Vegetables and fruit are the main Alkaline foods. If you want to avoid the effects of acidity then an alkaline diet is the way to go. Here are the most beneficial foods to eat.
What Can You Eat on an Alkaline Diet
The alkaline diet has nothing to do with weight loss. That alone makes it very different from most of the diets you hear about these days.
The alkaline diet is a diet that aims to make the body more alkaline and, by doing so, make it more resistant to disease.
A lot of the foods people eat cause the body to become more acid. Foods that are processed and/or high in sugar are prime offenders.
Many people try to avoid these types of food anyway because they can contribute to weight gain and have a negative effect on the health.
However, meat and fish can make the body acidic too. So can certain dairy products (these are some worst foods for gut health). The alkaline diet favors alkaline foods, most of which are fruit and vegetables.
People who eat an alkaline diet can eat small quantities of acid food too but their diet needs to predominantly consist of alkaline foods.
As you will probably remember from your chemistry lessons at school acids and alkalies are at opposite ends of the pH scale. When mixed in the right quantities they cancel each other out.
Because the alkaline diet provides mostly alkaline foods, it ensures the body is taken past the neutral stage and becomes alkaline.
People who favor the alkaline diet believe their alkaline food choices will provide many health benefits including reducing the risk of disease.
The alkaline diet may also help with weight loss but it’s not a primary aim.
So much for the theory. If you want facts to back it up, they are thin on the ground. The pros and cons of the alkaline diet require further study.
However, the diet enforces healthy food choices that may entail improvements in natural gut health.
Acids Vs. Alkaline: A Quick Chemistry Refresher
The pH scale shows you if something is an acid, a base (alkaline), or neutral.
A pH level of zero shows a high level of acidity. Battery acid has a pH level of zero and pure water has a pH of 7 (neutral).
At the other end of the scale, drain cleaner has a pH of 14.
Symptoms of Excess Acidity
When the body is too acidic it may cause a variety of issues including:
- Lack of energy
- Dry hair and skin
- Weak nails
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain and cramps
- Nasal congestion/excess mucous production
- Increased susceptibility to colds, flu, and other infections
Of course, these symptoms can also indicate any number of other health problems. When you experience health issues the best thing to do is discuss your concerns with a doctor. There is no substitute for professional medical advice.
Alkaline Diet Guidelines
If you want to eat an alkaline diet you need to try and make sure 75 percent of the food you eat is alkaline. The remaining 25 percent should be acidic.
For many people, a switch to the alkaline diet will probably entail eating more fruit and vegetables.
This will, of course, help them to meet or exceed the five pieces of fruit and vegetable health experts say people need to eat every day.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Leafy greens like spinach and kale are highly nutritious alkaline foods. If you want to be kind to your body, make sure they are no stranger to your plate.
Leafy greens are excellent sources of calcium and Vitamin K, both of which help keep your bones nice and strong.
They also provide plenty of Vitamin C to help keep your immune system fighting fit, along with iron to help your body produce hemoglobin.
Leafy greens also provide prebiotic fiber to feed the probiotic bacteria in your gut.
Sweet potatoes are another good alkalizing food that is rich in nutrients and dietary fiber.
Using sweet potatoes in place of normal potatoes is a good way to up your intake of Vitamin A, which boosts immune function and helps provide healthy skin and eyes.
You may be surprised to learn a single sweet potato can more than cover the RDA for Vitamin A.
If you want to get the most from your sweet potatoes, don’t peel off the skin. It provides a lot of the fiber and is also where most of the antioxidants are.
Although eating more carrots won’t give you eyes like Superman, carrots provide beta carotene, which supports healthy vision.
Cooking your carrots before eating is a good way to maximize beta carotene absorption.
Some research suggests carrots may also lower cholesterol levels and offer protection from certain types of diseases.
And, yes, eating carrots is another good way to keep your body at the right side of the pH scale (alkaline).
Cauliflower is an alkaline cruciferous vegetable that’s high in fiber and provides several B-vitamins.
The high fiber content of cauliflower may help prevent inflammation and reduce the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Cauliflower also provides choline, which aids nerve impulse transmission and helps maintain cell membrane integrity.
Choline is also linked to sounder sleep and better learning capabilities. So learn to love your cauliflower but go steady with cauliflower cheese. Cheese contains lactic acid that may make your meal acidic.
Broccoli is another nutrient-dense cruciferous vegetable you should consider adding to your plate.
The results of a study conducted in China suggest eating regular portions of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables may improve cardiovascular health and overall longevity.
As well as being alkaline and high in nutrients and antioxidants, zucchini is very good for gut health.
Zucchini flesh is high in water. This helps it to soften the stools and make them easier to pass. Zucchini further supports gut health by providing generous amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber.
Due to its prebiotic nature, zucchini feeds the bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in the gut.
SCFAs help maintain intestinal health and may also reduce the symptoms of certain bowel disorders including Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic are alkaline and prebiotic. That’s two good reasons to eat more of them both but there are many more.
Even if you were to forget the health benefits, using more onions and garlic is a cheap way to add extra flavor to meals.
If you have concerns about preparing the onions, cutting into them does not have to reduce you to tears. Chilling the onions in a fridge for 15 minutes reduces the potency of the enzyme that irritates the eyes.
More Alkaline Vegetables
A few more alkaline vegetables include:
- Bamboo shoots
- Brussels Sprouts
- String beans
When it comes to convenience, bananas are an alkaline food that’s pretty hard to beat. There’s no need to wash them and they are incredibly easy to peel.
Bananas don’t take a lot of chewing either so, in many ways, you could see them as a lazy person’s fruit.
A good source of potassium and vitamin B6, bananas offer several health benefits including improved digestion. This is largely due to their fiber content.
The interesting thing about bananas is their fiber content changes as they ripen. Unripe bananas are high in pectin and resistant starch.
Research suggests foods that contain pectin may offer protection against colon issues.
As bananas ripen, they become lower in pectin and resistant starch and higher in sugar. That means ripe bananas are better for providing energy but unripe ones are better for your gut.
One of the world’s healthiest fruits, pomegranates are another great addition to an alkaline diet.
As well as being a potent source of vitamins and minerals, pomegranates provide a couple of other interesting compounds.
Punicalagins are powerful antioxidants that occur in the fruit juice and peel. Research shows their value as antioxidants exceeds that of red wine and green tea.
Punic acid is present in pomegranate seed oil. It’s a form of conjugated linoleic acid that is good for the muscles and may help support weight loss.
Small and juicy, kiwi fruit is full of vitamins and is especially good for providing vitamins C, K, E, and folate.
Some research suggests the combination of Vitamin C and antioxidants in Kiwi fruit may improve the lung function of people suffering from asthma.
Kiwi fruit also provides a digestive enzyme called actinidin that can enhance the body’s ability to process most proteins.
Pineapple is another sweet-tasting tropical fruit you can add to an alkaline diet.
Like kiwi fruit, it provides a digestive enzyme that helps break down protein.
It’s called bromelain and, as well as aiding digestion, bromelain is good for reducing muscle pain.
Cherries are rich in Vitamin C. They also provide antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
A clinical review of several research studies suggests eating regular helpings of cherries can be an effective way to reduce inflammation.
Some evidence suggests cherries can enhance physical performance during exercise and then help speed muscle recovery when the training is done.
Cherries may also be a good fruit to eat last thing at night because the compounds they provide can increase melatonin and help you to sleep.
More Alkaline Fruits
When it comes to choosing alkaline fruits, there’s plenty of choices. Other good options include:
You may be surprised to learn lemons are good additions to an alkaline diet as well.
Although they are acidic when they enter the body, after they have been metabolized they become alkaline. The same is true for most citrus fruit.
Although pure water has a neutral pH, the water that comes from the faucet generally does not. The chemicals the water company use for treating the water turn it slightly acidic.
Filtering your water is a good way to stop your pH going the wrong way, but drinking mineral water is a better option. The presence of minerals like magnesium and calcium causes it to become alkaline.
Research published in the Biology of Sport shows mineral-based alkaline water also boasts superior hydration abilities.
Pure, unsweetened green tea is an alkaline drink. It’s also an excellent source of antioxidants and is said to be the healthiest beverage in the world.
Some people drink green tea to lose weight, others drink it to fight aging.
Green tea is also known to be good for the heart and may reduce the risk of cancer and diabetes.
The fact that it’s an alkaline drink is just another feather in a very impressive cap.
What Foods Do You Eat on an Alkaline Diet – Summary
Although it requires further study, the alkaline diet is associated with many health benefits.
Perhaps more importantly, a lot of the foods the diet forces people to limit or avoid are known to be unhealthy on many levels.
Hamburgers are a prime example. Apart from causing your body to become more acidic, they contain saturated fats that can clog up the arteries and cause heart disease.
Sugary foods are another good example. As well as making your body more acidic, they can cause weight gain and are bad for the teeth.
Sugary foods also feed the bad bacteria in your gut. By doing this, they can disrupt the normal gut microbiome.
Many alkaline foods by contrast, such as garlic and onions, provide prebiotic fiber that nourishes the good (probiotic) bacteria.
Because alkaline foods are plant-based, they also provide antioxidants that can further benefit the health by helping purge the body of free radical toxins.
Unlike many other diets, the alkaline diet is not about eating less food in general. It’s about making smarter food choices.
These dietary tweaks have the potential to improve the health in numerous ways.