Knowing Your Diet’s pH Level Isn’t Just Chemistry 101

You might not realize it, but everything you ingest falls somewhere on the ph spectrum—and whether it is alkaline (good for you) or acidic (not so good for you) can make a big difference nutritionally. But why?

Let’s start with the chemical breakdown of what’s going on inside your body when you eat. When your body converts food into energy, this natural process of burning calories leaves a metabolic waste residue which can be alkaline, neutral, or acidic. Proponents of consuming a more alkaline diet believe this residue affects your body’s pH levels, and that acidity increases your vulnerability to illness and disease and alkalinity makes you healthier.

How To Determine Your pH Level

If you are a pool owner, you’ve probably heard that the pH scale goes from 0 (totally acidic) to 14 (totally alkaline), with a pH level of 7 being neutral. The truth is, your stomach operates at more acidic levels (around 3.5 or lower) in order to break down food. Your blood runs just a tad alkaline (just over 7) and your urine varies because your kidneys have the job of keeping your blood pH steady.

For that reason, be wary of lone pH readings. If you want to know your own pH levels, try consistently timed early-morning urine tests on pH paper over a period of time to indicate trends rather than a single result.

Benefits Of An Alkaline Diet

So what are the benefits of an alkaline diet? While some may point to weight loss, arthritis relief and cancer prevention (for which the science is more speculative), there are more concrete benefits; the primary reason being that a more alkaline diet means a more plant-based diet, and a vegetarian-leaning diet has a multitude of benefits including high fiber content and less fat, calories, and cholesterol. In addition, there are specific benefits for those with chronic kidney disease.

Drawbacks Of An Alkaline Diet

Keep in mind that there are downsides to maintaining an alkaline diet. Many acidic foods are essential to good health (when consumed in moderation, as with most nutrition sources). What’s more, as previously mentioned, your kidneys regulate your pH levels, and most mainstream scientists doubt diet plays a role.

pH Extremes

High alkaline foods include berries and citrus, and vegetables from asparagus to zucchini, as well as oatmeal, quinoa, and wild rice. At the other end of the pH spectrum are high acid foods such as sugar, soda and other sweetened beverages, processed foods, fish, and meats (processed or fresh) including chicken, turkey and beef.

Examine the pros and cons for yourself. Some say the science isn’t solid, but there are still health benefits to the eating style. The bottom line is that an alkaline diet, whether directly or indirectly, can be an important contributor to healthy weight loss, heart health, lower cholesterol and blood-sugar levels, and more. That passes my litmus test.

Looking for a good high-alkaline recipe? Try our Thai Basil Tofu and Vegetables.