The alkaline or base diet is considered alternative medical nutrition and is still not given due consideration in nutritional science. This is justified by the argument that our bodies are perfectly equipped for a healthy life and have natural buffer systems.
However, it’s important to consider that the alkaline-excess diet of our ancestors has changed significantly compared to today’s. What was once a diet based solely on natural foods has evolved into one heavy with baked goods, animal products, and nutrient-poor convenience foods. Hidden sugars, trans fats, various additives and pesticide contamination represent additional burdens. As a result, our diet today contains a lot of acid-formers.
This challenges us to take a closer look at questions surrounding the acid-base balance:
- What are acid and alkaline-forming foods?
- How do our bodies deal with too many acids?
- What can an alkaline diet do?
In this article we’ll delve into these exciting questions and explore the effects of an alkaline diet.
The Acid-Base Balance
The term acid-base balance summarizes all the control mechanisms that serve to balance the pH value and keep all areas of the body in their optimal environment.
Every area of the body is subject to a certain pH value and our metabolic processes function optimally within these values.
Physical pH levels are:
- Saliva – slightly alkaline – 7 to 7.1
- Stomach – acidic – 1.2 to 2.5
- Small intestine – alkaline – around 7.5
- Large intestine – slightly acidic – 5.5 to 6.8
- Connective tissue – very slightly alkaline – 7.1 to 7.3
- Blood – slightly alkaline – 7.35 to 7.45
The pH value of the blood is of immense importance, which is why our bodies give it top priority to maintain.
The pH Value
The unit of measurement for the acid-base balance is the pH value. The abbreviation pH comes from the Latin potentia hydrogenii, meaning “concentration of hydrogen ions”. The pH value is determined on a scale from 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acidic, 14 being the most alkaline and 7 being neutral.
The graphic makes this clear:
In order to maintain optimal pH values, the human organism has intelligent buffer systems such as the carbonic acid/bicarbonate buffer. These mechanisms absorb pH fluctuations.
In healthy adults, the capacity of these systems is so great that the acid-base balance remains in equilibrium even with an unbalanced diet. However, under long-term stress, the buffer capacities can be exhausted.
When Does a Food Have an Base or Acid-Forming Effect?
We deliberately use the terms base or acid-forming. This is because acidic foods do not necessarily have an acidic effect on the body. It’s more about whether a food is metabolized into acids or bases.
As a rough guide:
Whether food has an acid-forming or base-forming effect in our bodies is essentially determined by the content of base-forming minerals and the acid load on the kidneys due to acid-forming minerals.
A food that has a high proportion of alkaline minerals and a low protein content is an alkaline-forming food and has an alkaline effect on our bodies.
Basic minerals are:
Wild herbs, sprouts, salads, vegetables, and fruit have a high proportion of alkaline minerals.
Acidic minerals are:
Protein-rich foods, such as all animal products or additives in processed foods, have a high proportion of acidic minerals. When they break down, acids are formed that cannot be exhaled, turning into so-called non-volatile acids.
Some examples are:
- Uric acid from consuming animal proteins
- Nitric acid from consuming cured meat
- Sulfuric acid from consuming pork, cheese, quark, grains
- Phosphoric acid from consuming soft drinks, sausage products, processed cheese, grains
How Do Our Bodies Deal With Acids?
It’s important to know that acids are constantly produced in our bodies during metabolism. For example, carbonic acid is formed during cellular respiration, hydrochloric acid during stress, and lactic acid (lactate) during intensive exercise.
Added to this are the acids that arise from the metabolism of acid-forming foods. In order to keep the base balance in equilibrium despite all these acids being produced, our bodies have sophisticated drainage mechanisms in addition to the buffer systems.
Acid removal through breathing
Volatile, gaseous carbonic acid in the form of carbon dioxide, which is created as a waste product when energy is produced from carbohydrates in the body’s cells, can be exhaled through the lungs. Weak organic acids, such as citric acid, acetic acid, oxalic acid, and butyric acid, which are left behind when plant proteins are metabolized, are also broken down into carbon dioxide in the body and can be exhaled.
Acid excretion via the urinary organs
Non-volatile acids, which are mainly formed when proteins are broken down, are excreted by the kidneys in the urine as uric acid, sulfuric acid, or phosphoric acid.
Acid excretion through the skin
Acids are also secreted through the sweat glands in our skin. Acid excretion can be additionally supported through sweating, physical exercise, saunas, or alkaline baths.
Breathing is very important for our acid-base balance, as most acids are excreted – as carbon dioxide – through breathing!
Consequences of a Persistently Acid-Producing Diet
RA high and persistent acid load sooner or later leads to an overtaxing of the buffer and drainage systems. Today, such high acid loads often arise from the consumption of animal protein, baked goods, ready-made products, and soft drinks, but also from constant stress, lack of exercise, excessive exercise, or taking medication.
Acid neutralization with the help of basic minerals
If the body is no longer able to excrete the resulting acids, a kind of emergency program follows and the acids are converted into salts with the help of basic minerals in order to neutralize them and store them temporarily or permanently.
What is temporarily helpful, however, has fatal consequences in the long term. This leads to the consumption of valuable minerals and thus to mineral deficiencies as well as deposits or so-called “slagging”.
The basic minerals required for neutralization are taken from food. However, if the food you eat contains too few of them, the required minerals must be taken from the body’s stores.
- Connective tissue
- Vessel walls
- Bones and cartilage tissue
The first signs of a diet that is too high in acid can be seen in the so-called “mineral-robbing diseases”. These include brittle fingernails, hair loss, and fatigue, as well as demineralization of the teeth and bones (osteoporosis).
Deposits and their consequences
If our daily metabolism produces so many acids through our diet or lifestyle that our bodies are no longer able to eliminate them, neutralized acids are temporarily stored in the body.
Our bodies gradually create deposits or we could also say “wastes” as a result. This is a major cause of aging processes and countless physical complaints.
Hyperacidification of the body can cause many different symptoms, such as lack of energy, digestive disorders, weight gain, skin problems, and depressive moods.
The following illnesses can also occur:
- Arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure – due to deposits in the blood vessels
- Cellulite – deposits in the connective tissue
- Arthritis and gout – deposits in the joints
- Digestive problems – deposits in the intestines
- Kidney and gallstones – deposits in the kidneys or bile
Holistic Measures for a Balanced Acid-Base Balance
The wonderful news is that we can do something about the consequences of acidification. We can eat in such a way that our bodies have the opportunity to remove the toxins step by step.
Below you will find a comprehensive catalog of measures that allow you to end and reverse the storage process.
1. The alkaline diet
To repeat: All foods that are rich in minerals, i.e. have a high proportion of alkaline minerals and only a low protein content, are alkaline-forming.
- Wild herbs and sprouts
- Salads and almost all vegetables
- Ripe fruits
- Sprouted seeds and nuts
- Herbs and spices
Tip: Choose plenty of green, fiber-rich root vegetables and supplement them with protein-rich sprouted seeds and nuts.
The alkaline-rich diet
The 80/20 rule has proven useful for a balanced acid-base balance, meaning that an alkaline-rich diet should ideally consist of 80% alkaline-forming foods and 20% acid-forming foods.
The alkaline diet
The alkaline diet is a diet that consists of 100% alkaline-forming foods. Here we’re talking about an alkaline treatment or alkaline fasting, which is only practiced for a certain period.
2. Supportive measures
Deacidification can also be significantly supported by our lifestyle:
- Conscious breathing to support the excretion of carbon dioxide via the lungs
- Regular exercise in fresh air
- Moderate exercise and brisk walks stimulate breathing, oxygen supply, and metabolism and promote deacidification via the lungs and skin
- Drinking water so that dissolved acids can be excreted through the kidneys
- Inner relaxation
- Limit your medication to what is absolutely necessary
- Natural skin care – conventional personal care products such as shower gel, shampoo, lotions and deodorants supply the body with additional acids. They contain plenty of synthetic ingredients, usually have an acidic pH value, and hinder the normal excretion of acid through the skin
- Alkaline baths or alkaline foot baths support the body in deacidification by helping to eliminate acids and toxins through the skin
- Brush massages – activate the metabolism and especially the lymphatic flow and thus the removal of metabolic waste products
- Colonic irrigation relieves pressure on the colon and supports detoxification and deacidification
Many of the tables in circulation refer to the information provided by Ragnar Berg (1873-1956). He recognized that a high protein content is positively influenced by an excess of bases in the food.
In 1995, Professors Manz and Remer put together tables to evaluate the acid and base effects of foods using the PRAL formula they developed. The PRAL value provides information about the expected burden on the kidneys from acids from food. According to this, the balance of acids and bases after their metabolism in the body is decisive for the acid or base effect of a food.
Berg, Remer, and Manz do not take into account the acidic effect of foods containing purine. This aspect was included in Sabine Wacker’s tables. Purines are nitrogen compounds that are broken down into uric acid during metabolism and can have an aggravating or even causal effect on degenerative joint diseases.
We’re guided by Sabine Wacker’s acid-base table, according to which acid-forming foods are further divided into “good” and “bad” acid-formers (1).
“Good” acid-formers are foods that have a high health value despite their acidic effect. They have a weak acid-forming effect, provide many valuable vital substances, and only contain a few additives that put a strain on the metabolism. These include, for example, millet and whole grain rice, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, legumes, seeds, and nuts (ungerminated).
Bad acid generators
“Bad” acid-formers put a much greater strain on the metabolism than the good ones and provide fewer nutrients. Bad acid-forming foods are particularly high-protein products such as meat, fish, milk, cheese, sausage, and eggs. The sulfates (sulfuric acid salts) and phosphates (phosphoric acid salts) produced during protein breakdown put a strain on the acid balance.
High consumption of white flour and sugar is also considered negative for the acid-base balance, as many minerals are required for their metabolism in the body and this can use up the buffers. They’re therefore referred to as mineral robbers.
Particular caution is required with ready-made products. They’re usually low in nutrients and contain a variety of acid-forming ingredients and additives.
Parallels Between Alkaline-Forming and Mucus-Free Diets
The mucus-free diet was founded at the beginning of the 19th century by German naturopath Arnold Ehret. Arnold Ehret saw every disease, no matter what name it’s known by to medical science, as a blockage of the duct system (blood vessel and lymphatic system) and as an attempt by the body to eliminate mucus and poisons.
Low-protein, low-fat, and alkaline-forming foods prove to be mucus-free. It’s astonishing to realize that the majority of foods considered “acid-forming” were classified by Arnold Ehret as “mucus-forming,” and “alkaline-forming” foods correspond almost exactly to “mucus-free.”
Ehret estimated the acid-base tables according to Ragnar Berg. He saw this as confirming his classification of foods into mucus-forming and non-mucus-forming, as they largely corresponded to acid and base-forming foods.
The alkaline diet focuses primarily on foods that are metabolized in an alkaline manner in the body, such as fruit, vegetables, sprouts, herbs, and activated seeds and nuts. These foods are particularly rich in important nutrients, especially minerals, and ensure optimally functioning physical processes.
With an alkaline-forming diet:
- we support the acid-base balance
- all metabolic processes can take place in their optimal environment
- no additional deposits occur and existing deposits can break down
- important detoxification processes can proceed according to a plan
- we counteract diseases of civilization
“No disease can exist in an alkaline environment, not even cancer.”
Dr. Otto Heinrich Warburg, winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1931
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