There is a plethora of plant-based lifestyles to choose from these days. From traditional vegetarianism to veganism and the ketosis diet to the pegan diet, you’ve got your work cut out to deduce which is the right one for you.
Well, I’m here to add one more plant-based diet to your list for consideration!
The alkaline diet gained attention over the course of 2018 and looks to continue to grow in popularity. So, what is an alkaline plant-based diet? What are its health benefits? How can you start practicing?
Let’s take a deep dive into the alkaline diet to answer these questions!
What is an Alkaline Plant-Based Diet?
In order to understand the alkaline diet, it’s important to understand your metabolic system and the effects of acidity within your body. The interconnectedness of these elements all play a vital role in the efficiency of the alkaline diet, as well as reasons to choose this as a way of life.
What is Metabolic Waste?
Your body converts the food you eat into energy — referred to as the metabolic process — through “chemical reactions that breaks down a solid mass.” As a fire leaves behind ash, so do the chemical reactions that take place during metabolizing, yet instead of “ash” what’s leftover is called metabolic waste. The alkaline diet focuses on the acidity levels of this metabolic waste, which has been shown to be either “alkaline — also called neutral — or acidic.” Depending on the types of foods consumed, the acidity levels of your blood may be adversely or positively affected.
The pH Connection
Those that follow the alkaline diet tend to test the pH levels of their urine. Let’s take a step back. What is pH? pH is simply “a measurement of how acidic or alkaline something is.” Those that are highly acidic will be between 0.0 and 6.9, while those that are neutral or alkaline fall between 7.0 and 14.0. If you’re looking to alkalize your body, your urine should indicate the neutral or alkaline range.
With that said, keep in mind that the human body has various levels of acidity depending on the task at hand. For example, your “stomach is loaded with hydrochloric acid, giving it a pH of 2 to 3.5,” which necessary for the digestive process, while blood is naturally “slightly alkaline, with a pH of 7.36.”
Alkaline Plant-Based Diet
So, how do you avoid acidic ash? This is what the alkaline diet is all about!
In order to reduce the levels of acidic metabolic waste and increase alkaline metabolic waste, look to your diet.
Integrate foods with alkaline-rich components — calcium, magnesium, and potassium — such as natural fats, starches, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and legumes. These foods help “alkalize” your body and boost the favorable alkaline or neutral metabolic waste. Avoid “food components that leave an acidic ash” — including sulfur, protein, and phosphate — such as meat, poultry, fish, grains, alcohol, dairy, and eggs.
Preliminary research surmises that “acidic ash is thought to make you vulnerable to illness and disease” and may be a contributing factor to osteoporosis. Since alkaline metabolic waste has a neutral makeup, it’s believed that this may protect you from the potentially harmful effects of acidic metabolic waste.
Health Benefits of an Alkaline Plant-Based Diet
Even though research on the alkaline plant-based diet is still in its infancy, the preliminary health benefits are encouraging. From helping to maintain a healthy weight to improving muscle mass and the immune system and even protecting the body from cancers, this diet shows great promise!
Better Bone Density
As mentioned above, one of the purported negative effects of acidic metabolic waste is a possible higher risk of osteoporosis. It all comes down to your intake of minerals. Studies have shown that “the more alkalizing fruits and vegetables someone eats, the better protection that person might have from experiencing decreased bone strength and muscle wasting as they age.” This is known as sarcopenia. An alkaline diet has been shown to counter decreased bone density and muscle mass by balancing the “ratios of minerals” such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphate, while promoting the “production of growth hormones and vitamin D absorption.”
Almost every diet I’ve written about has highlighted reducing inflammation as a great health benefit and for good reason. Bodily inflammation has been linked to increased risk of various diseases and conditions.
The alkaline diet has been linked to a reduction in inflammation through treatment of chronic acidosis, a condition caused by three factors: acidosis, a buildup of overproduced acid in the blood, metabolic acidosis, “excessive loss of bicarbonate from the blood,” or respiratory acidosis, poor lung function that causes buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood.
Due to this inflammation reduction, the alkaline diet has also been linked to a reduced risk of hypertension — high blood pressure — which conversely reduces the risk of serious conditions such as stroke, heart disease, and, ultimately, death.
Improved Vitamin Absorption
As mentioned previously, the alkaline diet is said to increase the body’s ability to absorb vitamins. It is purported that as the body deals with high acidity, it isn’t able to absorb nutrients appropriately. One such vitamin that is plentiful on the alkaline diet is magnesium. Magnesium, one of the only vitamins to activate vitamin D, “is required for the function of hundreds of enzyme systems and bodily processes,” and a deficiency can result in “heart complications, muscle pains, headaches, sleep troubles and anxiety.”
Vegetable Rose Tart With Cheesy Sun-Dried Tomato Filling/One Green Planet
Looking to integrate alkaline plant-based foods into your diet? First, make sure to consult a medical profession before making any drastic changes to your diet! Once you’ve got your doc’s sign off, head to the grocery store and fill your basket with some of these alkaline-friendly foods. Try to pick out organic products as often as possible, as soil quality is a large factor in determining the acidity or alkaline levels of your food.
Breakfast Mini Muffins with Kale and Sundried Tomatoes/One Green Planet
Lucky for us, fresh fruit is one of the top items on the alkaline-friendly list! Yet, on the other hand, it’s recommended to steer clear of oats, whole wheat, and caffeine. With this in mind, you’ll want to start your morning off with fruit and healthy veggies, such as this Grapefruit and Greens Smoothie, this avocado-rich Wellness Nourish Bowl, or these Breakfast Mini Muffins with Kale and Sundried Tomatoes. For your morning lift, try a low-caffeine Café Style Matcha Tea Latte, which is a powerful source of green tea-based antioxidants, or this inflammation-fighting Energizing Turmeric Tea.
Green Fruit Smoothie with Wheatgrass Juice/One Green Planet
For lunch, let’s look to the raw and fermented foods. These are easy to transport to work, generally stay good outside of the fridge for periods of time, and get your full while also pumping vital nutrients into your system. Wheatgrass is a great alkaline-friendly addition, such as this Green Fruit Smoothie with Wheatgrass Juice or this simple Creamy Chilled Avocado Soup with Wheatgrass. Tempeh is tasty and happens to be an alkaline-friendly fermented food. Try out this Tempeh Cubano Sandwich (substitute lettuce for the bun!) or this Smoky Tempeh Jerky for lunch!
Ginger-Citrus Tofu Powerbowl with Bok Choy and Cashews/One Green Planet
The final meal of the day needs to be nutritious, filling, and yet alkaline-friendly. Use filling foods such as barley grass, kale, red beet, cabbage, and green beans. One of the easiest dinners to make are bowls. Take all the alkaline-friendly foods you want and toss them together in your favorite large bowl. Try out a few of these alkaline-friendly dinner bowl recipes: Chili-Lime Cauliflower Bowl, Ginger-Citrus Tofu Powerbowl with Bok Choy and Cashews, or this Sriracha Tofu Bowl.
Don’t stop there! These are just a few highlighted recipes that can kick you off onto your new alkaline plant-based diet. For more recipes, we highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!