60 Seconds to Slim: The Alkaline Diet

Maintain an alkaline diet to burn fat and stay trim with these tips from “60 Seconds to Slim” author Michelle Schoffro Cook.

| January/February 2015

  • Combat acidity with an alkaline diet.
    Photo by iStock
  • Nearly all vegetables (except white potatoes) are alkalinizing to our bodies.
    Photo by iStock

You may not realize it, but you—and many other humans today—may be coping with a problem not unlike the acid rain problem trees face. You’re probably familiar with acid rain and its ravages. Laden with high nitric and sulfuric acid content from activity such as burning fossil fuels, acid rain has a damaging effect on trees, harming their ability to withstand pests, disease, drought and cold. It may even prevent a plant from reproducing. To combat acidity and stay alive, the tree must pull minerals such as calcium and magnesium from the soil. But over time, the soil can become depleted of these minerals, reducing the tree’s chances of survival.

Modern humans are very much like those trees. When we eat a highly acid-forming diet, it’s comparable to creating acid rain in our bloodstreams. In the same way we’ve polluted our planet, we are unconsciously polluting our bodies, which are basically microcosms of the natural world. The main difference is that we are well aware that we are polluting Mother Earth, but few people recognize that their bodies may be suffering from internal pollution and acid waste. Fewer still recognize that excessive acidity has been linked to weight gain and obesity.

A Balancing Act

Our bodies must maintain an internal balance between acidity on one side of the spectrum and alkalinity on the other. This spectrum is known as the pH scale. Imagine that the pH scale is like a tug-of-war in your body. On one side is the acid team and on the other side is the alkaline team. The middle is neutral, which reads 7.0 on the scale between 0 (extremely acidic) and 14.0 (extremely alkaline). Much of what we eat and our lifestyle choices can tip the balance in favor of acidity and also contribute to our weight. Yet our blood needs to remain stable at about 7.365 (slightly alkaline) to maintain health.

The body has mechanisms in place to ensure that the blood, which feeds our brain and all our organs, glands and tissues, remains slightly alkaline. The body, in its infinite wisdom, has many ways to deal with acidity; one of the ways we’re concerned with is the tendency to store acid in fat cells to get it out of the blood quickly. Fat cells are our bodies’ buffer against acid as they have a natural affinity for acidic toxins and the acidic byproducts of metabolism. Fat is actually our bodies’ ally against acidic food choices (although I know more than a few people will find it hard to believe that fat is helpful to the body).

As an example, let’s look at one of the most acid-forming foods we eat: sugar. When we eat sugar, it breaks down into lactic acid in our bodies. In an effort to combat the acidity, our bodies go into preservation mode and use the fat in our diets and in our bodies to buffer and neutralize the acid. Our bodies then attempt to eliminate the fat, but if this is not possible, they will store it as fat deposits to keep the acid out of the bloodstream and away from organs, where it can do damage.

Kick the Acid Out

Our biggest battle in overcoming acidity is our addiction to what I call the “standard American diet.” (Think sugary foods, processed foods, meat, dairy, juices and soda.) Our second biggest battle, and one that goes hand in hand with our eating habits, is the stressful lifestyles many of us feel we cannot control. Poor food choices and stress push us toward the acidic side of the pH spectrum, causing our bodies to expend their resources on managing continuous—or chronic—acidity. (This imbalance isn’t the same thing as metabolic acidosis, a serious condition that can occur in relation to a pre-existing disease and that requires hospitalization and medical treatment.)

1/6/2015 2:29:56 PM

Nonsense. I remember this being debunked back in the 1960s.

1/6/2015 9:40:05 AM

You spoke of foods that neutralize the acid in our bodies such as lemons etc. but you never mentioned apple cider vinigar or any vinigar at all, why? Also if you consume these acid type foods that you mentioned frequently, are you saying that they will eliminate stored fat in the body? So you don't really have to stop comsuming, say sugar in your coffee, you just have to neutralize it with acidic foods. And if so how much on average should you consume these daily? Thanks, Paula, Louisiana

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