Alkaline Diet – What Is It?

Health problems abound in this country and much of the information circulating in the public and internet surface around the topic of food. For those who found results to their health problems, they are quick to recommend a particular diet or a special type of food that helped them reach their health goals. Much recently has been recommended by many authorities of gluten free diets, vegan diets, high protein and paleo diets. If you are not ready for a vegan approach, why not try something more moderate, like an alkaline diet?

An alkaline diet is very helpful and may help you achieve great health goals and may quench any concerns that a pure vegan diet you may have. But remember, not all vegan diets are the same.  Essentially an alkaline diet is one that is consists of 70 to 80% fruits and vegetables and the rest starches and meat. This combination assures plenty of fermentable fiber for gastrointestinal health, proper vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, as well as a variety of different chemicals that activate different processes in the liver.

How Does This Work?

Decades ago researchers made an observation that one hour after eating a certain food, the urine pH (a measure for acidity or alkalinity) would change up or down. Broadly, meats and starches would make the urine acidic and most fruits and vegetables would make the urine alkaline. Laboratory testing gave rise to the “acid ash” hypothesis. This test involved burning a food all the way to the ash. The ash would contain what was left after the carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are burned away. The ash would be then tested for pH. This is how the final list of foods is created.

Although this concept of food acidity and alkalinity appears simple, the importance is likely much more complex. It is known that the body very tightly controls its pH. For example the pH of arterial blood is 7.42; venous blood 7.35; and intracellular fluid averages 7.2, with differences within each cell organelle. The reason for the tight regulation is that changes in the pH will change the shape of proteins. As many enzymes are made of proteins, changes here will change the enzyme and make them ineffective, and the cell will die.

The acid type foods, when metabolized for energy, break down completely to carbon dioxide and water. In the body, these combine to form carbonic acid, (H2CO3 which breaks down to H+ and HCO3) the pH of which is 5.5. The H+ is the acid portion, also referred to as a proton, which is, a hydrogen atom without an electron. Should this reaction be allowed to continue unregulated, the cell will fall out of pH range, and will die.

The body has two main areas to remove acid – the kidneys and the lungs. These generally do well to keep up with removing the acid load. But with the current American diet, these systems can be overwhelmed. So to prevent death, this energy creation reaction would stop, and another reaction would be allowed to occur in order to consume the excess protons in keep within a pH range. Reactions that consume these protons are largely synthetic type reactions such as protein manufacturing, fat manufacturing, and others. Once the acid load is removed, energy production can be continued. For example, metabolizing polyphenols, which are found within certain fruits and vegetables, can consume protons, with the byproducts that can be removed in the urine.

So under conditions of stress, which require high levels of energy creation, a lot of carbon dioxide, water, and acid are generated. The counter reaction for metabolizing chemicals like polyphenols will help restore the balance of acid creation and consumption and allow the system to operate at peak stress levels.

The nice part about the alkaline diet is that it allows a person to have a moderated dietary habit. Meats (unprocessed) and starches are allowed, but there is a shift of the remaining foods to more fruits and vegetables in order to optimize metabolism. This is great for those who do not want to become vegan, but still optimize their health.

Where’s The Proof?

Many top athletes have made the move to vegan or near vegan diets and have noted improved athletic performance and even enhanced and lengthened careers. More can be found in the articles below.

Tom Brady Lives Alkaline

‘What the Health’ Is Going On With the NFL Right Now?

The Real-Life Diet of a Vegan NFL Defensive Lineman

NFL veganism? David Carter, Griff Whalen have broken the mold

Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Peak Torque Differences between Vegetarian and Omnivore Endurance Athletes: A Cross-Sectional Study