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An alkaline diet: Hype or healthy?

Some celebrities and fitness experts tout the weight loss and health benefits of following an alkaline diet. According to some it can prevent everything from cancer to arthritis, plus help you lose weight. But, does the hype hold up? Does it really matter whether you're eating too many acidic foods and not enough alkaline-rich choices?

pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of our body's fluids and tissues. It's measured on a scale from 0 to 14. The more acidic the lower its pH. The more alkaline, the higher the pH. A pH of around 7 is considered neutral. Your blood is slightly alkaline, with a pH between 7.35 and 7.45. Your stomach is very acidic, with a pH of 3.5 or below, so it can break down food. And your urine changes, depending on what you eat—that's how your body keeps the level in your blood steady.

Following an alkaline diet might help with weight loss, however, it can be challenging because of the number of foods you must avoid, including caffeine, alcohol, dairy, gluten and refined sugar. Foods that are more acidic tend to be those we already know are bad for us, such as heavily processed foods, dairy, refined sugars, meats and wheat. Limiting consumption of acid-forming foods and eating more alkaline-forming foods can protect your body from obesity by decreasing leptin levels and inflammation, which affects your hunger and fat-burning abilities.

In contrast, foods that are high in alkaline are many of the fruits, vegetables and herbs we already know are healthy for us. Most healthy diet plans call for eating a balance of whole, fresh foods with regular exercise. One of the anti-aging effects of an alkaline diet is that it decreases inflammation and causes an increase in growth hormone production. This has been shown to improve cardiovascular health and offer protection against common problems like high cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure), kidney stones, stroke and even memory loss.

Consult your doctor or a nutritionist before beginning any diet plan, including this one. 

High alkaline fruits

avocado
bananas
cherries
coconut (water, milk, butter, oil)
dates
figs
grapefruit
lemons
limes
melons—cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon
nectarines
pomegranate
tomatoes

High alkaline vegetables

asparagus
beets
bell peppers
Brussels sprouts
cabbage
cauliflower
celery
cucumber
eggplant
jicama
kale
lettuces
mushrooms
spinach
squashes, including pumpkin
sweet potatoes

Soy, tofu, some nuts and seeds, and most herbs and spices, including ginger and garlic, are also alkaline.

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