Benefits and balance of eating alkaline

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“Some people think that having a body PH level that is slightly more acidic makes you more prone to diseases, but everyone’s blood really is a similar PH level – and it’s not going to be influenced that much by what we are eating.”

When it comes to healthy eating Naturopathic Doctor (ND), Amy Florian, says alkaline foods such as vegetables, berries and fruits provide us with great immediate and long-lasting benefits.

A popular approach to conscientious eating is one that gravitates toward alkaline foods – focusing primarily on a plant-based diet. The alkaline diet is based on the idea that replacing acid-forming foods with alkaline foods can improve health.

The Kentville-based ND says consuming alkaline foods is a great way to maintain and improve healthy mind and body functions. She also notes that any type of dietary regime should include an understanding of how certain foods are processed in our bodies. This way we can make appropriate choices with realistic goals.

“It’s a bit of a myth that if you eat alkaline foods – mainly fruits and vegetables, berries, very natural, plant-based foods – that your blood would be more alkaline and you would be at less of a risk to develop some diseases such as cancer, or inflammatory conditions, like arthritis.”

As a naturopathic doctor, Florian has counselled individuals with a broad spectrum of health concerns from the short-term tune-ups to chronic and acute pathological concerns. Using diet as a complementary and supportive therapy for everything from digestive and irritable bowel (IBS) concerns to patients working through cancer and radiation treatment.

The body’s natural acid/alkaline PH balance – also referred to as its acid-base balance – pertains to the level of acids and bases in our blood, allowing our body to function at its best. A normal blood PH level is about 7.4 on a scale of 0 to 14. Zero as the most acidic and 14 as the most basic. The value can vary slightly in either direction.

Florian says an alkaline diet has numerous benefits, but it should not be considered a panacea. She explains how our bodies maintain a PH balance:

 “If you eat an alkaline diet it certainly has many benefits for your body and it might make your urine more alkaline; but it can’t actually affect your blood alkalinity. This is all controlled by your kidneys and your potassium and electrolyte balances – this is mainly what would change your blood alkalinity. When people think that they can create blood alkalinity through an alkaline diet -or cure an illness simply by becoming vegan or vegetarian – it’s not the case. Blood alkalinity is actually controlled by how well your kidneys are functioning. Acidic foods are meat, meat by-products and processed foods. I think, in general, people know that the more natural the better and that does tend to be foods that are more alkaline.”

Forian says for a generally healthy individual looking to up their probiotic intake, or help with digestion, there are many easily accessible alkaline and fermented foods to choose from – such as sauerkraut, lemons, kombucha, kefir, apple cider vinegar, vegetables and fruits. Acidic and alkaline are terms used to describe the nature of the food before it is eaten.

“The interesting thing about alkaline/ fermented foods is that some of them initially seem acidic, but once we digest them, they have an alkaline effect on the body. Examples of these are foods such as lemons and vinegars.”

Lemons contain up to six per cent acid, but in the body converts to alkaline – warm lemon water in the morning is excellent to detox the liver and cleanse the colon.

Florian says anyone with chronic or serious health concerns should always consult their physician, or dietician, before making dietary changes.