The human body's pH levels are naturally alkaline. The pH scale measures how acidic or alkaline a substance is (0 is acidic, 14 is alkaline and 7 is neutral). Bodies need a pH between 7.35-7.45 to function properly. However, consuming alkaline drinks and foods doesn't affect that number.
The body is very efficient in maintaining an acid-base homeostasis through renal and respiratory processes, and despite the popularity of alkaline diets, there is no scientific evidence that consuming certain foods and drinks can actually change blood pH. However, there may be other alkaline water benefits and alkaline food benefits, too.
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In a 2012 article in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, researchers found increased fruits and vegetables (which tend to be non-acidic) in an alkaline diet may benefit bone health and mitigate chronic diseases like hypertension and stroke. And a May 2017 study in the Journal of Renal Nutrition showed that patients with chronic kidney disease felt better when they were on an alkaline diet.
Read More: What Is an Alkaline Diet?
There are many naturally alkaline drinks that you can add to your diet to help maintain overall health. Drinking alkaline beverages is also good for your teeth, as acidic drinks can cause dental erosion.
Natural Alkaline Drinks
Water: Pure water has a neutral pH of 7, with tap water around 7.4. Bottled water generally has pH levels between 6.9-7.5, though carbonated water (pH levels between 4.9-5.5) is acidic because it contains carbonic acid. Unsweetened ginger is also alkaline, so adding it to your water can help increase the pH. Proper hydration varies by individual, but it is important to drink adequate water for many body functions such as keeping your heart, brain and muscles healthy.
Dairy and milk alternatives: According to the American College of Healthcare Sciences, raw milk — both goat and cow — is alkaline. A July 2015 study in Nutrition Today concluded that raw milk doesn't have any more nutrients but does carry more food poisoning risks than pasteurized milk.
Buttermilk and yogurt are also both alkaline. Almonds and soybeans are alkaline-forming foods, so dairy alternatives like soy milks are also alkaline drinks. The pH of almond milk is also alkaline.
Tea: The pH of tea makes unsweetened tea, including most herbal and green teas, alkaline drinks. Green tea also contains many antioxidants and has been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Read More: List of Non-Acidic Fruits and Vegetables
Fruit and Vegetable Juices: Many fruits and vegetables (such as cucumber, celery, spinach, kale, apples and oranges) have negative potential renal acid loads (PRAL). A negative PRAL indicates alkaline foods, while a positive PRAL indicates it is acidic. Natural, unsweetened, fruit or fruit and vegetable juices are alkaline drinks, in addition to having a number of other important nutrients.
A diet heavy in fruits and vegetables also has long-term health benefits. A July 2014 review in The BMJ showed that consuming about five servings of fruits and vegetables could help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality.
- Journal of Environmental and Public Health: "The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Health?"
- Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology: "Acid-Base Homeostasis"
- BMJ Open: "Systematic Review of the Association Between Dietary Acid Load, Alkaline Water and Cancer"
- Journal of Renal Nutrition: "Reducing the Dietary Acid Load: How a More Alkaline Diet Benefits Patients With Chronic Kidney Disease"
- The Journal of the American Dental Association: "The pH of Beverages Available to the American Consumer"
- Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Letter: "The Importance of Staying Hydrated"
- American College of Healthcare Sciences: "Wellness Guide"
- Nutrition Today: "Raw Milk Consumption Risks and Benefits"
- Current Pharmaceutical Design: "Tea and Health: Studies in Humans"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, The Nutrition Source: "Fruits and Vegetables"
- Asia Pacific Allergy: "The pH of Water From Various Sources: An Overview for Recommendation for Patients With Atopic Dermatitis"
- The BMJ: "Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Mortality from All Causes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer: Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies"