Since Ancient times effective healers have understood the relationship between a mainly alkaline diet and good health. Patients were put on an 80/20 diet, being 80% alkaline forming foods and 20% acid forming foods. Today this way of food consumption is still advocated to promote a long, healthy life full of vitality.
What is Acidic or Alkaline?
All foods leave a residue after you metabolise them. This residue is either Acidic or Alkaline depending on the type of food you eat. After consuming foods the kidneys identify if the foods are acidic or alkaline, as they are responsible for maintaining a relatively neutral pH in the body. When acid-forming foods lower the body’s pH, the kidneys organise to buffer the acidity. Muscles are broken down to produce ammonia (which is highly alkaline) and the bones release magnesium and calcium to re-establish alkalinity. These minerals and broken down muscle are then excreted in the urine. Due to this function of buffering the acidity, long-term systemic acidity from excessive acid-forming foods leads to thinner bones and lower muscle mass, as well as magnesium and calcium deficiencies that can increase the risk of aging conditions such as heart disease, osteoporosis and arthritis, not to mention early retirement from cycling.
Acid forming foods are also linked to the development of many other conditions/diseases, such as anxiety, neurotransmitter dysfunction gout, reflux and even cancer, to name a few. Foods aren’t the only cause of acid forming. Stress, alcohol, lack of sleep, coffee, and refined sugars all contribute to a acidic pH in our bodies and are toxic to our health.
Alkalizing for Cyclists
Today’s studies have found that long-term sustaining health, as well as improved athletic performance, is obtained if the body is neutral (pH 7.4) or slightly alkaline. The pH falls to be 7.0 after intense exercise in resting muscles, however lactic acid that builds during cycling (by anaerobic glycolysis which uses glucose) reduces the pH to as low as 6.4, making the muscles more acidic, and can result in cramping and fatigue. Both these effects will result by reducing energy available to the cells and secondly by preventing cells from using available energy. A recent study undertaken in athletes found that by consuming an alkalised drink daily reduces the rate of lactic acid accumulation during and after exercise, which enhances muscles recovery and performance during heightened exercise.
Alkaline Your Diet
Fortunately, over-acidity can be reversed and by following a diet with 80% alkaline-forming foods and 20% acid-forming foods is the best way to achieve alkalinity. There are many tables/handouts that outline all foods acid/alkaline balance however below is an indication of acid-forming and alkaline-forming foods to get you started:
|Strong Acids||Mild Acids||Mild Alkaline||Strong Alkaline|
|White Breads/ Flours||Meat / Fish||Fruits||Asparagus/ Spinach/ Kale|
|Alcohol||Legumes||Vegetables||Lemon & Lime Juice|
|Soft Drinks||Nuts||Avocado||Melons & Berries|
Extra Tips for an Alkaline Lifestyle
- You can test your own pH by purchasing pH-testing strips from your local health shop or chemist. Upon waking is the best time to test you pH before consuming any food or beverages. You can also collect a sample of your second urination of the morning and dip the strip into the urine, then compare the colour of the strips to the pH colour chart. You can then retest after a few weeks after adjusting your diet.
- Drink alkaline water that is ionically charged as it neutralises and flushes out the excess acid. You can purchase a filter or buy the bottled alkaline water from your health food store.
- Add green vegetables to every meal or juice
- Add lemon or lime juice to anything and everything
- Reduce stress levels
- Deep breathing, as it converts carbonic acids to carbon dioxide and salts which is therefore alkalizes
- Chew your food well. Salivation contributes to alkalizing foods
- Where possible always eat FRESH foods rather than canned or frozen