I’ve been alkalising and running this site for over 11 years now and I’ve learned a LOT about how to get alkaline & stay alkaline.
I get, through my Facebook page, via email, through my Alkaline Base Camp members, and my private clients a LOT of questions, every day – and I just love answering them!
So I decided to log them for a few weeks and find out those that come up again and again and put the answers here for everyone to learn from.
So if you are new to alkalising, or if you are a seasoned pro, you might learn something (or a lot!) – so here goes:
Your Top 10 Alkaline Diet Questions, Answered!
1. But You Can’t Change Your pH…my doctor/magazine/skeptical friend said so…
So many times I’m emailed by concerned people saying they had just gotten on board with the whole alkaline thing, but then their friend sent them to a website, or their doctor tells them:
“You can’t alter the pH of the body, the body has strict regulating mechanisms to keep it’s pH the same – so there is no point eating alkaline to try and make the body alkaline”.
The short answer to this is:
THAT’S EXACTLY THE POINT
The aim of the alkaline diet is NOT to try and raise the pH of the blood. Yes, that’s right. The aim of the alkaline diet is NOT to try and raise the pH of the blood.
The whole purpose of the alkaline diet is to prevent the body from having to do the regulating!
This is the biggest misconception that so-called experts have, who are so quick to criticise the alkaline diet. When the truth is, they simply haven’t done their research and are making themselves look like idiots.
The REAL damage of an Acidic Diet
Your doctor and friend are absolutely right, in that the body will do whatever it takes to regulate your blood pH (and the pH of other cellular fluids). But the constant need to do this regulating is what causes the massive problems with an overly acidic diet and lifestyle.
By living and eating alkaline, we relieve the body of this need to regulate and thus the body thrives. Of course, it helps (and is surely no coincidence) that all of the alkaline foods are also nutrient-dense, live, fresh, healthy, high-water-content, healthy foods that are full of vitamins, minerals and phytonutritents, antioxidants and more.
Is the Alkaline Diet Just a Little Convenient?
I digress slightly but do you think that this is a coincidence? Acidic foods are nutrient-devoid, unhealthy, artery-clotting, dead foods, sugary foods, trans-fats, refined foods, oxidising foods and foods that contribute zero nutrients to our body.
Whereas alkaline foods are the exact opposite. There is no alkaline food that is damaging to the body.
Find me a Doctor or reporter or friend that doesn’t agree that the following is a healthy diet:
– loads of fresh foods
– eat lots of vegetables, low sugar fruits, nuts, seeds, salads, juices, smoothies
– exercise daily
– live stress free and avoid toxins
– avoid trans fats, sugar, refined salts, refined foods, fast foods, takeaways, alcohol, tobacco, pizza, chips, chocolate, ice cream etc
– enjoy everything in moderation
That is the alkaline diet.
Anyway, to get back to the initial point…
We simply didn’t evolve with a body to cope with the changes to our diet that the modern world has given us. We didn’t evolve to be able to cope with such an acidic Standard Western Diet of yeasts, sugars, trans-fats, microwave meals, fast foods, pizzas, chips, chocolate.
Our body was not designed to be able to neutralise this much acid!
The human body creates it’s own acids (metabolic acids) and we evolved with a small acid buffering system which can happily, easily neutralise this acid that is caused by our body’s internal processes and metabolism. However, when we throw incredibly strong acids on top of this all day long, the body goes into shock – desperately trying to keep the pH of the blood and other fluids at a slightly alkaline pH of 7.365.
This is where the damage of the acidic diet occurs
We fully know and understand that the body will ALWAYS keep this pH of 7.365 and our aim is not to change it! Our aim is to give the body the tools it needs so that maintaining this pH is as easy as possible. Putting lots and lots of acid-forming foods puts the body into a huge tailspin and the damage snowballs.
The constant consumption of over-acidic foods and an over-acidic lifestyle leads to massive long term problems. The body will make all manner of long-term sacrifices to your health in order to maintain your short term health by keeping the pH of those cellular fluids at 7.365.
Calcium is pulled from the bones, magnesium is pulled from the muscle, and yeasts, bacteria and microform overgrowths become highly present in the digestive system – clogging your intestines and causing all manner of problems.
The alkaline diet is not aiming to change this 7.365 – it’s aiming to support the body, remove the stress of an acidic lifestyle and give the body the tools it needs to thrive.
So the summary is this:
The body will ALWAYS retain your blood pH in a very tight range close to pH 7.365. Your aim is NOT to change this, it is to support the body’s efforts to keep it there. The standard, modern, Western diet is incredibly acidic, and living such an acidic diet puts constant pressure on the body to try and neutralise these acids to retain the pH at the slightly alkaline 7.365. The real damage is done to the body not in simply consuming these foods, but the real damage is the fallout of the body having to work dramatically hard to neutralise the acids and retain the pH at 7.365.
So the next time someone tells you the alkaline diet is pointless, you now know the response to this. Let them continue to tell themselves there is no point in eating alkaline, and they can keep on slurping their soda and eating their burger. I mean, what does it matter anyway – the body will always keep this pH right? So why bother eating healthy.
I hope this all makes sense. I’ve tried to keep it in as simple terms as possible, but as ever, if you have any questions at all you can ask them below!
2. Everyone KNOWS lemons are acidic. Why do you recommend them?
This is a quite common question, so I’m getting quite good at answering it in a nice and simple way!
It is basically about what effect the food has on the body once consumed rather than it’s acidity or alkalinity in its natural state. Lemons, while containing citric acid have a very high content of the strongly alkaline minerals potassium, magnesium and sodium. These minerals have a very alkalising effect on the body.
The reason this doesn’t work with oranges is because the sugar content of the orange is so high that cancels out the alkalising minerals and leads it to have a very acidifying effect on the body. That is the same for almost all fruits (unfortunately).
Which brings us onto…
3. Can I eat fruit?
Unfortunately, the answer to this one is, generally, yes (a little) and no…
Certainly don’t think of fruit the way most people do…
Fruits should be treated as a treat, or ’emergency food’.
Better than a chocolate bar, yes, but the sugar content of fruit makes it actually quite acidifying.
You really need to avoid all sugar as much as possible, whether it is fructose, sucrose, glucose (anything ending in -ose).
They all have the same effect on the body – sugar is sugar is sugar, no matter where you get it from and a lot of fruit is absolutely packed with it.
While I understand that fruit also contains fibre, vitamins, phytonutrients etc. the sheer amount of sugar that fruit contains means that this not a worthwhile trade off.
If you want to consume fruits, try to keep it to one piece of in-season fruit per day and try to consume it with a little healthy fat and fibre at the same time, as this will balance your blood-sugar when you consume the fructose (as much as possible).
The Problem with Sugar (and a quick crash course on why an acidic lifestyle is so bad)
In the same way that our body will do whatever it has to in order to maintain a temperature of 37 degrees, it will go to similar lengths to maintain a pH level of 7.365 for our internal cells, particularly the blood.
The modern Western diet of meats, dairy, fizzy drinks, chips, chocolate, candy, alcohol, coffee, pizza, pasta, bread etc has a massively acidic effect on the body. Such an acidic lifestyle puts incredible stress and strain on the body as it has to constantly fire-fight to keep this pH level of 7.365.
This not only takes up a MASSIVE amount of our energy (remember how you feel after Christmas dinner or a huge takeaway meal?) but it also uses up the alkaline minerals (buffers) in our body including calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium. This in turn leads to so many health issues it is unreal.
These acid-forming foods and drinks also lead to the creation of yeasts, bacteria and mold in our blood. In addition, the acids that are created and consumed in our modern lifestyle also ferment the blood and create harmful by-products, toxins and alcohols, which then further destroy our internal environment.
With more acid, more toxins are created, the pH is lowered, the bacteria and yeast grows, becomes mold, and a vicious cycle begins.
And what’s more – these harmful bacteria, yeast and mold actually feed off the nutrients you consume! But that is not all! The waste products they leave behind also act as their food, meaning that rapid multiplication takes place!
So when we consume sugar it sends our body into turmoil. Consuming sugar is like throwing petrol onto a fire. It rapidly fuels this cycle, compounding the problem and placing an insane amount of stress on the body.
I’ve written about this before and a number of questions and concerns often arise, but the question that comes up most frequently is this:
But sugar from fruit is different isn’t it? Fructose is ok, right?
Nope. Sugar is sugar is sugar. It doesn’t matter where it comes from, it still wreaks havoc with the acid/alkaline balance of the body. Whether it is from fructose, sucrose, an apple, honey or a piece of chocolate cake, the sugar still has the same devastating effect. How quickly or slowly the body metabolises different sugars may have an effect on your energy levels (in terms of how quickly the peaks and troughs will follow one another) but makes no difference to the fact that the sugar ferments and fuels these harmful microforms in exactly the same way.
So stop eating fruit! It is plain to see that sugar is incredibly harmful, and fruit is packed full of it. And as for fruit juice? Fresh or not, fruit juice is simply highly concentrated fruit! But without the fibre! It is the same problem multiplied by twenty. DO NOT DRINK FRUIT JUICE!
Sure, if it is the choice between an apple and a Mars bar then go for the apple, because you’re at least getting some goodness. But better still, give yourself better choices so you don’t have to go for the lesser of two evils! (wow, five years ago I never would have thought I would be calling fruit ‘evil’!)
Is any fruit OK?
Yes! There are a handful of low-sugar fruits that are great for you! Tomato, avocado, lemon, lime and grapefruit are all alkalising and full of goodness. And before anyone asks about how lemons and limes can be alkalising – the answer is simple: it is the effect the food has on the body, not whether it is acid or alkaline in it’s natural state. The reason lemons and limes have an alkalising effect is because they are not only high water content and low sugar content, but they also contain high amounts of alkaline minerals (potassium in particular).
I hope this makes sense.
3. Why are the lists of alkaline/acid foods different?
I know it is quite confusing to see such differences in the charts. This amount of conflicting information is the main reason I set up Live Energized (previously Energise for Life) and I believe our chart (based on the research of the Alkaline Diet pioneer, Robert Young) is the most accurate.
The reason that other charts show such disparity is because they base their classifications on the readings for the Potential Renal Acid Load research (PRAL). This is not an accurate source for this purpose. The reason for this is, to test for PRAL they basically burn the food at an extreme temperature and then take a read of the ‘ash’ that is left behind and what it’s pH is.
While this does give a read of its alkalinity from the mineral content of the food, this is only half the picture. By burning it at such a high temperature they also burn away all of the most acid-causing content of the food, namely sugar. That is why on some charts high sugar fruits are listed as alkaline. Bananas for instance are high in the alkaline mineral potassium, BUT they are also 25% sugar which makes them extremely acidifying when we consume them.
Dr Young has also tested the blood (through live blood analysis) of over 40,000 people and has seen first hand the effect different foods have on the body. So his classification of acid/alkaline foods is really the most accurate and the most relevant to the effect foods have on our pH levels.
Resource Box: Mercola’s Article on Fruit – including fructose chart for each fruit | The ‘I Quit Sugar’ Guide to Fruit Consumption | Measured & Scientific Approach to Fructose from AuthorityNutrition
4. Which green drink (powdered green supplement) is best?
Ahhh, an interesting question that I get asked ALL the time.
Here is my honest, and official, answer:
Firstly, there are a few checks you need to make before you narrow down your shortlist:
- Is the green drink sugar-free? There are so many supposed green drinks out there (especially available on the high street) that quite foolishly contain sugar and sweeteners. What is the point in that?! Look out for carob & stevia in particular. Remember it takes 20 parts alkaline to neutralise 1 part acid, so if your greens contains sugar then you are going to end up with pH neutral at best…making your green drink expensively pointless.
- Is the green drink yeast, fungi and algae-free? Many greens also contain yeast, mushroom extracts and algae’s which I personally don’t recommend and know Dr Young has proven to be highly acidifying.
After that, I’d say the decision is down to taste and personal preference.
I personally use Dr Young’s Doc Broc Greens and here are my reasons:
- This is a 4th generation green drink. Dr Young is the pioneer of these products and it was he who created SuperGreens for Innerlight several years ago. While I do like the SuperGreens taste and used to use it a lot, the formulation and production method has not changed since it was created, whereas with Doc Broc, it is created with the benefit of all of Dr Young’s experience during this time.
- The blend of ingredients he uses is second to none. Everyone has pretty much copied his old Innerlight formulation (note how they all taste similar?) but he has upped the ante by including even more alkaline forming ingredients such as avocado, lemon and lime.
- I just love the taste.
So in my opinion, Doc Broc is the best green drink on the market, but there are a few close runners:
- MegaGreens: A nice, fresh tasting blend made from organic New Zealand grasses
- pH Ion Green: Slightly sweeter tasting, but does contain spirulina, so I use sparingly. A lot of our customers LOVE the taste of this one
- Tony Robbins Pure Energy Greens: a very different tasting green drink, but very effective
- SuperGreens: and of course, the classic. Still packs a punch.
5. Which supplements do you recommend?
This really is down to your own personal nutritional requirement, and I would always recommend speaking to a qualified nutritionist before making any major dietary changes – but in my personal opinion and from the feedback from my customers I recommend the following four supplements as a solid cornerstone to any nutritional regime:
Ross’s Supplement Suggestions
- Green Drink: highly alkalising, highly nutrient dense and unbelievably good for you, green drinks are a must have for me. I can almost guarantee that if you start having four green drinks per day then you will almost instantly start seeing the benefits. A rich source of chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients – the greens infuse your body with highly alkaline ingredient to cleanse, neutralise acids and give your body a huge energy boost.
- An Anti-Inflammatory: my experience has shown that reaching optimal health is a combination of an alkaline, antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle, and it is always very important to have a safety net for each of these three. The green drink & salts (see below) are highly alkaline, the greens are antioxidant-rich, and the supplement I’m about to mention + the oils are anti-inflammatory…
And this supplement is curcurmin. This most often comes in the form of a turmeric-based supplement (some can also contain ginger, and piperine, a compound from black pepper that assists with the bioavailability of curcurmin).
From my research and personal experience, the most beneficial form of curcurmin supplement is curcurmin phytosome.
There has been endless research on curcurmin and it’s benefits – more so than any other natural compound.
- Omega & Coconut Oils: For optimal health, energy and wellness I strongly urge you to give some focus to the omega 3 and coconut oil that you consume. Here is a rundown of the basic facts of each to get you started!
- Omega 3: The important omega 3’s are ALA, EPA and DHA. The human body cannot make omega 3 on its own so it is essential that we supplement our diets. Omega 3 is also the fat that we are most deficient in. Experts suggest that we need between 20-40ml of omega 3 per day to function optimally. To get this through diet alone is difficult, even if we eat oily fish and nuts every single day. Especially as a lot of the foods (fish & meat included) are farmed in a way that makes them less nutritious than in days gone by.
- Medium Chain Tryglycerides (MCT) from Coconut Oil: MCT are hard to come by, and almost all other oils we consume are long chain. We specify coconut oil because it is almost always organic, is incredibly resistant to heat, light and air (unlike all other oils) so it can be cooked with and still healthy, and because it tastes great! Yes, it is a saturated fat – but the myth that saturated fats are bad for us has been completely dismissed, and in fact, saturated fats are so GOOD for you!
These Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are called essential because the body absolutely requires them to function, yet it cannot manufacture them itself. It relies upon us to consume these fats, namely omega 3 and omega 6. These fats are so important that even if we eliminated the bad fats from our diets completely, we would still, eventually, die if we did not ingest any of these EFAs. We simply cannot live without these fats!
Do you, or have you ever suffered from any of the following:
* Dry skin, acne or skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis or rosecea
* Weight gain
* Low energy levels
* Brittle hair and hair loss
* Poor nail growth
* Deterioration of liver and kidneys
* Inability to sleep
* Low immune system
* Digestion problems, inflammation, bloating
* Low libido
* Tingling in arms and legs
These are just a few of the symptoms of omega 3 and 6 deficiency. And these symptoms show up fast!
- Alkaline Minerals: the biggest determinant of whether a food is alkaline forming is it’s alkaline mineral content. Minerals such as sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, manganese, zinc and so on.
And the four most alkaline forming are those first four: sodium, magnesium, potassium and calcium.
I highly recommend you find a high quality supplement (or supplementS) that contain these minerals, preferably in a bicarbonate format.
The volume of research on the benefits of sodium bicarbonate is huge. This is unquestionable.
I am also hugely a fan of having a daily dose of magnesium. In our discussions and interviews with nutritionist and oncologist Dr Erin Leigh Connealy – she found the common thread that ran through all of her patience, with a wide range of conditions was magnesium deficiency.
Here’s my good friend Dr Josh Axe discussing magnesium deficiency:
Potassium is also a no-brainer. The ratio of potassium to sodium is so important and has become so out of balance in our modern diet. The problem is not sodium at all, it’s that:
a) most people are eating a lot of the refined, processed, health-less sodium chloride (regular table salt) instead of mineral-rich Himalayan/Celtic style natural salt
b) most people are just not eating enough potassium, which is putting the ratio out of whack.
Lowering your healthy sodium too much also creates risks of it’s own. You need sodium – it’s a vital alkaline mineral. But you’ve gotta get the potassium in too!
7. Where do I get protein from?
That is a very, very valid question – but I think it is in the wrong context…but I’ll get onto that. The first question you need to ask yourself is ‘How Much Protein Do I Need?’. Difficult question. Robert Young (pH Miracle) states that the average person needs no more than 20g per day, but this obviously changes if you work out or lead a very active life. I personally aim for around 50g-100g depending on my level of workout/exercise, but certainly nowhere near the heights of some trainers who propose you should have at least 2g’s per kg of body weight.
I suggest you find your own level that you are happy with, within this range (of 20-100g) and then consider where you will get your protein from. When most people ask this about the alkaline diet it is more out of fear that they are not going to get enough – but the more pertinent question is – what is your source of protein i.e. make sure it is a good source!
On an alkaline diet, without any further supplementation I consume at least 50g-60g of protein a day, which is more than enough for the body to function, grow and develop. This level often tops 80g with the introduction of protein-rich foods such as chickpeas, quinoa, chia, greens, lentils, nuts, seeds and so on.
I also supplement with an organic sprouted brown rice protein at the moment because I’m hitting the crossfit and running pretty hard, but this isn’t essential if you’re not working out or in a training phase at the moment.
Food Sources of Protein on the Alkaline Diet – but to answer your original question, when you’re living alkaline you get more than enough protein from sources such as:
As you can see, you’ll have no problem…
And when I modelled a selection of days of eating alkaline from my Alkaline Diet Recipe Book, it reached 86g protein on average.
(Note: remember, there are risks to consuming too much protein too!)
8. Will I lose weight (OR can I gain weight?)
The body is alkaline by design and one of the most common symptoms of being over-acid is weight gain.
When you’re over acid your body both hang onto fat to protect your major organs, and is also unable to process the excess fat from the acids you consume. When you start to alkalise you quickly shred through this fat. Bulges and cellulite disappear pretty darn quick.
There is some complex science behind this, but if you consider that on a daily basis you are going to be consuming loads of fresh, raw salads, vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy fats etc. and be totally hydrated, while at the same time consuming zero sugar, trans-fats, chocolate, crisps, sweets, alcohol etc. it is pretty clear to see that you’re not going to have to worry about weight for too much longer.
The same goes for being under-weight. Being under-weight is an acid problem too. Your clogged, over acidic digestive system is preventing your body from being able to absorb the nutrients you do consume, and so you’re left skinny and weak. Once you start to alkalise you will find yourself filling out in all the right places and gaining muscle mass.
Resource Box: How to Maintain or Gain Weight on the Alkaline Diet
9. How do I test my pH – why are my readings erratic?
Testing your pH is a great way of tracking your progress. But it has to be done right. Here is how:
It is good practice to either test 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating. If testing your saliva, it is a good idea to try to fill your mouth with saliva and then swallow. This helps remove any acidic bacteria that might be lurking. Do not try to wash your mouth out with anything else as this will simply record the alkalinity of the water/liquid you have just used.
For testing urine, let some urine flow before testing as this will give more of an average reading.
It is also a good idea to test 2-3 times in a day in order to get an average, as first thing in the morning the body has retained fluids over a long period of time and it will engage in different processes to remove acid wastes from the body throughout the day (depending on activity and diet).
Why the Differences and Fluctuations?
The reason that there is such a difference between your urine and saliva readings is that a) your mouth is more likely to contain acidic bacteria throughout the day (if you brush your teeth it will show a very high alkaline reading due to the toothpaste so there is not much of a way around this) and b) because your urine is more of a reflection of the processes the body is undertaking to remove acid from the body.
Both of these are therefore subject to fluctuations. I would recommend taking the average of several readings to gain a bigger picture of your progress rather than concentrating on each reading in isolation.
A reading of anywhere between 6.75-7.0+ is excellent for saliva as the saliva tends to be slightly more acidic. For the urine, a slightly higher pH level of 7.5 upwards is great, but remember that due to the kidneyâ€™s processing of toxins throughout the day, the urine can give a more erratic reading.
To put all of this into perspective, someone who eats a typical Western diet would be more likely to have a saliva pH average of about 5.5-6.0. This may not seem too much lower, however it is important to remember that the pH scale is logarithmic – meaning each step is ten times the previous i.e. 4.5 is 10 times more acidic than 5.5 which is 100 times more acidic than 6.5 and so on.
Testing the pH of your saliva or urine is only going to give you a general trend. Unfortunately, there is no way of determining the EXACT pH of the blood without undergoing a live blood analysis. However, they can give a good indication – so test, test, test and take the average and then follow this trend over time noticing the difference any changes in your diet can make.
10: Which vegetables are the most alkalising?
Not really something you need to worry too much about, but if you do need to know – I believe it is a toss-up between wheatgrass and cucumber. But basically here is my quick and dirty list of the foods to aim for if you want to be super-alkalising:
Green grasses – such as wheatgrass & barley grass
Green leafy veg – such as spinach, rocket & watercress
Any other salad, vegetable or high-water content, low sugar food!
Just think big bowls of salad and big plates of veggies!
Bonus 1: Can I become too alkaline?
Because I’m nice, and I couldn’t work out which question to drop to make this list a top 10 (top 11 didn’t have the same ring) I’m giving you this bonus answer. It is one we get asked quite often and it does have a simple-ish answer, so here goes.
Basically, yes, you can become over-alkaline, of course. This is very, very difficult to achieve! Your body is constantly creating acids in it’s daily workings, which is why we need to focus on eating 80/20 alkaline foods to help to neutralise these acids. We obviously make things worse by eating and drinking acvid too.
But if we did manage to eat SO alkaline that your cells and body fluids went above 7.365 then your body would simply buffer this to regulate you back down to the correct pH. The effect on your body would be similar to that if you were too acid. And given that 99% of us are too acid 99% of the time (yet we are still walking and functioning as humans!) then I don’t think it would have too much of an effect on us. You’d probably feel pretty similar to how you do right now.
Plus it would be pretty short lived as, like I mentioned, the body does create acids all of the time, so you’d soon be neutralised!
Any More Questions?
I really hope this has helped and has given you a good framework and answered some of the questions you might have had. If you do have any other questions – feel free to leave a comment below!
Have a great weekend