It’s not easy being green. Or is it? Maybe Kermit just hadn’t discovered the benefits of an alkaline diet... Nutritionist Melanie Passman reports.
If there’s one diet that has generated some controversy over the years, it’s Dr Robert Young’s alkaline diet – based on the premise that over-acidification of the body is the single underlying cause of all disease. Yet for every skeptic there is a believer who will attest that alkalising their diet has completely reinvigorated their health, boosted their energy and vitality, and even helped them recover from illness.
Proponents of the alkaline diet believe our Western diet has become overloaded with too many acid-forming foods, such as meat, dairy, white flour, sugar, coffee and alcohol, which can lead to lethargy and fatigue, excessive mucous production, weight gain, frequent colds and flu, anxiety, depression, allergies and headaches.
A high acidic diet is also thought to deplete the body of essential nutrients, overwork the adrenal glands and cause inflammation resulting in bloating, nausea and general malaise.
On the other hand, adopting a more alkaline diet is said to restore a state of homeostasis (balance), nourishing cells, restoring energy and vitality, and reducing the occurrence of disease. Such claims are backed by a number of recent studies, including a 2011 Canadian review of published scientific literature, itself published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, which found an alkaline diet could improve bone health and reduce muscle wasting, mitigate chronic diseases such as hypertension and strokes, and improve many outcomes from cardiovascular health to memory and cognition.
How does it work?
The balance of acidity to alkaline is usually referred to within a pH scale, from 0 being completely alkaline, to 7 being neutral and 14 being acidic. Normal blood pH levels stay within the narrow range of 7.35 to 7.45, making it slightly alkaline.
If your body is too acidic (this can be monitored with simple testing strips bought from your local health store or pharmacy), the idea is to aim for a nutritional intake of 80 per cent alkaline and 20 per cent acid foods to bring it back into balance. Check out the chart on the opposite page to learn more about which foods are acid-forming and which are alkalising.
Top tips for alkalising your body
1. Go green
Eat 5-6 cups of vegetables, especially green vegies, per day.
2. Drink up
Take frequent sips of filtered water throughout the day, ideally with lemon juice to increase the alkalinity.
3. Chill out
Stress can affect your acid-alkaline balance and be damaging to your health. Practise positive mantras daily; exercise will also help.
Examples of foods that are considered to have an alkalising effect on the body...
Vegetables - Pretty much all vegies (except mushrooms), seaweeds and fresh herbs
Low-sugar fruit - Avocado, fresh coconut, grapefruit, lemon, lime, tomato
Grains - Most grains, although amaranth, millet, oats and spelt are considered neutral or mildly acidic
Beans & tofu - Most legumes and beans, although black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans and soybeans are considered neutral or mildly acidic
Grasses & sprouts - All grasses and sprouts are considered alkalising – think wheatgrass, barley grass, alfalfa sprouts, mung bean sprouts…
Nuts & seeds - Almonds, coconut, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
Cold-pressed oils - Avocado oil, coconut oil, flax oil, olive oil, Udo’s oil
Breads - Sprouted breads and wraps, gluten/yeast free breads and wraps
Drinks - Alkaline water, almond milk, goat milk, herbal tea.
Examples of foods that are considered to be acid-forming…
Meat & eggs - Meat, poultry, seafood (with the exception of wild freshwater or ocean fish) and eggs are considered highly acidic
Drinks - Alcohol, cocoa, coffee, black tea and packaged fruit juice are rated highly acidic – fresh, natural juice is on the moderately acidic list
Spreads & condiments - Mayonnaise and tomato sauce are on the moderately acidic list, while jam, honey, mustard, soy sauce, sugar, syrups and vinegar are highly acidic
Dairy - Milk, cheese and other dairy products
Breads & grains - Most breads, pasta, rice and noodles
High-sugar fruit - Most fresh fruits, including apples, berries, melons and tropical fruits, are moderately acidic, while dried fruit is highly acidic
Nuts & Seeds - While some nuts and seeds are on the alkaline list, others such as brazil nuts, pecans and hazelnuts are neutral or mildly acidic
Other - Processed foods, artificial sweeteners, yeast