Although a restriction-based diet, the keto diet has a rather wide range of possibilities regarding the quality of the diet. Some people embark on a ‘macro-only’ approach, ignoring micronutrients and toxins altogether. Others have found a way to integrate not only the proponents of ketosis but also maximize their whole-body health by paying attention to the quality of their diet. Today we explore ways to stay in ketosis whilst promoting alkalinity in the body.
Why pH Levels Matter
The pH levels are a term used in chemistry to describe the acidity level of an aqueous solution on a scale of 0 to 14. Your body’s pH levels play a role in controlling the availability of nutrients, microbial activity, biological functions, and the behavior of chemicals. Since illnesses, diseases, and bad bacteria thrive in an over-acidic environment, consuming an alkaline-promoting diet is crucial to long-term health.1
Is Alkaline Better Than Acidic?
In short, being alkaline is not innately “better” than being acidic because both serve their purpose in the body. The body’s pH levels vary depending on factors like how active you are. The body is more acidic, for example, after a hard workout, when the body naturally goes into a more acidic state to flush the toxins being released. It should, however, return to a baseline (of 7+ urinary pH levels), indicating an overall alkaline state.
Chronically acidic urinary pH levels are associated with various illnesses and diseases, including anxiety, metabolic syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease.2-4 Since a major influence on pH levels is in our control through lifestyle choices, pH can be a great metric to check in with one aspect of your health.
Having an awareness of the fluctuating nature of pH levels but a general baseline of alkalinity can enable you to constantly check in and tailor your lifestyle habits to optimize your pH and health. For example, although many people wake up in an acidic state, this is not the body’s natural morning state. It can be a sign of dehydration or a lack of minerals. By testing your urine pH levels throughout the day, you can start implementing ‘hacks’ and habits to see within 24 hours what kind of shift it has made in your pH.
Measuring your pH
Blood pH actually doesn’t do the trick. Blood pH measures arterial blood pH, which is a finely controlled percentage. On the other hand, urine pH is a much more accurate barometer of the fluctuating alkalinity based on mind, body, and environmental variables.
Using paper testing strips is a very economical way to test regularly, especially as you start out. Understanding how your pH fluctuates throughout the day can help you investigate the impact of various habits and foods on your body’s alkalinity/ acidity balance.
When you start out, opt to test your levels anytime you pee throughout the day. In time, you can test 1-2 a day (morning and perhaps evening) to check in, but by then should have a good grasp on the habits that do and don’t work for your body.
Ideally, you want to wake up with a pH of at least 7 (considered ‘neutral’) and sleep in the alkaline range.5
The beauty of pH testing as a metric for health is that you get direct feedback with urine test strips. You can easily test from home multiple times a day to see what is and isn’t working for you. Luckily, the majority of changes to be made to promote alkalinity are within your control.
Ways to Optimize Alkalinity
1. What You Eat (and What You Eat Ate)
What you eat is one of the major players in determining alkalinity in the body. It can be very easy on a blanket “keto” diet to eat hoards of highly processed high fat, moderate protein meals, with no attention to quality. Keto refers to the macronutrient breakdown of your diet, which does promote alkalinity, but it’s only a small part of the puzzle.6
The macronutrient portion of what you eat to support low inflammation is already built into keto: high fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate intake. The problem with carbs is that when consumed chronically and in high amounts, the body constantly pumps out insulin to reduce insulin sensitivity.7
When we lose our sensitivity to insulin, the body becomes very acidic with poor absorption and storage of glucose (sugar), which leads to a host of problems, including brain fog, weight gain, and various metabolic disorders (like type 2 diabetes).
What you eat also refers to quality, meaning ideally organic, fresh foods. Eating locally sourced organic food is ideal because you know it was most likely harvested at its peak ripeness/ maturity. When foods are flown in or transported from far away, they are often harvested unripe to ripen. This means less nutrient density (and less flavor) for you! Quality is also the link between your food quality and the quality of the diet that your food ate. When it comes to animal products, its imperative to know exactly what kind of lifestyle and diet your food ate, to know if it promotes or robs you of health; pasture-raised animals that lived a life outside of feedlots, in grassy pastures, and fed their natural diet (for example, ruminants should be grass-fed and grass-finished).
Finally, the last piece of what you eat is ensuring the consumption of a high variety of micronutrients. Micronutrients are abundant in high-quality organic food, particularly in vibrantly colored foods. An abundance of greens (especially bitter greens) is a must on any keto diet since they are very low carb yet provide a big micronutrient hit. Eating nose-to-tail regarding animal proteins and fats is also important to provide your body with the full spectrum of amino acids (including collagen and gelatin), and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
2. How You Eat
Eating mindfully plays a big role in how your body assimilates, absorbs, and digests food.5 Mindful eating is done slowly and with presence. Avoid eating on the go, in front of screens, or when angry, sad, or frustrated. To optimize alkalinity, be present with your food, take the time to sit down with your meal (and family or friends!), and treat every meal as an opportunity to check in with gratitude. Make sure to chew your food properly, and if you have major digestion issues or are working on gut health, consider including a digestive aid like an enzyme, HCL, or some ginger.
3. When You Eat
The timing in which you consume food has been demonstrated to be more impactful on health markers than changing diet. The studies refer to intermittent fasting, which is daily eating in a condensed feeding window. At a bare minimum, you want to consume all your food for the day in a 12-hour window (with a 12-hour fasting window), but ideally, you want to be fasting for 18+ hours daily.8
Although the biggest factor is the condensed feeding window, sleep quality may be improved if your last meal of the day is 3+ hours before sleep. When we sleep on a relatively empty stomach, the body can focus on healing instead of digestion.
Longer fasting periods can also profoundly impact improving your alkalinity-boosting markers, including insulin sensitivity and reduced toxic load. Various ways to implement longer fasts include a weekly 24-hour fast, a monthly 5-day caloric restriction (that mimics fasting), or a seasonal 5-day water fast.9-10
Gratitude is the practice of giving thanks and appreciating life. Although this practice may seem trivial to some, it has improved alkalinity and other health markers (including mental health benefits and better digestion).11 One of the easiest ways to boost alkalinity for the whole day is to write in a gratitude journal first thing in the morning. Some people opt for just listing out 3 things they are grateful for, big or small. You can also free-flow write for 5 minutes about what you are grateful for.
5. Relationships/ Community
Community and the quality of your relationships play a big role in quelling inflammation, boosting mood and mental health, and improving the alkalinity levels in your body as a result.12 Feeling seen and supported reduces cortisol levels and inflammation and promotes alkalinity in the body. Our thoughts play a major role in creating or calming inflammation, and community and healthy relationships promote sensations of ease, comfort, support, and love.
Part of this is learning to cultivate self-worth and setting boundaries with people who make us feel small, unworthy, or low. Work on surrounding yourself with people who support and inspire you, value you and offer quality advice when needed. Making new friends can happen at any age by learning to branch out and be vulnerable. Try joining local communities like a religious organization or church, a sports club or hobby group, a tai chi or qi gong community, or a community-centered yoga group.
Finally, it’s impossible to talk about alkalinity without touching on cellular toxicity because even if you’re on the “perfect” diet: a toxic body will promote acidity.13 Toxicity generally builds up over time, with small, insignificant exposures. From toxic building materials and paints to toxic body care and house cleaning products to amalgam (mercury) fillings, herbicides, pesticides, and mold toxicity in the home. Although these exposures don’t instigate instant illness, they continuously add a drop in the bucket until the whole thing overflows.
You might have heard of “alkaline diets” to battle an overall acidic terrain.
Speaking of acid-alkaline balance, most people are MUCH too acidic due to poor dietary choices, alcohol, and stress.
And viruses and harmful bacteria happen to thrive in acidic environments. A more alkaline terrain, on the other hand, may:
- Improve bone health
- Improve muscle wasting
- Alleviate pain
- And more!
But your body may need a little more than a few dietary changes to get back on track. CXAPHA – pH CONTROL is like your body’s chemistry manager. Designed to adjust acid-alkaline levels in the body, this liquid formula is convenient and suitable for anyone with difficulty taking a handful of pills. With a proprietary blend of balancing calcium, potassium, and alkalizing herbs, CXAPHA starts working immediately to stabilize your system and restore your health.
Eating a ketogenic diet paired with an alkaline diet and intermittent fasting can help you naturally manage your body’s hormones to address health issues using the power of ketosis and alkalinity.
- Pizzorno, Joseph. “Acidosis: An Old Idea Validated by New Research.” Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.) vol. 14,1 (2015): 8-12.
- Sandin, Bonifacio, and Paloma Chorot. “Changes in Skin, Salivary, and Urinary PH as Indicators of Anxiety Level in Humans.” Psychophysiology, vol. 22, no. 2, 1985, pp. 226–230., doi:10.1111/j.1469-8986.1985.tb01591.x.
- Maalouf, Naim M., et al. “Low Urine PH: A Novel Feature of the Metabolic Syndrome.” Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, vol. 2, no. 5, 2007, pp. 883–888., doi:10.2215/cjn.00670207.
- Caudarella, R et al. “Renal stone formation in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.” Scanning microscopy vol. 7,1 (1993): 371-9; discussion 379-80.
- Cabeca, Anna. Keto-Green 16: Harness the Combined Fat-Burning Power of Ketogenic Eating the Nourishing Strength of Alkaline Foods for Rapid Weight Loss and Hormone Balance. Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, 2020.
- Axe, Josh. Keto Diet: Your 30-Day Plan to Lose Weight, Balance Hormones, Boost Brain Health, and Reverse Disease. Orion Spring, 2019.
- Reaven, G. M. “Role of Insulin Resistance in Human Disease.” Diabetes, vol. 37, no. 12, 1988, pp. 1595–1607., doi:10.2337/diab.37.12.1595.
- Longo, Valter D, and Satchidananda Panda. “Fasting, Circadian Rhythms, and Time-Restricted Feeding in Healthy Lifespan.” Cell metabolism vol. 23,6 (2016): 1048-1059. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2016.06.001
- Wei, Min, et al. “Fasting-Mimicking Diet and Markers/Risk Factors for Aging, Diabetes, Cancer, and Cardiovascular Disease.” Science Translational Medicine, vol. 9, no. 377, 2017, doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.aai8700.
- Pompa, Daniel. The Cellular Healing Diet. Revelation Health, 2016.
- Moieni, Mona, et al. “Exploring the Role of Gratitude and Support-Giving on Inflammatory Outcomes.” Emotion, vol. 19, no. 6, 2019, pp. 939–949., doi:10.1037/emo0000472.
- S. Leonard Sym, and Miranda L. Ritterman. “FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF SAN FRANCISCOThe Importance of Community DevelopmentFor Health and Well-Being.” Community DevelopmentINVESTMENT REVIEW, pp. 1–13. University of California, Berkeley, www.frbsf.org/community-development/files/syme_ritterman.pdf.
- Parke, D V, and A L Parke. “Chemical-induced inflammation and inflammatory diseases.” International journal of occupational medicine and environmental health vol. 9,3 (1996): 211-7.