The alkaline diet is the last hit among stars like Victoria Beckham, Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kirsten Dunst. The English ayurvedic physician from Indian origin Nish Joshi is its main supporter and follower.
In fact every food we metabolize is broken down to alkaline or acid elements. Body fluid is slightly alkaline, blood has pH = 7.41. No matter what kind of food we eat, there are mechanisms in our body which keep constant pH of blood. This pH is assumed as neutral with very slight alkalescency (7 is neutral pH, less than 7 is acid, as 2 is strong acid, above 7 is alkaline). If we deliver acid producing food, the body starts to use alkaline elements from our resources in order to neutralize this acidity and to keep neutral pH of blood and the liquid medium.
Our body is not capable of compensating this acid-base misbalance forever and when we abuse with unbalanced nutrition for a long time there comes a moment we get ill. So our meal is very important. The mineral content of a food makes it acid or alkaline. For example some of the elements which form bases are calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and acid-forming are phosphorus, sulfur, chlorine, iodine, manganese. We change our acid-base medium with each food taken by our body – if we eat food with acidic pH we import acidity.
The sour taste of a food doesn’t mean it is acid-forming. Mature lemons are sour for example but they fall into the alkaline foods column because their mineral content of alkaline microelements is very high and they import alkalescency. In summary mature fruits and vegetables and some herbs are alkalizing. Coffee, meat proteins, animal fats, refined food, synthetic vitamins, all E numbers and artificial additives (color additives, raising agents, preservatives, artificial sweeteners ), soft drinks, drugs, thermally processed food are acidifying. The more vitamins and minerals a food contains, the more it alkalizes your body.
A study published in The European Journal of Nutrition in 2001 emphasizes how important it is to balance between the levels of acids and bases in our body and how their imbalance leads to diseases, chronic metabolic acidosis, lowered muscle and bone mass, kidney stone formation etc.
A balanced diet has 40% acidic and 60% alkaline foods, like bean, soya, bean sprouts, avocado, bananas, grapefruit, lemons, mango, green vegetables (lettuce, salads, onion, leek, spinach, parsley, dill etc.), cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, turnip, squash, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, artichoke, asparagus, kohlrabi, red cabbage, garlic, cauliflower, radishes, beetroot, celery, peas, lentils, buckwheat, spelt bread, dates, figs, raisins, hazelnuts, almonds, olive oil, flaxseed and sesame oil, tofu, royal jelly, herbal teas, ginger, some types of mineral water etc.
Alkaline insufficiency is overcome by increased physical activity as well. Practicing any sport speeds up metabolism and we throw out accumulated poisons by sweating and remove carbon dioxide and alkalize blood with deep breathing. Stays in the mountains at 1700 height together with everyday transitions lead to 100% revival of red blood cells in ten days thus our organism purifies and fills with energy.
Our acid-base balance influences the large intestine metabolism. Prebiotics as inulin are the food for probiotics or bifidobacteria the so called ‘good bacteria’ and should be an integral part of our diet.
Inulin is a polydisperse mixture of chains of fructose units and one glucose unit or in other words – these are soluble diet fibers, which aren’t broken down by mouth, stomach and small intestine enzymes and which reach the large intestine where anaerobic fermentation occurs and provides broth for ‘the good bacteria’. Inulin has very low glycemic index, low calories (1,5 kcal/g) and is suitable for diabetics because of its 95% content of fructose which does not need insulin for breaking down. The largest amount of inulin is found in chicory and artichoke (15-20%), earth apple, beans, garlic etc. Consuming foods with prebiotics protects us from large intestine diseases and helps in absorption of calcium and magnesium salts. Jerusalem artichokes or earth apple is elixir for the large intestine as is the fresh lemon juice for the stomach and the small intestine.
If you have chosen to try the alkaline regime it is reasonable to start with small changes – it may be not so difficult as it looks but the long-term benefits for your health as increased energy and losing weight is worth trying. The main slogan of this nutritional regime is positive – to eat more green vegetables, to drink more water and to consume the least fast food. Primarily it is good to consult a nutritional specialist and together with him to consider what is the appropriate diet for you in regard to your health and aim.