The alkaline diet is a much-studied and on-going subject matter, due to its claims of improving well-being and overall health. More and more studies are proving the benefits of eating alkaline foods to maintain a healthy pH level in the blood and urine. Doing this, enables the person to treat and combat various chronic diseases that plague people worldwide. For the last few decades, healthcare professionals have turned to medication to change the status of the pH levels in the body’s systems. However, it is being realized that diet modification to include more alkaline foods to change an acidic environment, is safer, provides natural healthy benefits, and eliminates the need to be on medication at all.
The Acid-Base Balance Basics
An ideal pH level for blood is anywhere between 7.35 to 7.45. Although, the blood runs slightly alkaline, the stomach needs a pH level of 1.35 to 3.5 in order to be able to properly breakdown and digest food, and to prevent the growth of microbial organisms that could cause serious infections and hormone and chemical imbalances in the body. More acidic environments in the body act as a barrier to outside microbial organisms to limit the growth of microbial organisms. These include the skin, which has an acidic pH level of 4 to 6.5, the vagina has a pH level of 4.7, and the urine with a level of 4.6 to 8. Alkaline environments are needed to protect organs and tissues from acids.
The alkaline diet is promoted by healthcare professionals to treat weight-related conditions, cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, improve brain function, increase energy levels, digestive problems, metabolic diseases, kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and even cancer. The kidneys play a primary role in maintaining a healthy acid-base balance in the blood, and even the slightest change in that balance can result in several health issues, that may reveal an underlying disease or condition that could wreak havoc on vital organs and systems in the body.
Acid Reflux and the Alkaline Diet
An alkaline diet can help treat a common problem that millions of people suffer with. People with acid reflux can benefit from incorporating an alkaline diet in their lifestyle to treat the symptoms. People suffering with this disease have different degrees of symptoms, and sometimes it can be difficult to diagnose. If left untreated, it can cause esophageal cancer or can cause Barrett’s esophagus, which is a forerunner for cancer, and cancer proliferates in an acidic environment. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) opens and closes after consuming foods and liquids when functioning properly. Acid reflux occurs when the sphincter opens and doesn’t close entirely, or opens too often, and acids produced in the stomach to breakdown proteins move upwards into the esophagus. When this happens twice or more in a seven day period, this indicates a very acidic environment that can cause heartburn, chest pains, ulcers, regurgitation, bloating, dysphagia, and many more symptoms. Studies are confirming that a diet high in acidic foods may be the primary culprit responsible for acid reflux disease. In order to maintain the right balance of acid and alkaline compounds, depends on the simple act of eating – what we consume.
We Are What We Eat
Because the human body is a comprehensive mass of complex systems that need to function at optimum performance in order for you to survive, it has always been important to consume a diet rich in alkaline foods to balance out the acidic foods that we tend to eat in excess in this modern day. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate a diet rich in potassium (K) and low in sodium (Na). That K/Na ratio was 10 to 1, and today it’s 3 to 1. In this age, a typical diet lacks in vital minerals, enzymes, and vitamins such as magnesium, potassium, and fiber, and is instead high in processed foods, sugars, chloride, sodium, and saturated fats that are devoid of the necessary nutritional requirements we need to remain healthy and – alive. Basically, we eat too much meat, sugar, and processed foods, and not near enough fruits and vegetables.
Because of the highly acidic foods we eat, and as we age, we provide an ideal environment to become susceptible to metabolic acidosis, while the body produces too much acid, or the kidneys no longer remove acid efficiently. At this point in time, acid reflux disease is likely already in the throes of wreaking havoc in the esophagus. Looking to improve the diet by incorporating more alkaline foods will help to reduce the risks of acid reflux disease and metabolic acidosis.
Acidic foods include meats, grains, poultry, and cheese. When eating acidic foods in excess, the natural acids produced can have severe consequences on cells, muscle, and tissue. Alkaline minerals are also stored in the bones, and when you don’t supplement your diet with alkaline rich foods, the body will deplete its sources of stored alkaline minerals without being able to replace it. This can cause poor bone health and increase the risks for osteoporosis. We are what we eat, and the way our body’s react to the foods we eat prove this common saying true.
11 Different Alkalizing Foods
Knowing what alkaline foods to eat to improve overall health, and especially to eliminate symptoms related to acid reflux disease can be the difference between poor quality of life and saving your life. Since your digestive system is run by a “second brain” called the Enteric Nervous System, if the stomach is in poor health, it will report this to the brain, and the body will reflect and react to the environment inside, with sickness. The alkaline diet will help to neutralize stomach acids that cause acid reflux, and will help aid in the digestion process, while protecting vital organs and tissues. Here are some super alkalizing foods that have other numerous amazing benefits to contribute to their abilities to positively affect the acid-base balance:
*Please note that the acidic foods listed here are more based on anecdotal evidence rather than hard scientific fact (the theory being that the acidity somehow ‘buffers’ the natural production of stomach acid by replacing it with acid that has a lower ph value). Either way, we’ve tried to list a varying set of potential foods, so that you can try each one and see what works.
1) Broccoli – This nutritional powerhouse should be incorporated into everyone’s diet. It is best when steamed lightly or turned into soup, (which makes it far easier to consume large amounts).
2) Lemons – Although a citric fruit, it has a pH level of 9.0, and has powerful electrolyte properties that make it a super-duper alkalizing food. Not only does it do wonders on neutralizing and balancing out acid production, it’s a natural antiseptic that’s been used since the age of time for disinfecting, consumed for its healing properties, and is a natural tonic, detoxifier, and energizer for the kidneys and liver.
3) Watermelon – This sweet and thirst-quenching fruit is abundant in vitamins A, B, and C. This unsuspecting melon aids in reducing joint inflammation, and helps to prevent the formation of kidney stones, and can lower blood pressure.
4) Spinach – This popular leafy green is a great source of nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals that provide a great dose of alkalizing medicine. Although it’s tasty and good for you when eaten raw, steaming your spinach may help in reducing the oxalic acid which can cause kidney stones.
5) Kale – Another leafy green, that’s apart of the cruciferous vegetable family, is a great alkalizing food, since it can aid in digestion, and encourage the proliferation of gut-friendly bacteria. Like spinach, it has many benefits when eaten cooked, such as avoiding the inhibition of hormones that the thyroid produces.
6) Cucumber – This vegetable is rich in vitamins A, B, and C, and is a great summer cooler, that also prevents water retention. Stomach problems are reduced because this alkaline vegetable helps to neutralize excess acid.
7) Grapefruit – Another acidic fruit, but actually alkaline forming once consumed. Grapefruits have many health benefits that can prevent the risks of heart disease, cancer, and strokes, while also being a fat-burner friend.
8) Pumpkin Seeds – The only alkaline forming seed is high in necessary minerals that we need to promote good health. These seeds have high levels of zinc, and when there is a lack of sufficient amounts of zinc, there is an increased risk of osteoporosis at the spine and hip.
9) Apple Cider Vinegar – Known for its healing properties and used as a natural remedy for several health problems, it’s alkaline effects could be the do-gooder to thank. It has the ability to neutralize toxic compounds, by making them less toxic.
10) Sea Salt – This type of salt is not the same species as table salt. It still has its nutritional value intact, and is vital to keep an internal balance. The benefits of sea salt are endless, and it has significant neutralizing effects on acid.
11) Baking Soda – This has been used to reduce and balance acid in the body for centuries. Extremely safe and beneficial to use for temporary relief from acid reflux disease symptoms.
Foods to be minimised are anything that contains excessive:
Benefits of the Alkaline Diet for Acid Reflux
Because the stomach requires a pH level of anywhere between 1.35 to 3.5 to efficiently breakdown the foods that we consume, it will be a melting pot of natural acidic enzymes and good bacteria that enable the nutrients to be disbursed throughout the blood system to be carried to cells, tissues, organs, and muscles. When we eat too many acidic foods and acidic forming foods, it continues to lower the stomach pH level which can weaken the LES, the muscle valve which separates the stomach and the esophagus. The LES is affected by the acidic contents in the stomach, causing it to malfunction. It may not close properly after eating or drinking, it may open more often than it should, or it becomes weak and relaxed, all of which allow stomach contents to rise into the esophagus. When the acidic refluxed contents touch the esophagus walls, this creates heartburn. When this happens often, this can lead to a more chronic stage of acid reflux called, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease that can cause esophagus cancer or Barrett’s Esophagus, if it’s not treated.
The alkaline diet can help treat acid reflux disease, by incorporating more alkaline foods into your regime to balance out acidic levels. People with acid reflux are highly recommended to avoid eating foods that irritate the problem further. With a modern diet, this can be extremely difficult to do. A helpful example would be to incorporate some cooked green vegetables when eating meat, to help balance out the acidic effects the meat will cause. Because a modern diet is high in acidic foods and low in alkaline foods (high in meat, sugar, processed foods, and cheese, and low in fruits and vegetables), the typical diet will encourage a thrown-off acid-base balance, in favor of acid. Symptoms of acid reflux arise, and then a flurry of antacid medication is used, which ultimately neutralizes all stomach acids (including the good ones), which ends up forcing the body to produce more and more acids that will continue to harm other living organisms in the body. Although alkaline foods neutralize stomach acids too, the healthy alkaline foods encourage a balance of acid and alkaline, whereas medication doesn’t cater for a balance, it just destroys all in its path. The alkaline foods restore the balance, which aids in the digestion process, the LES muscle is left alone to do its job, and rising of acidic stomach contents no longer happens.
Other Benefits of an Alkaline Diet
Good Nutrition and Weight-Loss
The alkaline diet encourages a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables, and cooked whole grains with acidic foods that are good for us, but need to be balanced out, such as meat and dairy. A welcoming side-effect for most people, is the weight-loss that occurs when on an alkaline diet. Because the diet encourages more fruits and vegetables, and less processed foods, sugar, and cheese, the body will take in less empty calories, and more wholesome foods that body can properly digest. Most green leafy vegetables are naturally alkaline foods, which are high in nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants and practically void of sugar. When consuming more leafy greens, and less bad-for-you foods, you’ll shed the pounds and burn the fat.
Reduces Risks of Osteoporosis
More studies are showing the positive effects that the alkaline diet is having on various dysfunctions, other than just acid reflux. It’s an on-going study of how the diet can benefit those at risk of osteoporosis. Since acidic foods leave behind residue that cause acid loads that eat away at bones, cells, and tissues, the kidneys cannot function properly, causing nutrients needed for optimum bone health to be lost in the urine. This results in an increased risk for osteoporosis. A diet rich in alkaline foods, combined with an appropriate amount of protein (meat/fish which are acidic foods), will prevent a decrease in bone density.
Slows Down Muscle Wasting
As people age, muscle loss occurs naturally, but is accelerated in those that suffer with diseases such as renal failure, diabetic ketosis, and sepsis. The speed of the muscle loss can be slowed down with an alkaline diet. Studies show that a diet rich in potassium, like that found in fruits and vegetables (alkaline foods), reduces the risks of acid loads, which in turn, helps to preserve muscle, and slows down the process of muscle wasting.
Increases Growth Hormone
Several studies have shown the alkaline diet encourages high levels of potassium and bicarbonate, which can help increase growth hormones that can help reverse metabolic acidosis in children, and can neutralize the daily net acid load in postmenopausal women. Improving and increasing the growth hormone has significant effects that improve quality of life, brain/cognition health, reduce urinary calcium loss, and reduce the risks for cardiovascular disease.
Improves Back Pain
Alkaline foods have high levels of the vitamins and alkaline minerals needed to encourage enzyme systems to function optimally, which can help improve chronic back pain.
Makes Chemotherapy More Effective?
Some studies are reflecting that those with high alkalinity levels may show more response to chemotherapy. It’s an on-going investigation as to whether or not inducing metabolic alkalosis will aid in making the chemotherapy more effective. This process uses the same alkaline minerals that are consumed on the alkaline diet.
The Bottom Line
The human body has several various systems that can’t function correctly if the acid-base balance is off. This is made obvious by the sicknesses and diseases that ravage people all over the world, likely due to the modern day diet. Acid reflux is affecting more and more people every year, which is a precursor for esophagus cancer or cancerous Barrett’s esophagus. Since 1975, esophagus cancer prevalence has increased 850 percent in the United States. It’s no debate that the modern diet is an extremely unhealthy diet, that’s practically void of the nutrition our bodies need to survive and function at optimum performance. To prevent and combat many diseases and illnesses, comes down to a good, nutritious, alkaline-rich diet. It contains the nutrients, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and all the good stuff we need to reduce excess acid loads in our bodies that contribute to serious medical conditions.
Acid reflux can be a disease of the past, if you incorporate a more healthy, alkaline diet into your life. There is no downside. In fact, there’s more to gain and benefit from, when eating more fruits and vegetables.