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A simple guide to an alkaline-forming diet

What does it mean to say that a food is alkaline-forming? When foods are digested they are broken down, absorbed, pass through various metabolic processes and then enter the blood – either in a more acidic or more alkaline form, depending on the food. The measured acidity of the food before it is digested is not necessarily an indication of how it will affect your blood pH. For example, lemon and apple cider vinegar are very acidic, but when they are digested they are alkaline-forming in the body. What is the theory? Our body strives to maintain a pH of about 7.35 and it is very efficient in doing so, no matter what we eat. However, if the body is constantly struggling to reduce an acidic environment it becomes prone to illness for the following reasons:

  • Acidity is a stressor to the body. Long-term, low level stress leads to fatigue, weight gain and reduced immunity.
  • Constant need to buffer an acidic environment causes the body to draw minerals from the body e.g. calcium, magnesium, potassium etc. This might lead to reduced bone mass and risk of kidney stones.
  • An acidic environment leads to increased free-radical formation at the cellular level.

Why do we need to eat more alkaline-forming foods? It is almost impossible to avoid eating some acid-forming foods, but you can help your body by balancing your intake of acid-forming foods with some alkaline-forming foods, so that you are not resorting to other ways of correcting the imbalance. There is no extensive research detailing the exact quantities of these foods we should eat, but there are guides to help us choose more alkaline-forming foods. In general, basic common sense and good nutrition advice leads to consumption of moderate amounts of acid-forming foods (e.g. meat) with an abundance of alkaline-forming foods (e.g. vegetables). Try to make 75% of your diet more alkaline-forming. Alkaline-forming foods:

  • All vegetables, especially leafy greens
  • Fresh herbs
  • Garlic & ginger
  • Sweet potatoes and squash
  • All fruits, especially lemon, grapefruit, papaya, lime, melons and mangos

Grain-like seeds:

  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Amaranth
  • Wild rice
  • Buckwheat

Stevia Apple cider vinegar Miso paste Sesame seeds Neutral Foods: Flax seed oil Almonds Coconut Rooibos tea Green tea Green supplements e.g. chlorella, spirulina, wheat grass, Flax seeds Chia seeds Dried herbs & spices Coconut Macadamia nuts Walnuts Agave Raw honey Cold pressed oils Mildly acid-forming foods: Beans & legumes Brown rice Oats Spelt Pumpkin seeds Sunflower seeds Goats cheese Hemp protein Acid-forming foods: Milk and milk products Whey protein Chocolate Coffee Alcohol White sugar Artificial sweeteners Soft drinks Roasted peanuts Margarine & butter Fish Chicken Meat Refined flours & products made from them e.g. pasta, cereals, breads, biscuits etc. Stress – although not a food, this contributes to acidity in the body.

Kelly Schreuder – Registered Dietician & Private Chef Combining her dietetics and professional culinary backgrounds, Kelly has a deep understanding of how to use food to enhance health and get the most from your body. She runs her practice at the Velocity Sports Lab in Hout Bay and offers private or group cooking demonstrations in your kitchen. | 082 321 8463 | @CTdietician

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