is because the kidneys flush out a lot of acids daily and so it takes a little more time to see a change in the alkalinity of urine. Ultimately your best gauge will be how great you feel and those pounds you will be shedding.
Does Everything Have to Be Alkaline?
Finally, let’s talk about extremes. Does everything in your diet have to be alkaline for you to see benefits? No. You can see benefits from reducing your consumption of processed foods and grains, even if you do indulge a little bit. As we discussed before, even just getting 80% of the way there will put you in a better position than someone who is eating, say, the Standard American Diet.
Clean up your diet using the alkaline diet plan as your starting point, and you’re bound to see all kinds of benefits. Many people feel more energetic, and of course a lot of people tend to lose weight.
The key is to make this sustainable for you. You don’t want to be on a diet that you adopt for a few weeks and then go back to your usual habits. You want a diet that you can be on forever. If this means making some compromises and consuming food that is not necessarily alkaline every once in awhile, that is ok! The 80% alkaline to 20% acidic ratio is a great ratio to follow. Moderation is the important thing here, and having a slice of bread every few weeks probably isn’t going to hurt.
Good luck on your dieting journey and remember to always use common sense!
Elena Daisley is a licensed Clinical Laboratory Scientist (MT, ASCP certified) with over 10 years of experience in the medical field. She holds bachelor’s degrees in both Biology and Laboratory Science from the University of Central Florida. Elena enjoys helping others on their journey to healthier living.