What is the Alkaline Diet?

Plant Based Alkaline Salad

What is the Alkaline Diet?

The new buzz work among my clients for nutrition is the Alkaline diet. To me it seemed so similar to an anti inflammatory diet. Let’s find out more about how this diet works.

I don’t know any diets that say go out and eat as much packaged food as possible with heaps of red meat and grains. When we break any diet down for better health and weight loss, we usually find the same formula repeated time and time again, but with each diet and research we can have a better understanding of how the body processes food and nutrients. If we choose to eat as much organic fresh fruit, vegetables and good quality plant based fats and proteins with less hormones, byproducts, processing with the best farming and transport practices, we will be healthier and have the ability to live life to the fullest with greater athletic performance and vitality. A good diet for health and nutrition is a good diet for athletic performance.

pH value in foods

Acidic: Meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, grains and alcohol. pH Level 0-7

Neutral: Natural fats, starches, and sugars. pH Level 7

Alkaline: Fruits, nuts, legumes and vegetables. pH 7-14

The alkaline diet is a diet free of processed foods, grains, low in sugar, free of heavy red meat, land animals meat, fish and high in good fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, healthy fats and nuts.

Eating fruits and vegetables that are high in alkaline nutrients like magnesiums, potassium and calcium are also beneficial to our body and will lover our urine pH level.

This is also making sure you are getting the right electrolyte balance in your body too, helping us to look after our heart and muscles health and increase our hydration all while providing the right nutrients for our body. As an athlete is a win, win all round for our muscles and our kidneys. We will have less muscle soreness, be more hydrated and put less stress on our kidneys. This is so important when our organs are being pushed to their limits while racing and training.

The alkaline diet also suggests that we source proteins from vegetarian options, like eating more green beans, beans and legumes or be careful with our food combinations like adding lemon or lime, leafy greens to acidic food like meat, fish and poultry to help neutralise the acids in our body. Adding more leafy greens is better for our body any way and is proven to increase everyday vitality and prevent cancers.

Hang on, we all know lefty greens are alkalising but isn’t lemons acidic?

Lemons, Limes and citrus fruits when enter the body are acidic however when processed in the kidneys with produce an alkaline byproducts in the urine. The pH reading is a good indicator of food acidity level digestion but  the body metabolises foods and changes their acidity in the kidneys. All foods are given another score called a PRAL (potential renal acid load). The higher the score the more acidic it becomes after processing in the kidneys. Foods high in proteins, phosphorus and sulphur are given a positive PRAL score, which is meat and grains. Foods containing potassium, calcium and magnesium are given a negative PRAL score. Lemons are given a score of-2.5. Yes, you guessed it leafy greens are again at the top of the list for the negative PRAL score meaning they are the most healthy for you.

You can alter your pH level in your urine easily but not as readily in your blood as the body needs to be in a neutral pH level of 7.35-7.45 for healthy cell life, regeneration and development. If your blood pH level does change outside of this range then this is called metabolic acidosis or metabolic alkalosis when is extremely dangerous and can be life threatening if left untreated. Lucky, our kidneys do an excellent job at filtering out the excess acids in our body through our urine, hence the reason why the urine can become more acidic a few hours after eating a large meat meal. While your urine will change pH level, the pH level of your blood will remain neutral and consistent.

When we metabolise food an extra ash is produced in the waste that can be acidic. When we burn proteins, this process leaves and acidic ash as a byproduct. If you eat foods which produce an alkaline ash when metabolised then your body will become more alkaline, less inflamed and suffer from less muscle soreness when exercising. As athlete we also produce lactic acid when exercising thus creating a more acid environment in our body. Thus if we eat a alkaline diet we will help provide a buffer for this acid thus be able to perform at a higher intensity for longer.

A great practical tip to food preparation is to always add leafy greens to our meat including fish with lime or lemon juice. This will help uptake the nutritionist from the food as the vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in lemon and lime will help neutralise the acids once processed in the kidneys. So having bowls of leafy greens with your proteins will help with this uptake of alkaline but also provide the iron, b vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium and high in antioxidants that you need to be healthy. I say to my clients to use spinach, coriander or basil as your bowl filler instead of pasta.

If we look at recipes over time it usually always places an alkaline food with an ascorbic acid with a protein and a healthy fat. We’ve been doing this naturally for centuries. The real science and understanding of why we do it is becoming more wildly understood and really put into practice with the benefits to athletic performance in mind and also understanding the realisation that eating this way will reduce our risk of cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis and other diseases in the future. If your body is not fighting inflammation then it will uptake nutrients much faster and with less energy wastage into your system allowing you to refuel, repair and recovery faster.

Another performance tip is a teaspoon of Bicarb Soda in 500ml water drunk 30 minutes before exercise will help provide a lactic acid buffer to our muscles helping to increase our lactic acid threshold thus your athletic performance. I also suggest drinking natural mineral water with bicarbonate and calcium, magnesium and potassium while exercising will also help improve your athletic performance. Look for Italian mineral waters. Note avoid the mineral waters with Sulphur or sulphates in them.

Here is a list of foods and their PRAL Score Remember a Negative Score is an Alkaline Food. Positive Score Acidic Food and Fats are Neutral.

Parsley Dried -108

Parsley Raw-11.12

Coriander Dried Leaf -99.4

Basil Dried  -85

Beetroot Greens -16.7

Basil Raw -10.01

Dill Dried- 75

Seaweed Dried Agar -46.3

Rosemary -16.4

Green Beans -16.7

Lemon Grass (Citronella) -12.9

Spinach -11.8

Kale Raw -8.3

Ginger -7.9

Sweet Potato -5.6

Carrots -5.7

Beetroot Raw -5.4

Pumpkin Raw -5.6

Peppers -5.3

Cabbage -5.0

Celery -5.0

Seaweed Kelp -4.8

Mushrooms Portabella 4.5

Tomatoes -4.1

Cauliflower -4.1

Zucchini -4.1

Potatoes -4.0

Garlic -2.6

Cucumber -2.1

Rasins -21

Figs Raw -4.9

Figs (Dried) -18.1

Plums (Prunes) -13.4

Avocados -8.2

Bananas -6.9

Kiwi Fruit -6.12

Guava -5.6

Oranges -3.6

Mangos -3.0

Lemons -2.3

Lime -2.1

Blueberries -1.0

Beans White -23.2

Lima Beans -18.3

Kidney Beans -8.4

Navy Beans -5.3

Tofu -12.3

Lentils 5.4

Buckwheat Flour -0.5

Quinoa -0.2

Rice 7.5

Sunflower Seeds 12.1

Almonds 2.3

Brazil Nuts 8.1

Cashew 8.9

Pumpkin Seeds -14.3

Pinenuts -8.7

Coconut Water -5.1

Hazelnuts -1.9

Macadamia -1.4

Fish Oil 0

Sunflower Oil 0

Olive Oil 0

Pecans 2.1

Flaxseed 2.1

Pistachio 2.2

Granola Bar 4.7

Walnuts 5.6

Herring 7.0

Red Meat 7.8

Salmon 9.4

Tuna 12.7

Ground Beef 12.5

Chicken 8.7

Eggs Whole 8.2

Egg White 1.1

Egg Yoke 23.3

Parmesan Cheese 34.2

Duck 4.1

Pork 12.4

Sardines 13.5

Mussels 15.3

Prawn 15.5

Tiger Prawn 18.2

Shrimps 7.6

Sole 7.4

Chocolate, Milk 2.4

Bitter Chocolate 0.4

White Sugar -0.1

Brown Sugar -1.2

Honey -0.3

Expresso -2.3

Leavening agents 270

Puddings all flavours except chocolate 85.3

Gelatine Deserts 74.5

Swiss Cheese 74.5

The Above PRAL Measurements Data bases on upon the USDA Data base (rev. 18). 2006

Top 10 Alkaline Diet Tips

  1. It is recommended that 80% of our diet is made up of Alkaline Foods.
  2. Essential Fatty Acids and Amino Acids are important for healthy body and brain function to prevent dementia. You can source Essential Fatty Acids from vegan and non vegan sources. Get educated on essential fatty acids and amino acids.
  3. Eating a diet that is smart and full of all the good healthy fats like avocados, olive oil, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, and all the nutrients that are needed to support healthy cell life and muscle regeneration. They also have a great anti-inflammatory effect.
  4. Avoid grains, dairy and meat in your diet and add in fresh fruit and vegetables whenever you can.
  5. If you can be vegan then fantastic, if you like meat, then look for wild caught small fish as they are low in poisonous heavy metals and  high in omega 3’s like Herrings. Always have your fish with lemon or lime and a lovely bowl of leafy greens and avocados and loads of vegetables.
  6. Always combine your lefty greens with a lemon, lime with your proteins and you will absorbed and process your food in the best possible way to help improve your long term quality of life.
  7. If you are vegan always have your salads combined with Beans with Nuts and seeds, Tofu with Quinoa, Legumes and Buckwheat to ensure you have the building blocks for a complete amino acid profile if you are avoiding acidic grains.
  8. Be smart about your food combinations, remember it is all about balance.
  9. Follow a mainly plant based diet.
  10.  Ensure your salads are full of as much colour as possible to ensure you are getting as many nutrients from your vegetables as possible.
Plant Based Alkaline Salad

Sports Nutrition

Ketosis Fat Bombs a Handy Sports Nutrition Snack

Sports Nutrition

Nutrition can be so confusing. We are told to eat Organic, GF, DF, SF, Sulphate Free, Preservatives Free, Nut, Peanut, Sesame Free, Night Shade Free. HELP! What is there left to eat?

“There is so much good nutrition out there, it just doesn’t come in a packet”.

Good Nutrition comes straight from the farm, sea, garden, as close to the grower as possible and is eaten in the most raw, fresh and clean state possible.

There are aisle and aisles in the supermarket that can be avoided. Even in the “Health Food” section of our local major super markets are not that healthy for us.

I like to give my clients a rule when first changing their diets. That is.

“If it comes in a packet, don’t eat it”.

It is a simple rule. It will save you a heap of money and time shopping too!

If something comes in a packet it usually means that it has been processed and extra unwanted ingredients have been added to the originally nutrient rich healthy food.

Sure there are some things that need to be stored in a packet like Coco Nut Milk, Almond Milk, Flaxseed Oil, Seaweed, Rice Paper Rolls, Rice Noodles, Good Quality Sugar Free Chocolate etc.

Essentially you can live with absolute vitality and bursting energy on fruit and vegetables, fish, oils, fats and nuts.

Okay what shall I buy at the supermarket?

The Dirty Dozen 12

Fruit and Vegetables that Test Positive to Carcinogenic Pesticides by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2017.

The below vegetables should be avoided as much as possible, bought by a trusted organic market or super market or grown in your garden.

  1. Strawberries-Exceed tolerable safe pesticide levels most often when tested. Buy from a trusted organic market.
  2. Spinach-Buy Organic or Grow at Home
  3. Nectarines-Most Stone Fruits are likely to contain pesticides. Peeling is essential.
  4. Apples- Multiple Pesticides Found on Apples. Buy from an Organic Market.
  5. Peaches- Most Stone Fruits are likely to contain pesticides. Peeling is essential.
  6. Pears-Highly Likely to contain pesticides after harvest. Buy from an Organic Market,
  7. Cherries-Are Sprayed 8-10 Times During their Growth Cycle. Best avoid non organic Cherries or purchase from an organic grower.
  8. Grapes-Avoid non organic produce.
  9. Celery-Grow Yourself or purchase organic.
  10. Tomatoes-Wash, Cook and Peel if bought non organic produce. Grown from home or buy organic.
  11. Capsicums-Wash and Peel after Chargrilling. Grow from home or buy organic.
  12. Potatoes-Always wash and peel. Sweet Potato is a better option, always wash and peel sweet potato if no organic produce is available.

Add Chillies to this list too. Lucky Chillies are easy to grow.

The Clean Sixteen

These vegetables are safe to buy non-organic. It is still best to wash and peel if possible.

  1. Sweet Corn – Wash and Peel
  2. Avocados – Peel
  3. Pineapples – Cut and Peel
  4. Cabbage – Wash and Peel.
  5. Onions – Wash and Peel
  6. Frozen Peas
  7. Papayas – Wash and Peel
  8. Asparagus – Wash
  9. Mangos Wash and Peel
  10. Eggplant – Wash
  11. Honeydew Melon – Wash and Peel
  12. Kiwi Fruit – Wash and Peel
  13. Rockmelon – Wash and Peel
  14. Cauliflower – Wash
  15. Grapefruit – Wash and Peel. Like all citrus fruit the pesticides will be in the skin. 
  16. Bananas – Peel
  17. Watermelon – Pesticides don’t work well for Watermelons so they are not heavily sprayed and should be quite safe to eat. Always wash and avoid eating the skin.
  18. Mushrooms – Very little pesticide residue. 
  19. Sweet Potatoes – Wash and Peel
  20. Carrots – Wash and Peel 

Tips To Avoiding Pesticide Contamination

  1. Always wash foods before eating them.
  2. Buy Organic Foods from the Dirty Dozen List
  3. Home Grow Fruit and Vegetables from the Dirty Dozen List.
  4. Try and grow as much as you can in your own garden.

Nuts, Seeds and Legumes

  1. Almonds – Many pesticides are sprayed on almond trees. If you eat almonds daily buy from an organic provider.
  2. Peanuts – Are grown underground and are known to absorb toxins from the soil.
  3. Pecans – Trees are sprayed frequently with pesticides, herbicides and matricides.
  1. Soy Foods – Soy Milk and Tofu are so pressed that few pesticide remain. However Soy Foods increase the risk of hormone sensitive cancers. 
  2. Beans – Dried beans are usually washed, rinsed, soaked and boiled so the pesticides are removed in the processing.
  3. Cashews – Not many pesticides are used in the growing of cashew nuts.
  4. Macadamia Nuts – Few Pesticides are use.
  5. Sesame Seeds – Organic is better, but pesticides are monitor that are found in sesame seeds and oils.

Organic or Non Organic Dairy?

In my meal planners for at Ultra Training Australia for Ultra Trail Athletes who are focused on weight loss, increased vitality, power, endurance and gaining athletic results, are encourage to follow an anti-inflammation diet. I do not include dairy, gluten, peanuts, soy, sulphates, sugar into my meal planners.

Dairy can cause inflammation in the gut of my clients. I notice my clients who give up dairy gain energy, loose weight and lean up . Their intestines are no longer bloated and they are better able to absorb the nutrients from their food. Meaning they have greater vitality and reduction of vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Dairy products are not made for humans they are made for calves. Even calves only drink milk for 2 years before they move onto grass. Milk is designed to put weight on the calf as fast as possible. Its is key to understand that milk or dairy is not designed for humans especially in the qualities available today. Why consume the hormones that are designed to put on weight in a baby animal? This is why I suggest my clients avoid dairy all together, organic and non organic.

Consumption of Dairy has been linked with Prostate, Testicular, Ovarian and Breast Cancer. It is also the biggest producer of methane gases which is extremely bad for the environment.

If we are in need of more calcium, eat more Dark Leafy Greens, Spinach, Broccoli, Figs, Organic Almonds, Kale, Bok Choy, Rocket. Plus these foods are high in cancer fighting nutrients that are not found in dairy products.

Organic or Non Organic Meat and Poultry. 

I have found over the past 9 years of experience in weight loss and running coaching and performance that my clients who are on a mainly plant based diet have more energy and better able to manage their weight than those who eat meat and poultry. I encourage the consumption of fish or to follow a vegan diet.

Meat and Poultry in such high doses that are available to humans on a daily basis is not necessary for a healthy diet. Humans have evolved to eat meat once every 3 weeks as like in the paleo times when the hunt was only practiced every 3-4 weeks.

Red Meat has been associated with heart disease, bowel and colin cancer. The protein is top hard to digest and can lead to bowel and colin cancer.

Poultry has been changed to much from the original “game” birds with breeding over the past 100 years. The chickens are chosen for their size and their breast size. If we eat these animals even if they are from an organic source we are still inducing the hormones from the chicken that has been bread to be the biggest with the biggest breast.

Eggs are picked to be the biggest, they too have grown in size and have altered from their paleo beginnings. They are full of calories and hormones to put weight on a bird as fast as possible, if we want to put on weight and are body builders then eggs and chickens are perfect for building that type of body but if we are looking to obtain a leaner or endurance base body then the avoidance of eggs, chicken and red meat is best.

My clients who cut out all land animals loose more weight and improve their digestion than those who don’t cut out red meat and poultry.

Not only will we help our own bodies we will also reduce the environmental impact of farming meat on the environment.

I offer 2 meal Planners to my Clients a Pescetarian and Vegan Meal Planner.

Eating a rich omega 3, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and there is a third group called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is found in nuts, seeds and beans oils.

Fish is rich in B12, Zinc, Iodine diet is essential to improved brain health, reduction of heart disease, better weight management, reduction of dementia, depression and cognitive decline.

There is no point being skinny now in our prime if when we are in our mid sixties we end up with dementia and our quality of life is destroyed not only for ourselves but for those loved ones around us.

Safe Fish to Eat in Australia

We are so lucky in Australia to have relatively clean fisheries however like else where in the world it is best to consume fish that do not contain high levels of mercury.

Below is the list of Fish that is best avoided;

  1. Swordfish
  2. Shark also known as Flake
  3. Broadbill
  4. Marlin
  5. Orange Roughy also known as Deep Sea Perch
  6. Catfish

Why is Tinned Fish Okay?

Tinned fish is usually smaller and in it’s first year of life meaning that it has not had the chance to consume as many smaller fish contaminated with mercury. This means that the Tuna and Salmon is smaller and safe to eat.

Safe Australian Fish to Eat

  1. Mackerel
  2. Silver Warehouse
  3. Atlantic Salmon
  4. Tinned Salmon and Tuna
  5. Herrings
  6. Sardines
  7. Squid and Octopus
  8. Snapper
  9. Trout
  10. Travelly
  11. Whiting
  12. Anchovies
  13. Bream
  14. Mullet
  15. Garfish

Vegan Sources of Omega 3, B 12 and Essential Fatty Acids

We need to consume fats in our diet because certain types of fats cannot be produced by our bodies we have to consume them. This essential fat is called alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). The essential omega-6 fat is called linoleic acid (LA). Omega-3 and omega-6 fats affect our immune system, brain, nerves and eyes. 

LA Omega 6 Foods

  1. Hemp Seeds
  2. Sunflower Seeds
  3. Walnuts
  4. Pumpkin Seeds
  5. Miso Paste
  6. Tamari

ALA Omega 3 Rich Foods

  1. Chia Seeds – 1 Tablespoon daily
  2. Linseed or Flaxseed – I Tablespoon
  3. Hemp Seeds – 2 Tablespoons
  4. Walnuts – 6 Halves
  5. Rapeseed Oil

What’s really amazing is that your body can make ALA into other Omega 3 Fats including EPA and DHA. However if there is too much LA eaten then your body will not be able to convert enough ALA to EPA and DHA when needed.

Gluten Free, Grain Free or Non Gluten Free?

There is a massive push towards Gluten Free Foods. I am all for Gluten Free Foods however NOT if it means that PROCESSED foods are eaten in place of the wheat, oats, rye, barley.

There is nothing wrong with good old root vegetables. Root vegetables have been given a bad name. The humble white potato has been destroyed by deep frying it in cancer causing omega 6 oils. There is nothing wrong with a white potato mash with olive or Flaxseed oil, garlic and truffle salt. This is what I think of when I think of Gluten Free Carbohydrates to fuel me for a Marathon.

My Meal Planners are all Gluten Free however there is a catch. I do not like the use of substitute Gluten Free foods in the place of wheat, bread, flour etc.

Fruit and Vegetables should be used as carbohydrates and a fuel source instead of using highly processed Gluten Free Products. Just because something is Gluten Free does not mean that it is healthy for you.

Top 10 Gluten Substitutes instead of Gluten Free Think Fruit and Vegetables

  1. Bananas
  2. Organic Potatoes
  3. Sweet Potatoes
  4. Organic Pumpkin
  5. Beetroot
  6. Organic Almond Meal
  7. Flaxseed Meal
  8. LSA Linseed, Sunflower and Almond Meal
  9. Carrots
  10. Mangos

Sugar Verses Fat

We are flying in the face of the highest diabetes and dementia epidemic in human history, Dementia is now been named as Type 3 Diabetes. If there is a time to give up sugar and to increase your good fats now is the time to act.

10 top Tips to Avoiding Diabetes heart Disease, High Blood Pressure and Dementia.

  1. Cut out all sugar from your diet.
  2. Check all the packets of your food and do not eat any product with more than 5g sugar per 100g. Meaning that your food will not contain more than 5% sugar. This is about the amount sugar occurs naturally in nature.
  3. Look for the fat first when you are hungry. You are better off having a desert spoon of macadamia nut butter, avocado rather than a sugar filled chocolate bar.
  4. Eat 90% Cacao Chocolate
  5. Eat Cacao Butter
  6. Add Flaxseed Oil to all your salads, soups etc.
  7. Cook in Coconut Oil
  8. Start your day with Chia Seed Pudding instead of oats. You will get your omega 3 serving at breakfast and set you up for the rest of the day with a beautiful slow burning meal to take you through until lunch.
  9. Eat Avocados
  10. Take 2000mg of L-Carnatine a day to improve your fat metabolism, brain function.

This might all be amazing but what if you have an intolerance or are allergic to a particular type of food?

Everyone’s body, gut genetics and micro biome is different. Some people may be able to tolerate some of the above foods that I have suggested to avoid. It really does depend on your own body and how your gut has developed over time. It can also depend on where you live and where you can safely obtain your food.

To help with your gut health, I suggest that everyone has a good pre-biotic and pro-biotic to help support and heal your gut. New studies have discovered that 80% of serotonin is actually made in your gut not in your brain. Supporting a healthy gut is essential for the treatment of anxiety, depression, Asthma, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and many other diseases. 

As an athlete we use gels, chomps, sports drinks that can be high in sugar, it is a really good practice to support your gut pre and post race to avoid a bad bacteria outbreak in your gut that can lead to gut upset whilst racing of post race blues.

Copyright Michael Leadbetter Photography