First and foremost, there are only a handful of ways that you can change the pH – or acidity – of your body, these include persistent vomiting and organ failure… not diet and not ideal.
Think of pH as a scale with alkaline substances at one end, and acidic substances at the other. Our bodies lie somewhere near the middle of the scale, almost neutral if not for a slight tendency towards the alkaline end. This pH is very tightly regulated by both our lungs and our kidneys to keep it within a very narrow range necessary for our bodies to function.
Long story short, you can’t change the pH of your whole body through foods, nor should you want to as even a slight deviation would require immediate medical attention.
It is clear that the reasoning of the Alkaline Diet is pH-alse. However, I can’t argue against the types of foods that the diet promotes, which include: fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, plant proteins, and healthy oils. Alternatively, the diet encourages the restriction of sugars, caffeine, processed foods and animal products.
The Healthy Mindset
Granted, the Alkaline Diet has some healthful qualities that can be used as a conversation starter on the basics of healthy eating.
The most important tidbit to remember, especially in this day and age, is that diets don’t change lives, lifestyle changes do.
Diets follow rules, whilst lifestyle changes follow principles. The key difference being that rules control and principles guide.
On these grounds, I would not encourage following the Alkaline Diet per se because abiding by a rigid set of dietary rules in the game of life is not sustainable!
*cue memes about diet culture*
In a sense, healthy eating can be thought of as a sport that takes practice and repetition to hone your skills. Two key enabling exercises include 1) eating more plant-based foods, and 2) choosing whole foods often.
Establishing Healthy Eating Practices
Eat More Plant-Based
Plant-based is a term becoming more and more prevalent in recent times. Eating plant-based simply means opting for vegetables, fruits, and plant sources of protein more frequently than animal products.
You don’t need to be a full-fledged vegan to reap health rewards from incorporating more beans, greens, nuts, and seeds into your daily routine.
That being said, we could all benefit from having a Meatless Monday, Tofu Taco Tuesday, and Sprouts Sunday in our lives.
Choose Whole Foods Often
This principle can be trickier to navigate than the first because certain healthy foods have to undergo some form of processing for it to be safer and easier to eat. Some examples include tofu or pasteurized milk.
This is where reading ingredient labels comes in handy. In general, whole foods with minimal processing will have a simple ingredient list which reflects that.
The unfortunate truth is that, more often than not, if a food comes in a package it likely has unhealthy additives such as sugars, sodium, and saturated fats.
Saying, “Choose whole foods more often” just translates to selecting oats over Lucky Charms, potatoes over frozen fries, and chicken breast over breaded chicken fingers.
Moderation is Key
All in all, using the two guiding principles outlined above will have you well on your way towards making healthy eating a habit.
This isn’t to say that healthy eating means never having a burger and fries, or a second slice of pie ever. More than anything, healthy eating is about moderation… and sometimes this includes moderation in moderation.
Are there any healthy eating principles that you live by? Share them in the comments below!
Thanks for reading,
Kirsten Allen, BSc Kin, RD