Dossier: Healthy eating

Keeping hyperacidity in check with alkaline foods

A poor diet, stress and lack of exercise can lead to hyperacidity in our body. An alkaline diet is a cornerstone of naturopathy. We show you what it involves and when it’s a good idea.

Text: Julia Fischhaber; photo: iStock

Most people in Switzerland are affected by hyperacidity due to the modern lifestyle. There are many reasons for this. A poor diet, stress, dehydration, lack of sleep and either too much or too little exercise can all lead to hyperacidity in our interstitial tissue, which can cause persistent fatigue, skin problems, bad mood, joint pain and headaches.

How do you achieve a good acid/alkaline balance?

“A healthy body generally regulates the acid-alkaline balance itself,” says nutritionist Béatrice Chiari. However, adding even small amounts of alkaline foods can have a positive effect on the body and improve well-being. “It’s important to drink plenty of water, exercise in the fresh air and get enough sleep. But the most efficient way is to eat predominantly alkaline foods that are rich in vital nutrients.”

What is an alkaline diet?

The aim of an alkaline diet is to eat specific alkaline foods in order to maintain the body’s acid-base balance on a day-to-day basis. This, in turn, can improve health, increase bone density and help to prevent illness. The acid-alkaline theory was established back in 1911 by Swedish biochemist Ragnar Berg. He realised that gastric juice and urine are acidic and studied the acidity of different foods and their effect on the human body. His observation: Foods that are alkaline in the body have a positive effect on our acid-base balance.

“The most efficient measure [for an overacidified body] is a diet that is predominantly alkaline and thus rich in vital nutrients.”
Béatrice Chiari, qualified nutritionist (SHS)

Fresh herbs, berries or fish? Alkaline and acid-forming foods

Alkaline foods are rich in essential alkaline minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium, and are important for maintaining the pH balance in our body. The following foods are alkaline:

  • Vegetables and herbs: All vegetables and herbs (except asparagus, onions, garlic, brussel sprouts) are strongly alkaline and rich in nutrients.
  • Citrus fruits: Although citrus fruits like lemons and oranges are acidic, they actually have an alkalising effect on the body when they are metabolised.
  • Berries: blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are strongly alkaline and rich in antioxidants.
  • Seeds and almonds: Seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds and almonds are all highly alkalising and rich in healthy fats and nutrients.

Foods such as fish and meat, most dairy and white flour products, as well as alcohol, coffee and fizzy drinks are acid-forming and should only be consumed in strict moderation. 

Who can eat an alkaline diet?

“A diet with a balance of proteins, fats and carbohydrates and a high proportion of alkaline foods is suitable for all people and good for the body,” says Béatrice Chiari. Switching to this diet can also help you lose weight or reduce heartburn.

“But remember that the body usually maintains the acid/alkaline balance itself, so a strict alkaline diet shouldn’t be followed for longer than two weeks or without consulting an expert,” says Chiari. Doing without protein and fat over a longer period can lead to serious deficiencies and weaken the body. “But especially in the spring, eating an alkaline diet for a week or eating only vegetables on specific days can detoxify the body and recharge energy levels.”

The interviewee

Béatrice Chiari is a qualified nutritionist and an expert in anti-inflammatory nutrition.

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