Why The Alkalinity Of The Foods You Eat Matters For Your Health
You’ve probably heard by now that the acidity (or alkalinity) of the foods and beverages you consume on a daily basis matters for a variety of health reasons. Proponents of the (appropriately named) alkaline diet believe that sticking with predominantly alkaline foods can help with weight loss, prevent health problems ranging from arthritis to cancer, balance the pH levels of your blood and digestive system, reduce inflammation throughout your body, keep your immune system healthy and more. While the science behind these claims is still pretty limited, there are some major benefits to enjoying alkaline foods (and avoiding acidic ones) that can’t be refuted.
First, let’s address how your body deals with acidity. Your stomach maintains a natural pH balance of 3.5 or below in order to break down and digest the foods you eat. Your urine pH then fluctuates (anywhere from 4.5 to 8) based on the kinds of foods your digestive system has to process. By consistently eliminating any unhealthy accumulation of acid in the stomach, your urine allows for your blood pH to remain slightly alkaline between 7.35 and 7.45 consistently.
But the idea that your body needs dramatic assistance from you to maintain proper pH levels is flawed. These systems are biologically designed to constantly aim for homeostasis, or a state of balance. Now, that doesn’t mean that constantly eating less-than-optimal foods will make your body happy with you. When you load up on the processed foods and all of the other acidic foods the typical American diet is known for, your body has to work that much harder to deal with the higher acid load. And eventually, it gets tired of pushing and pushing to fix what you’re breaking, so to speak.
So, the legitimacy in the alkaline diet lies not in how it interprets your body’s mechanics, but rather in the fact that all of the foods it recommends are genuinely good for you. Most alkaline diet lists you come across on the internet that help you distinguish acid-forming foods from alkaline-forming foods will reveal a few common trends. First, the bulk of green vegetables are fair game. Second, most meat and dairy products are to be avoided. And third, anything sugary, refined and processed should stay far, far away from your dinner table.
Any nutrition expert out there can tell you that, pH levels aside, there are major health benefits to following these dietary guidelines. You easily load up on all the vitamins and minerals your body needs, avoid inflammation from chemically-altered food products and skip all of the filler, unnecessary calories that lead to unwanted weight gain. Not everyone loves the idea of eating predominantly vegetarian from a protein perspective, but research does support the idea that a plant-based diet is one of the healthiest ones available to us.
It’s also worth noting that the alkaline foods list avoids pretty much all common food allergies entirely. Can’t do peanuts? No problem. Gluten-sensitive? No worries. All of the foods that easily trigger inflammatory reactions are nixed from the approved foods list. It does mean that you have to put a certain amount of time and care into preparing your own food, which is what makes this diet difficult to follow for many people. But it also guarantees that you can avoid any unwanted food reactions by sticking with these certain foods.
And lastly, because the alkaline way of eating relies so heavily on plants and cuts out most animal-based foods and products that require additional packaging, it’s very kind to the environment. Experts have suggested that veganism is one of the easiest ways to reduce our impact on the planet, and others have shown just how costly it is to eat meat on a regular basis. Plus, we all know that a lot of food packaging just winds up in landfills anyway. So, when it comes to Mother Nature, the alkaline diet checks all three of these boxes.
At the end of the day, even if you don’t care about your body’s pH whatsoever, know that leaning into alkaline foods can be dramatically helpful to your overall health. And hey, not many fad diets can say that.