Friday, May 29, 2009

alkaline acid diet challenges | coffee

As an alkaline acid dietary challenge for the month of May I tried giving up coffee to evaluate whether it is a good or bad thing for me. I have been trying to eat a high alkaline foods diet for pH balance since March. In a paper published in 1995 researching the acidifying and alkalizing effects of various foods upon the body, the authors classify it as an alkaline food. So is it a case of alkaline coffee or acidic coffee? Originally when I decided to quit I was under the impression that its classification fell under acid foods. Now I believe that this is not the case. Many charts list coffee as acidic.

Unfortunately I failed on my alkaline acid diet challenge as I only lasted 20 days before a sweet old lady gave me a cup of coffee and I felt it would have been too rude to decline. However even with the shorter time frame I gained valuable insight into its effects on my body as well as how it impacts my diet.

Regardless of whether coffee is acid or alkaline, I have decided that drinking it is okay for me so long as I do it in moderation. Too much and there is always a crash afterwards. Of possibly more concern is that drinking too much displaces other drinks from my diet, e.g. water and Japanese green tea. The alkaline diet and healthy diets in general stress the importance of consuming adequate amounts of water throughout the day. There are also notable health benefits attributed to green tea.

What I dis-like about the acid alkaline diet information available online is that the majority of it suggests that we should simply use the acid/alkaline food classifications as guidelines to help us make decisions on what to eat. In an attempt to alkalize the body we must not forget the importance of nutrition. By their very nature, alkaline foods are nutritious. However many acidic foods also contain plenty of vitamins and minerals and give other health benefits.

So is coffee alkaline or coffee acid? According to many of the alkaline acid diet food chart lists, coffee is acidic. However using the PRAL calculation, the acid/alkaline ash comes out as alkaline coffee rather than coffee = acid. The thing to remember with the acid alkaline diet is that making food choices to eat a high alkaline foods diet based solely on the ash pH may not be the only factor to take into consideration. Certainly if all you are worried about is the pH balance of your body, eating alkaline foods will alkalize your body. However nutritional values as well as pH balance is important too.

What seems to affect my body more than drinking coffee is consuming decent quantities of alkaline foods, namely fruit and vegetables each day. When I am eating over ten servings per day, the adverse effects of "bad foods" is diminished. I have always known that eating fruit and vegetables is a good thing. The acid alkaline diet literature has simply reminded me of that fact and made me excited to be doing so. Anyone trying to eat a high alkaline foods diet need not worry about acidifying effects of coffee.

For my next alkaline acid dietary challenge I am planning on completely giving up alcohol for the month of June. Drinking mildly alkaline coffee is something I will do on an occasional basis.

References: Remer T, Manz F. Potential renal acid load of foods and its influence on urine pH. J Am Diet Assoc 1995;95:791

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

alkaline acid diet diary

Today I decided to keep a complete record of the foods I ate as part of my alkaline acid diet. Plenty of what I eat could certainly be considered acid foods. However my diet is much better than at the start of the year as the amount of alkaline foods made up of fruit and vegetables that I eat has greatly increased. A large part of this increase comes from all the juices I make with my magimix le duo juicer.

breakfast: carrot (2), orange (3) and ginger (slice) juice; white rice; natto
between breakfast and lunch: 5 cups of green tea
lunch: chirashi-zushi; soba noodles; prawn tempura; fruit salad + yogurt; green tea; iced coffee
afternoon: 3 cups of coffee + piece of cake
late afternoon snack: banana
post gym: almonds (5); cashews (5); banana/soy/protein shake
dinner: white rice; tinned fish (saury); kimchi; boiled cabbage
evening juice: apple (2), spinach (1 serving) and ginger (slice) juice

Alkaline foods: 2 carrots, 3 oranges, 2 bananas, 1 portion of boiled cabbage; 2 apples; 1 portion of spinach, small serving of fruit salad

Even though thinking only in terms of alkaline and acid food my diet appears to still be made up of too high a proportion of acid foods, I am feeling much better about myself because of the amounts of fruit and vegetables I am now eating. My current goal is to ensure I eat over 10 servings of alkaline foods each day. In effect, this translates to over 10 pieces of fruit and vegetables. The majority of this comes from juicing. Something else I would like to increase is the amount of solid alkaline foods that consume. Eating more potatoes instead of rice is one simple option I can pursue.

Starting the day with an alkaline breakfast sets me up well and consuming 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables means it is easy to push on during the rest of the day to reach 10 or more servings of foods that alkalize.

Alkaline foods are really just healthy foods so the alkaline acid diet has a lot in common with a simple common sense balanced diet.

Reference: Remer T, Manz F. Potential renal acid load of foods and its influence on urine pH. J Am Diet Assoc 1995;95:791

Saturday, May 2, 2009

acid alkaline foods

To be able to follow the alkaline acid diet we have to be aware of the acidity in food. Which food groups are acid foods and which are alkaline foods? Broadly speaking, fruit and vegetables are alkaline foods while processed foods, dairy and meats are acidic foods. However do we really need an alkaline acid diet to tell us that eating more fruits and vegetables is good for us? Also does it seem strange that citrus fruits like oranges and lemons would be classed as alkaline foods? What about the conflicting information on various food charts? For example, coffee can't really be "mildly alkaline" and "highly acidic" at the same time, can it?

Firstly, we all know that eating a higher percentage of fruit and vegetables in our diets is a good thing. It ensures we get sufficient vitamins and minerals to keep our bodies healthy. The acid alkaline diet attempts to show that there is a further nutritional benefit from fruit and vegetables, predominately alkaline foods, which is the alkalizing effect they have upon us. The alkaline acid diet proposes that it is the acidity in food which causes our body to function sub-optimally.

Benefits of eating a healthier diet, like the acid alkaline diet include, potentially reducing the risk or severity of cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, gastrointestinal disease and acne.

Typical Western diets include too much of what are termed acid foods, in too high quantities. Consuming this kind of dietary acid load may lead to a disruption in delicate alkaline acid balance in our bodies and eventually may even lead to chronic diseases through continuous borrowing of the body's alkaline reserves in an effort to rid ourselves of excess acidity. I have previously discussed negative health impacts of eating an acid rich diet.

alkaline foods

As already stated, fruit and vegetables are alkaline foods. This may seem strange when you consider that lemons have a pH of between 2 and 3. But according to the science, lemons are alkaline foods. It is not the acidity of the food itself that is important. Rather it is the protein and mineral composition which determines what sort of pH effect it will have on us.

The notion of acid and alkaline comes not from the actual acidity or alkalinity of foods in their natural state. Instead it refers to the ash the food leaves after it has been burnt, or metabolized by the body. So even though lemons are without question acidic in their natural state, after our bodies metabolize citrus fruits, they leave an alkaline ash.

A study that influences many acid alkaline food charts comes from 1995 and was conducted by Remer and Manz. The research paper, Potential renal acid load of foods and its influence on urine pH, lists many foods and provides values that signify how acidic or alkaline their ash is. Some highly alkaline fruit and vegetables include, spinach, raisins and dried figs.

acid foods

Eating so called acid foods is not a bad thing in itself. Rather it is eating a diet that contains too high a percentage of acidic foods that could become a problem. The acidity of foods themselves is not necessarily the problem either. Fish, meat, bread and rice all appear to be acidic. However eating a diet that neglects to incorporate a high percentage of alkaline foods along with foods from the acidic side of the scale may lead to health problems already mentioned.

There are plenty of acid foods that are good for us in many respects. Particularly acidic foods include brown rice and egg yolks. Unless you were being dogmatic about the alkaline acid diet, many people would still want to include these in their diets. So the important point to bear in mind is that eating acid foods is fine, even to be encouraged as by virtue of their acidity doesn't make them un-nutritious foods. If you are keen on keeping your body in a healthy state of alkaline acid balance however, you must ensure that you consume plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables every day. Not only does this provide you with high levels of nutrients and minerals, they help your body neutralize the acidic effects of the acid foodstuffs that you consume.

References: Uriel S. Barzel and Linda K. Massey Excess Dietary Protein Can Adversely Affect Bone The Journal of Nutrition Vol. 128 No. 6 June 1998, pp. 1051-1053