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Acid alkaline diet

Acid Alkaline Diet

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We’re all familiar with the many benefits of a largely plant based diet. But in addition to the antioxidants, fibre and other phytochemicals provided by fruits and vegetables, the alkalising affect they bestow on the body may also be of benefit. Danielle Steedman takes a closer look.

A typical western diet has been observed to increase the acid load on the modern body, when compared to a diet consumed by people in a pre-agricultural era. It appears that such a high acid intake over a long period of time may be adversely affecting our health. Chronic, meaning over years to decades, low grade acidosis can have a negative impact on bone, muscle, and kidney health.

Our body maintains a tight control of pH levels by excretion of acids through the lungs and the kidneys. While the  actual decrease in blood pH and plasma bicarbonate, as a result of dietary intake is very small and often  falls within the ‘normal’ range,  it appears that  the length of time the body is in this state of acidosis  is what is significant for health. 

It has been proposed that metabolic acidosis may affect the ability of the immune system to provide adequate defence. Particularly in combination with oxidative stress and a deficiency of essential nutrients, acidosis affects the rate of cellular repair, reduces cellular energy production, reduces detoxification and is associated with inflammation.  The immune system itself produces acidic products through normal metabolic processes, so it is important to help balance this production as much as possible.

A metabolically alkaline diet means that food has a buffering effect on cellular chemistry. This may be surprising sometimes, given a particular food’s taste. For instance, citrus fruits are alkalising because the citrate, malate, succinate and fumarate they contain generate more than twice as much bicarbonate buffer as there is acid itself in the fruit. This makes citrus alkaline-forming in the body.

Alkalising foods include -

Most alkaline:
Umeboshi plum, pumpkin seed, lentil, onion, miso, sea weed (nori, kombu, wakame), taro root, sweet potato, lime, nectarine, persimmon, raspberry, watermelon, tangerine, pineapple.

Kombucha, molasses, soy sauce, cashew, parsnip, garlic, asparagus, parsley, endive, ginger root, broccoli, grapefruit, rockmelon, honeydew, citrus, mango.

Low alkaline:
Green tea, apple cider vinegar, sesame seed, almond, potato, mushroom, cauliflower, cabbage, eggplant, pumpkin, lemon, pear, avocado, apple, cherry, peach, papaya

Lowest alkaline:
Oats, quinoa, wild rice, amaranth, most seeds, olive oil, brussel sprout, beet, celery, cucumber, squash, artichoke, lettuce, orange, apricot, banana, blueberry, raisins, strawberry, grape

Lowest acid:
Honey, butter, yoghurt, goat and sheep cheese, chicken eggs, fish, millet, brown rice, pine nut, spinach, kidney bean,

More acid:
Cottage cheese, skim milk, soy milk, pork/veal, mussel, squid, chicken, maize, barley, corn, rye, oat bran, pistachio seed, pecan, peanut, snow pea, legumes (other), carrot, chick pea, cranberry, pomegranate, mung bean, plum, tomato.

Table salt, jelly, jam, soda, beer, yeast, hops, malt, sugar, cocoa, white vinegar, processed cheese, ice cream, beef, shellfish, pheasant, processed flour, fried food.

Consuming a diet that supplies a range of acid and alkaline foods, with the emphasis on the alkalising group is recommended. This will help to ensure that the intracellular environment remains in an alkaline state supporting healthy cellular activity, including healthy immune function.

Hi Heather,
Thanks for your post.
Keep in mind that some acid foods are balanced out by alkaline foods when combined in a meal. For example if you choose a low acid or acid bread then combine it with an alkaline filling such as cashew nut butter, endive, beet, cucumber etc. this will make for a more alkaline than acid meal. Most grains are in the acid group, however the lower acid breads would be the flat breads made with brown rice, quinoa, buck wheat etc.You will find that a lot of these are sold in the bread aisle at your local supermarket.
In regards to advising on a cook book that may suit you, this is of course a personal choice. In my opinion the book Healing With Whole Foods is a comprehensive book with recipes on a rather large topic that is done well. I would advise you search at your local outlets or online to see which most suit your needs.
Kind regards, Emma (Blackmores naturopath)
Anonymous 04 Oct 2013
I see that most of the ingredients used to make bread are in the acid category e.g. maise, barley, corn, rye, oat bran, yeast, processed flour. What do you suggest that i consume instead of bread? I have tried most gluten free breads (rice based) but the supermarket gluten free breads are horrible, and it is rare that i find time to get to a health food shop to buy gluten fee bread.
Also, is there a book of anti inflammatory recipes that you recommend?
I do not cook asian style foods.
Anonymous 02 Oct 2013