Choosing Alkaline Foods For Your Healthy Diet

How Do You Choose Alkaline Foods photo

Foodary is full of alkaline foods information. I plan to make choosing alkaline foods easier with examples of alkaline diet plans.

Standard plans can help you get started with an alkaline diet. However, I prefer to help you find the alkaline foods that are right for you. That means working with you to choose the foods that match your health and your tastes.

I believe an alkaline diet is basically a healthy diet. But a diet that makes you alkaline might not be healthy for you. If you hate limited food options on a pre-made plan, you won’t stick to that diet. If you have a health problem that restricts your diet, a pre-made alkaline diet might not be your healthiest option.

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What Diet for Your Disease?

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Foodary is more than alkaline diets. I investigate and explain diets and health. All diets affect health, but here, I’m looking at specific diseases.

You must consider your personal health situation when planning your diet. If you suffer from any disease, it may affect your choice of food and drink items. Sometimes food groups are restricted, sometimes they are beneficial. Let’s look at different diet choices for specific diseases.

What Diet for Your Disease?

Recently, I reviewed alkaline diets and diseases in What has pH Balance to do with Diseases? Alkaline diet is important to me, but I want Foodary to cover all healthy eating plans.

Prompted by a recent report, I list various diets here. Later, I will take a more in-depth view of the most relevant diets and diseases. The report is “Types of diet and their nutritional impact on health,” published in the May 2014 edition of Science and Technology (Sci. Technol. 2014, 1(1), 26-29). There is very little specific detail in the report, but it does give a very useful overview that I will choose as a starting point. It also has the facts wrong on alkaline diet, but this is not unusual in many books and published nutrition studies.

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Best Alkaline Foods Servings

Best Alkaline Foods Servings photo

My best alkaline foods servings list shows the top 100 most alkaline foods by serving size.

In my previous Most Alkaline Key Foods List, I looked at the best popular foods. That information is derived from the list of key foods prepared by USDA. Unfortunately, we know that popular foods are not necessarily healthy, so I have widened the scope.

My new list of best alkaline foods shows the top 100 alkaline foods in the entire USDA foods list. The biggest drawback of that list is high levels of duplication. I’ve tried to reduce this by omitting:

  • Obvious duplicates where foods are listed with and without salt.
  • Baby foods
  • Highly processed foods

Salt does not affect PRAL estimates. So, I’ve omitted those duplicates. Processed foods are difficult to omit completely. I’ve tried to keep packaged foods that are not overtly unhealthy. However, some may have slipped through, so tell me if you see any unhealthy foods, and I will remove them.

Read the Best Alkaline Foods Servings List now

pH Balance and Diabetes

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Earlier, I looked at several diseases that might be helped with an alkaline diet.

Today, I am adding diabetes to that list.

Before I look at how pH balance might help diabetes, I need to clarify some important points about alkaline diets and pH balance.

I will explain the importance of measuring food intake the right way. Then I will describe a nutrition study showing a link between correctly measured alkaline foods and diabetes.

Alkaline Diets and pH Balance

pH Balance and Diabetes photoBoth these terms are used widely in books, the Internet, and wider media. They are related in that pH Balance is what we strive to achieve, and alkaline diet is the way to achieve it. pH Balance simply means that the food you eat balances the acid load on your kidneys. It is measured by testing urine:

The target pH for urine in healthy individuals is 6.5 to 7 in the morning, rising to 7.5 through the day.

Confusion arises when people publish data on food pH values, made worse because they usually omit to explain how pH has been measured. Food pH, however it is measured, does not affect acid load. It is useless, and potentially dangerous, to measure pH values for food or food ash. We know that alkaline diets can be beneficial, but if you use the wrong measurements, you can mistakenly eat too many acid-forming foods or eat too few alkaline-forming foods.

The correct food measurements for alkaline diets estimate the acid load on the kidneys. PRAL (Potential Renal Acid Load) is currently the best measurement, though I have also explained other options for defining pH Balance Diet Scores.

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Redefining pH Balance Diet Scores

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I started my pH balance diet scoring system with Potential Renal Acid Load (PRAL). This is a relatively simple way to estimate how healthy your diet is.

Let me explain why PRAL, and simpler alternatives, are important to planning a healthy pH balance diet. Along the way I will also warn you of the dangers of older methods. We have known about weaknesses of these older methods for over 30 years. Yet, they are still used to promote expensive drinks, supplements, books and diet plans.

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Magnesium for pH Balance

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Magnesium is the second alkaline component of the PRAL calculation for pH Balance Diet Score. That PRAL calculation has links to top food lists for other nutrients.

We need magnesium for over 300 processes in our body. These cover many vital functions, including nerves, muscles, immune system, bones, and heart.

Magnesium is found in many foods, including:

  • Spinach, bananas, dried apricots, avocados, and many other vegetables and fruits
  • Almonds, cashews, and other nuts
  • Peas, beans, and other legumes and seeds
  • Tofu, soy flour, and other soy products
  • Brown rice, millet, and other whole grains

Excess magnesium is rare, as our kidneys remove any we do not use. Despite this, the Department of Health magnesium fact sheet for health professionals reports:

Dietary surveys of people in the United States consistently show that intakes of magnesium are lower than recommended amounts.

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What foods can you eat on an alkaline diet?

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Do you want to know what foods you can eat on an alkaline diet?

Does that mean you want a list of alkaline foods, an alkaline diet plan, some recipes, or some general guidance about what types of food are alkaline?

I explain the different aspects of alkaline diet foods below. Before I explain those aspects, I need to be clear about what we mean by alkaline diet foods.

What are Alkaline Diet Foods?

I heard an actress talking about her alkaline diet recently. I was instantly reminded of the dangers of misunderstanding an Alkaline Food Diet. The actress hesitated when offered a taste of a fish based meal. She worried aloud that she wasn’t sure if she should accept it as she was following an alkaline diet.

The meal in question was a healthy meal prepared by a top chef. The acidic fish was well balanced with alkaline vegetables. There was no problem with the meal – but there was a big problem with understanding the concept of alkaline diets.

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What has pH Balance to do with Diseases?

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There is confusion about what pH balance is, mainly caused by spurious analysis of food ash. To clarify the nature of pH balance, I will explain it in terms of it’s links with various diseases. This is the first of many articles exploring links between healthy eating and illness. Here, I will look at one nutrition study that investigates alkaline diet and various diseases[1].

What is pH Balance?

The report starts with a background to alkaline diet, and the role of pH balance in body tissues. It notes that pH balance has changed considerably over the last 10,000 years, with especially rapid changes during the last 200 years. There has also been a significant shift from more potassium than sodium, to the reverse.

It is generally accepted that agricultural humans today have a diet poor in magnesium and potassium as well as fiber and rich in saturated fat, simple sugars, sodium, and chloride as compared to the preagricultural period. This results in a diet that may induce metabolic acidosis which is mismatched to the genetically determined nutritional requirements

The report continues with explanations of the need for different pH values in different parts of the body. Minerals move around the body to provide the environment needed in specific locations. The net effect shows in urine, which may be acidic or alkaline depending on prevailing conditions. It notes that this can be influenced by diet, and the Potential Renal Acid Load (PRAL) scores can be used to estimate pH balance.

The rest of the report, except the conclusions, cover the relationships between pH balance and various diseases.

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Potassium for pH Balance

High Potassium Foods Photo

Potassium is one of three alkaline components of the PRAL calculation for pH Balance Diet Score.

We need potassium for several functions in our bodies, and it is also important for balancing the effects of too much sodium. The risks of average diets in America are important, and so I turn to Harvard School of Public health once again to share modern nutrition thinking about potassium:

Most Americans consume far too much sodium and far too little potassium, an eating pattern that puts them at higher risk of heart disease and death. Making a few changes in food choices can help shift the balance. Potassium levels are naturally high in vegetables and fruits, and sodium levels are naturally low. Large amounts of sodium are often added to foods during processing. So choosing produce that is fresh or frozen, or choosing foods that have not had salt added in processing, can help curb dietary sodium and boost potassium.

Potassium deficiency can lead to muscle weakness, abnormal heartbeat, and slightly elevated blood pressure. On the other hand, too much potassium can also be bad for the heart, and kidney patients might need lower than normal intake. So what is normal potassium intake?

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Phosphorus for pH Balance

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Phosphorus is the secondary acidic component of the PRAL calculation for pH Balance. We need phosphorus mainly for strong teeth and bones. However, it is also essential for many other body functions.

Phosphorus affects how our bodies use carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It helps our bodies store energy, and it works with B vitamins. Other important functions that need phosphorus are:

  • Kidney functions
  • Muscle contraction
  • Normal heartbeat
  • Nerve signals

Fortunately, phosphorus is available from most foods, and there is never usually a shortage in a typical balanced diet. Our kidney’s readily dispose of excess, which leads to one important aspect of phosphorus in nutrition. Most people never need worry about it, but sufferers from kidney disease are often advised to reduce phosphorus intake.

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