Acid Alkaline Diet Overview

Scorecard

Overall
Weight Loss Short-term
Weight Loss Long-term
Easy to Follow
Nutrition
Safety
For Diabetes
For Heart Health

Scores are based on experts' reviews

Pros & Cons

  • Heavy on fresh produce
  • Filling
  • Lots of rules to remember
  • Little research to back it up

Do's & Don'ts

Don’t: Drink alcohol. See more Do's & Don'ts

Overview

Type:

Balanced.

Resembles these U.S. News-rated diets:

Vegetarian Diet, Macrobiotic Diet, Flexitarian Diet

The aim:

May include weight loss, disease prevention, slowing down aging and promoting optimal health.

The claim:

By helping your body control your pH through diet, you’ll gain health and longevity.

The theory:

pH is a measure of acids and alkalines throughout the body on a 0 to 14 scale. Acidic substances range from 0 to 7; vinegar, for example, has a pH of about 2.0, which means it’s acidic. Alkaline substances, meanwhile, fall between 7 and 14 on the scale. Calcium, which is highly alkaline, has a pH of about 10. In its natural state, our body is slightly alkaline – hovering between 7.35 and 7.45. Supporters of the Acid Alkaline Diet argue that eating acid-forming foods – like red meat – tips your pH balance out of whack and sets the stage for poor health. Balancing your pH through diet, they say, leads to numerous health benefits. The thinking goes: If we’re constantly putting acidic foods into our body, how does our system have time to do anything other than work to remove them?

How does the Acid Alkaline Diet work?

Working toward a healthy, balanced pH revolves around making smarter eating choices so that alkaline-forming choices are front and center on your plate. These include vegetables, fruits (as long as they’re natural, not sweetened or dried), sprouted grains, almonds and lentils, and tofu and soy products. As a general rule of thumb, if you want to stick to a strict Acid Alkaline Diet, 80 percent of what you eat should be alkalizing foods, with 20 percent acid-forming. You should apply this rule to every meal, beverage and snack. Some people, however, follow a 60/40 alkaline diet – which “won’t correct years of acidity, but helps you maintain a healthy balance moving forward,” according to “Acid Alkaline Diet for Dummies.” There’s no calorie cap on this plan.

Guidebooks like “Acid Alkaline Diet for Dummies” include extensive lists of alkaline and acid-forming foods. Some fruits are good for your pH, for example, apples and bananas, and others are really good, such as avocados and pineapples. Bananas have a pH of about 5; avocados are closer to 7. Other recommended choices include bell peppers, seaweed, sweet potatoes, almonds and chestnuts, tofu, tempeh and miso, sprouts and lentils. It helps to build snacks and meals around fruits and veggies rather than meats or starches, according to “Acid Alkaline Diet for Dummies.” If you fill your plate with plant foods first, there won’t be as much room for acid-forming meats and breads.

Acid-forming foods include: red and processed meats; fried and fatty foods; whole dairy products; breads high in yeast and wheat products; and sugary snacks and drinks. Ketchup, mayonnaise, salad dressings, croutons and coffee are often “hidden acids,” according to “Acid Alkaline Diet for Dummies,” since they’re often overlooked. If you dip a piece of broccoli in cheese sauce, for example, you’re nixing the alkaline-forming potential of the vegetable. It’s best to ditch sauces, gravies and condiments, and stick with natural flavors.

There’s no need to use a calculator or scale as you embark on an Acid Alkaline Diet. Simply eyeball your food and make necessary swaps. Rather than buns and fries, for example, choose yeast-free breads or wild rice. Instead of red meat, opt for white meat, seafood and meat substitutes. And rather than milk or alcohol, choose water or sugar-free juice.

In addition to tweaking your diet, you may have to alter your behavior, too. Acid consumption that can negatively affect pH includes smoking and tobacco use; drinking alcohol; ingesting coffee, soda and other stimulants; and drug abuse. Being consistently dehydrated, overdoing workouts and having a sedentary lifestyle can impact your pH too.

Will you lose weight?

Probably. While the Acid Alkaline Diet lacks robust clinical studies examining its weight-loss potential, its ban on processed food and emphasis on eating whole grains, vegetables and soy products will likely yield weight loss. Just build in a “calorie deficit” – eat fewer calories than your daily recommended max, or burn off extra by exercising – and you should see the numbers on the scale budge. How quickly and whether you keep the weight off, however, is up to you.

The approach also shares tenets with vegetarianism, and vegetarians tend to eat fewer calories and weigh less than their meat-eating counterparts.

Does it have cardiovascular benefits?

It’s unclear because limited research exists. However, the Acid Alkaline Diet encourages plant-based meals that emphasize fruits, veggies and whole grains. Since you’ll eliminate – or at least cut back on – processed foods and red meat, you may reap heart benefits.Research suggests plant-based diets help keep cholesterol and blood pressure in check and heart disease at bay. That’s in large part because plant protein is higher in fiber than animal protein, with less fat and no cholesterol.

Can it prevent or control diabetes?

Possibly.

Prevention: Being overweight is one of the biggest risk factors for Type 2 diabetes. If the Acid Alkaline Diet helps you lose weight and keep it off, you’ll almost certainly tilt the odds in your favor.

Control: Because there are no rigid meal plans or prepackaged meals, you can ensure that what you’re eating doesn’t go against your doctor’s advice.

Are there health risks?

People with acute or chronic kidney failure should not adopt the Acid Alkaline Diet unless they’re under a doctor’s supervision. The same goes for those with heart conditions or who are on medications that affect potassium levels. If you have a health condition, always talk with your doctor before making major dietary changes.

How well does it conform to accepted dietary guidelines?

Fat. You’ll have no problem staying within the government’s recommendation that 20 to 35 percent of daily calories come from fat. A sample daily menu below provides 20 percent fat.

Protein. The diet is within the acceptable range for protein consumption — 17 percent, compared with the 10 to 35 percent the government recommends.

Carbohydrates. The government advises that between 45 and 65 percent of daily calories come from carbs. With the Acid Alkaline Diet, about 61 percent of your calorie intake will be carbs.

Salt. The majority of Americans consume too much salt. The recommended daily maximum is 2,300 milligrams of sodium, but if you’re 51 or older, African-American, or have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, the limit is 1,500 mg. A sample daily Acid Alkaline Diet menu provides 1,440 mg.

Other key nutrients. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines call these “nutrients of concern” because many Americans get too little of one or more of them:

  • Fiber. Getting the recommended daily amount of 22 to 34 grams for adults helps you feel full and promotes good digestion. Veggies, fruits, beans and whole grains — all major sources — are encouraged on this diet, so you should be able to meet the recommendation. A sample daily menu provides 22 grams.
  • Potassium. A sufficient amount of this important nutrient, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, counters salt’s ability to raise blood pressure, decreases bone loss and reduces the risk of developing kidney stones. It’s not that easy to get the recommended daily 4,700 mg. from food. (Bananas are high in potassium, yet you’d have to eat 11 a day.) The majority of Americans take in far too little potassium, and a sample daily menu came up short at 2,068 mg. How much potassium you get on the Acid Alkaline Diet is entirely up to you, but because you’re almost certainly eating more fruits and veggies than you were before, you’ll likely get more potassium than most.
  • Calcium. It’s essential not only to build and maintain bones but to make blood vessels and muscles function properly. Many Americans don’t get enough. Women and anyone older than 50 should try especially hard to meet the government’s recommendation of 1,000 to 1,300 mg. A sample daily menu provides 400 mg.
  • Vitamin B-12. Adults should shoot for 2.4 micrograms of this nutrient each day, which is critical for proper cell metabolism. Fish like salmon and trout, along with eggs and yogurt, are good sources. A sample daily menu provides 0.6 mcg.
  • Vitamin D. Adults who don’t get enough sunlight need to meet the government’s 15 microgram recommendation with food or a supplement to lower the risk of bone fractures. A sample daily menu provides 6.5 mcg. Just 3 ounces of sockeye salmon, which packs almost 20 micrograms of vitamin D, will satisfy the requirement.

Supplement recommended? No. Many supplements, and even generic prescription medicines, can negatively affect your pH.

How easy is it to follow?

While it may be difficult to cut back on your favorite fatty, sugary fare, the Acid Alkaline Diet doesn’t eliminate whole food groups from your diet. Rather, following the plan means making better choices for your overall pH. You can still eat acid-forming foods, but you need to pay attention to how many of them you’re consuming

Convenience:

The Acid Alkaline Diet takes work – you have to keep track of which foods are alkaline-formers and which are acid-formers. That can be a lot to remember. Recipes are abundant on the Internet, but you’ll have to put quite a bit of thought into your restaurant meals to make sure they emphasize alkaline-forming foods.

Recipes. A simple Google search yields plenty of options. And if you invest in a book like “Acid Alkaline Diet for Dummies,” you’ll have even more options at your fingertips.

Eating out. Sure – but keep in mind that some restaurants have meals that are more pH-friendly than others. If the menu offers standard American fare, opt for a large salad with olive oil for dressing, and request steamed veggies in lieu of fries or mashed potatoes. If you’re at a Chinese buffet, fill up on veggie- and egg-based soups, steamed broccoli and sautéed chicken or tofu. And if you’re going Greek, order a chicken shish kebab – and ditch the hummus and cheese pastries, which are acid-forming.

Alcohol. Alcohol is acid-forming, so it’s best to avoid it. Experts suggest trading your beer for a sparkling water.

Time-savers. None, unless you hire somebody to plan your meals, shop for you and prepare your lunch and dinner.

Extras. None.

Fullness:

Nutrition experts emphasize the importance of satiety, or the satisfied feeling that you’ve had enough. With so many fiber-packed whole grains and veggies (and without a calorie cap), you shouldn’t go hungry.

Taste:

You’re making everything, so if something doesn’t taste good, you know who to blame.

How much does it cost?

Other than your grocery bill, which should be no higher than usual, there are no expenses.

Does the diet allow for restrictions and preferences?

Most people can customize the Acid Alkaline Diet to fit their needs – just pick a preference for more information.

The bulk of the diet — fruits, vegetables and whole grains –are staples for vegetarians and vegans, who can easily follow the Acid Alkaline Diet.

People who can’t tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, can easily follow the Acid Alkaline Diet. The key is selecting gluten-free ingredients when possible

Doable, but it’s up to you to check the nutrition information on recipes and keep track of your sodium intake.

Yes, you can make sure your diet is kosher.

Yes, but it’s up to you to ensure your food conforms.

What is the role of exercise?

The Acid Alkaline Diet is only an eating pattern, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise. Physical activity lowers your risk of heart disease and diabetes, helps keep weight off and increases your energy level. Most experts suggest getting at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise – like brisk walking – most or all days of the week.


Last updated by Angela Haupt | January 03, 2014

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