Hippocrates once said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
As the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates knew that food was a powerful tool in the fight against the disease. Today’s medical system seems to have forgotten this fundamental wisdom, with nutrition relegated to an afterthought in the treatment of most illnesses.
Chronic kidney disease is a perfect example. When you get your diagnosis, you’ll also get a laundry list of foods to avoid. What you often won’t be told is what to eat to heal your kidneys. Contrary to what you’ve probably been told, this is entirely possible with something called the alkaline diet.
The science behind the alkaline diet
Before we explain what the alkaline diet is, let’s discuss pH. Every single process in your body depends on chemical reactions, which take place in liquid solutions like the blood. The pH of these solutions refers to how acidic or alkaline they are, with 0 being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline.
Your body operates within a very narrow window somewhere in the middle, between around 7.35 and 7.45. Even the tiniest shift outside of this range can disrupt your vital biochemical processes and cause cell and tissue damage.
Your kidneys are critical for regulating pH levels and maintaining the acid-alkaline balance.
One of their roles is to secrete something called a buffer, made from carbonic acid and an alkaline bicarbonate base. When your blood is too acidic, bicarbonate works to increase the pH, and when it’s too alkaline, carbonic acid works to decrease the pH, bringing it back into the safe window.
This system of balance is very effective, but even healthy kidneys have limits to the amount of acidity they can handle. In people with chronic kidney disease, this limit is much lower. When the capability of the kidneys is overwhelmed, the result is chronic metabolic acidosis. This causes an accumulation of acid in the bloodstream and tissues, essentially suffocating the body.
What is the alkaline diet?
Naturopath, nutritionist, and kidney specialist Duncan Capicchiano ND has spent over a decade studying how diet can help to restore kidney health and function in people with chronic kidney disease. Together with his wife Fiona Chin ND – also a naturopath and nutritionist – Duncan has gathered all of this research into The Kidney Disease Solution, a natural program that has helped over 25,000 people to date. A core part of this program is the alkaline diet, by far the most effective nutritional protocol Duncan and Fiona have found to date.
An alkaline diet emphasizes “alkalizing” foods that relieve the burden of acidosis on your kidneys and the rest of your body. Duncan stresses that all cases of kidney diseases are unique and diet is just one (albeit very important) piece of the puzzle. However, he says that by targeting the common denominator – acidity – you can take a significant load off your kidneys in a matter of hours. Not only can this give your kidneys a much-needed opportunity to heal, but it can also benefit a host of other conditions like:
- Cardiovascular damage
- Immune deficiency
- Hormonal imbalances
- Digestive issues
- Muscle and joint pain
- Low energy and chronic fatigue
- Weight gain and obesity
- Premature ageing
This is just a small snapshot of the conditions that an alkaline diet can improve or heal. Imagine being able to set not just your kidneys, but your entire body on the path to healing in just a couple of hours, using what you already have in your pantry. Imagine how much more affordable good health would be when your medicine is the food you’re already buying!
How to eat an alkaline diet
To restore kidney health, Duncan advises starting with a diet consisting of 75% alkaline-forming foods and 25% acid-forming foods (more on those in a moment).
To monitor your pH, Duncan recommends purchasing pH test strips. Also known as litmus or pH paper, these strips change color depending on the acidity or alkalinity of your urine. They’re cheap and easy to use, and they offer valuable feedback about how your body is responding to the diet.
As you follow the diet, test the pH of your urine every morning and keep track of the results. When your pH has stayed in the optimal pH zone of 6.75-7.25 for seven days in a row, it’s time to move to a maintenance diet.
At the maintenance stage, adjust your diet to eat 60% alkaline-forming foods and 40% acid-forming foods. This balance will keep you in the perfect pH zone for optimal health and healing.
Which foods are alkaline-forming?
Below are just a few examples of alkaline-forming, acid-forming and neutral foods. You might be surprised to see that some “acidic” foods, like lemon, fall into the alkaline category. That’s because while some foods – lemon included -- are in fact acidic, they have an alkalizing effect in the body. On the other hand, acid-forming foods like meat are actually alkaline before cooking. For the purposes of the alkaline diet, foods are defined by the effect they have once inside your body.
Alkaline-forming foods include:
- All vegetables (except potatoes)
- All fruits (except plum, dates/figs, cranberries, prunes, and other dried fruits)
- Flax, pumpkin, squash, sunflower and sprouted seeds
- Fermented tempeh
- Fermented tofu
- Apple cider vinegar
- Green juices
- Veggie juices
- Green and herbal teas
- Wild rice
Acid-forming foods include:
- All fats and oils (except sunflower)
- Cranberries, prunes, and other dried fruits
- Rice, barley, corn, wheat, spelt, and rye
- All animal proteins
- All beans and legumes
- White pasta
- Cheese, milk, yoghurt, and butter
- Cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, pecans, and walnuts
- Alternative milk like soy and almond
Neutral foods will not change your pH and can be eaten freely on an alkaline diet. These include:
- Sunflower oil
- Dates/figs and plums
- Organic milk and raw goats’ milk
- Unsalted butter
- Soft-cooked eggs
- Oats, brown rice and buckwheat
Is the alkaline diet suitable for everyone?
The alkaline diet as described in this article can be eaten freely by anyone with stage 1-3 kidney disease. If you suffer from stage 4 or 5 kidney disease, you can still eat an alkaline diet, but there are some important considerations you must keep in mind.
You may have been told by your doctor or dietitian to cut out high-potassium foods, which include most fruits and vegetables. While it’s very important to follow this advice and keep potassium low, Duncan explains to his clients that they can still eat a small number of fruits and vegetables as part of the alkaline diet. He recommends moderation, and he offers the following trick for “leaching” potassium from your veggies:
- Peel the vegetables, chop into small pieces, and place in a large pot of water.
- Place the pot in the refrigerator for at least four hours, ideally overnight.
- After soaking, rinse the vegetables with fresh water and enjoy.
How can I find out more about the alkaline diet?
The alkaline diet is an incredibly effective nutritional protocol for healing kidney disease and chronic illness, but there’s much more than we can cover in just one article! In Duncan and Fiona’s Kidney Health Solution, they cover the alkaline diet in much more depth, showing you exactly how to change your diet for health and healing.
The Kidney Disease Solution is a holistic, whole-body healing program, so it also covers essential subjects like:
- Nutritional requirements and recipes for kidney health
- Proven herbal remedies and supplements
- Advice on diabetes, hypertension, and other related illnesses
- The mechanics of kidney disease
- Mental health and wellbeing guidance
You’ll also gain access to:
- A step-by-step natural treatment plan to improve kidney function and health
- A kidney repair “toolkit” combining ancient remedies and modern scientific approaches
- Comprehensive kidney nutrition and diet plan, including a cookbook
- Carefully designed yoga video for kidney health & energy
- Breakdowns of news and research
- Free lifetime program updates in line with the latest kidney research
- Free lifetime email support from a team of kidney health experts (qualified naturopaths)
So far, Duncan and Fiona have helped over 25,000 people to heal and rediscover their vitality with the Kidney Health Solution program. If you want to join them, head over to the Kidney Disease Solution now.