If you follow Jennifer Aniston or Victoria Beckham, you would know that they all tout the alkaline diet and its benefits. But before you jump on to the bandwagon, it is important to understand and evaluate the acidity level of what one eats for optimum health benefits. The food we eat ranges from highly acidic to alkaline as the ph level of each food is different. Many proponents of this diet agree that the more alkaline your diet is, the better it is if you suffer from heartburns, acidity etc. This diet is based on the claim that eating foods that are higher in ph will help one reduce the risk of chronic diseases like cancer: although there is a lack of research on this diet and it may come with its health risks yet its philosophy somewhere resonates with that of Ayurvedic diets that go with the “three doshas — vata, pitta, kapha” as the deciding factor for suitability of certain food types for each individual.
What is an alkaline diet?
An alkaline diet is not an acid-reducing diet rather, it is a high alkaline food regimen instead of a low alkaline food regimen. The promoters of this diet say that it reduces heartburn and is opposed to the drinks and diet that are decadent and indulgent. The food we eat leaves a metabolic waste or ash that affects the alkalinity or acidity of the body. It’s anyways a good idea to shift from alcohol and meat-based diets to a plant-rich diet, that includes fruits and vegetables. The vitamins, nutrient-rich veggies do offer a myriad of health advantages.
Alkalising foods vs acidic foods
A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, seeds and seed oils (like flaxseeds), grains and whole foods that are naturally helpful in digestion comprises an alkaline diet. It is more of a plant-based diet. Few examples of alkaline foods are broccoli, cucumber, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, almonds, green tea etc. This is in contrast to a diet of meat, poultry, milk, cheese, sugar, alcohol, salt that are acidic in nature.
Maintain the levels
It’s important to understand that the ph level of the blood remains constant. It is the ph level of your urine that is affected by the food you eat. Excreting the acids in urine is the way our body maintains the normal ph level of blood to stay healthy.
Include these alkaline foods
Green leafy vegetables: Toss them into a salad or eat as cooked sabzi.
Root vegetables: Beets, carrots, potatoes are great sources of alkali.
Citrus fruits: Contrary to the belief that citrus fruits are acidic in nature, they are loaded with vitamin C and provide relief from acidity. All seasonal fresh fruits like kiwi, pineapple, watermelons are a great source of vitamins and minerals and also have alkalising effects on the body.
Ginger, garlic, onions: Not only does ginger flavour your tea but these ingredients also balance the ph levels of your body. These flavour-enhancing ingredients have been a part of the Indian diet and are great when used in moderation.
Advantages of alkaline food
A diet in alkaline food helps in balancing the sleep pattern, reducing stress levels, reduces inflammation from food products thus taking care of food allergies and sensitivities etc. It strengthens the defence system of the body against illness and disease, improves mental clarity and overall balance of the body. It doesn’t aim to make one lose weight but nevertheless helps in maintaining it in the long run. Since it is naturally rich in flavonoids, it prevents cognitive diseases. The kidneys are taken care of as the plant protein is not excessive and it gets processed easily. An alkaline diet also prevents osteoporosis, unlike the acidic food that is believed to strip off the calcium from our body.
Nidhi Nahata, a nutritionist, health coach and food therapist adds that: “Our body is naturally alkaline. Acidic food leaches calcium and magnesium from our bones and breaks down muscles. All animal products are highly acidic, while only high-protein types of plant-based food like beans and legumes are acidic. All fruits and vegetables are more alkaline. Nature has a way to tell us what’s acidic and what’s not.”
If one believes in natural healing rather than running for over the counter medications for acidity and also believes in holistic wellness then an alkaline diet would surely set the pathway towards detoxification while also setting the health meter of the body.
(The author is a lifestyle coach & social media influencer.)