Consuming a diet that is high in acid-forming foods and low in alkaline foods is a contributing factor in many common health problems and degenerative diseases, says Felicia Drury Kliment, author of "The Acid Alkaline Balance Diet." The standard American diet, however, contains mostly acid-forming foods. Following an alkaline diet plan for optimal health involves both reducing the consumption of acid-forming foods and eating more alkaline-yielding foods.
Acid and Alkaline Balance
Kliment states that optimal bodily function relies on the correct balance of acid and basic, or alkaline, particles in the blood, lymph, urine and other bodily fluids. If too much acid accumulates in a particular part of the body, nearby organs can malfunction or degenerate. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, excessive acid in the body, or acidosis, can also be caused by alcohol, excessive exercise, low blood sugar or certain medications.
Effects of Acidosis
According to The Paleo Diet web site, acidosis is related to osteoporosis, heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, stroke, asthma and other health problems. When your diet contains more acids than alkalis, your body must buffer the acids with alkaline stores in the bones and muscles. Calcium and magnesium, alkaline minerals, are released from the bones, which can lead to bone loss over time.
To encourage the proper pH level in your body, eat a diet that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables. The most alkaline-forming foods are raisins, spinach and dates. Apricots, kiwi, black currants, bananas, cherries, celery, zucchini and tomatoes are also highly alkaline forming. Natural News recommends eating a diet in which 1/3 of your total calories come from fruits and vegetables.
Meat, dairy and most grains are acid-forming foods, but you do not have to give up these foods completely in order to follow an alkaline diet plan. The Paleo Diet recommends eating only lean meat, fish and seafood. Trim your meat of all visible fat. Limit your consumption of hard cheeses, bread, pasta, salty foods and soda.
Testing Your pH Level
To find out if your body is alkaline or acidic, you can use pH strips at home to test your saliva and urine. When you wake up in the morning, place some saliva on a test strip and compare the resulting color to the pH color chart included with the strips. You can also urinate on a strip or collect your urine in a glass cup. For best results, Natural News recommends testing your pH levels for 10 days. Omit your highest three and lowest three ratings, and average the remaining numbers. A neutral pH is 7; anything higher is alkaline. If your pH is too low, add more fruits and vegetables to your diet and retest in several weeks.