Q:I hear that alkaline foods are better than acidic foods. Is this true? If so, what foods are the best to achieve the right balance?
Americans eat a great deal of acidic foods in the form of grains and meats. Eating more fruits and vegetables can help increase the levels of alkaline in your body. Some benefits include a decreased risk of chronic disease and preserving muscle mass. According to a 2008 synopsis of a USDA Agricultural Research Service study, alkaline foods prevent muscle loss, which is a particular problem with aging. Preserving muscle mass is key to keeping the metabolism high as you age. The more muscle mass you have on your body, the higher your metabolism will be. Balancing a diet that contains acidic foods with alkaline ones can benefit your health greatly.
According to Web Md, inactive people lose as much as 3-5% of muscle mass per decade. That muscle loss contributes greatly to the drop in metabolism and subsequent weight gain. Weight training and eating protein are definitely steps that we can take, but we can also add to the benefit by eating a high alkaline diet (more fruits and vegetables).
There is a great book on Amazon called The Paleo Diet. This book beautifully explains what our typical American diet does to our bodies and how eating more fruits and vegetables can balance out the acidic foods. I do not endorse diets, but this book gives a fantastic explanation of why real, whole foods work best for weight loss, overall health, and disease prevention.
Here is a link to the synopsis article from the USDA: LINK TO USDA ARTICLE
Here is a link to a table that outlines acidic and alkaline foods.
Research is always conflicting, growing, and changing. The overarching fact remains that fruits and vegetables are key to weight control and disease prevention no matter what theory you believe. I would not be overly concerned about the specific alkaline/acid numbers on the chart, but it is an interesting guide to be aware of.
As I will continue to tell you, small changes matter. Keep taking the small steps outlined every week in your articles. Hang in there!