How many portions of vegetables should i eat in 2019?

In case you needed another excuse to pile on the broccoli – your risk of dying of anything at all is 42% less likely if you eat over 7+ servings of vegetables each day. 

Vegetables contain plenty of antioxidants and fibre, trace minerals like magnesium and potassium and help regulate blood pressure as a result. In addition to this they are net alkaline forming in the body and this effect may also be part of their ability to be wonderfully protective. Also when you eat lots of vegetables tendency is there’s less room to eat poorer food choices.

ACID ALKALINE BALANCE

This is an area of nutrition, like many, which is not without its controversy. Simply put different foods have net acid or alkaline load on the body, some are pretty neutral. This means they may alter metabolism by either partially increasing net acid load or by making the body slightly more alkaline. The alkaline foods can’t disrupt the careful balance the body has in regulating pH – however they may not tax the buffering systems as aggressively and there may be other good things about this as we read below;

Take home messages from this article: 

  • Eat more vegetables and some fruits (whole) veggies have the edge though
  • Aim for 12 (normally you under shoot so you’ll get to 9)
  • If you can’t eat all 12 of them then consider a supplement or ‘greens powder’
  • Each tablet of Vinitroplus takes 2.5kg of grape skin and 500g of apple skin to make (1 tablet) that’s all of the antioxidants and none of the sugars of 3kg of fruit goodness.
  • Foods are measured in their effect by a useful index called PRAL
  • On average meats and fish score +9 and grains +3 (both are acidic)
  • Vegetables and fruits score -3 (alkaline) for 100g of these foods on average
  • So to keep balanced for every 100g of +9 you need 300g of -3 (make sense)
  • In other words you need 25% protein and 75% plants (not grains) for this to work
  • You can also consider a herbal plant formula such as Metabolic Optimiser

 

A good way to eat more vegetables is to have a soup most days, a large salad in the summer or a stew / casserole in the winter. Snack on veggies where possible and have big plates of steamed or stir fried vegetables alongside whatever main dishes you decide to eat.

Blood has a pH level of 7.4—slightly alkaline. This pH has to be kept almost constant, even minor variations would threaten the body’s functions. The acid alkaline balance has been talked about for as long as I’ve looked at nutrition. Those who theorise against the necessity to worry about this, site the buffering systems in place and the compartmental nature of the body. The body regulates these very carefully even with a net acid or alkaline diet, however at what cost?

On balance it appears enough evidence currently exists to lean towards balancing acidic foods with alkaline foods in general. More recent studies show a clear performance benefit from consuming an alkaline diet leading into a sporting event.  

Note it’s not necessary to avoid acid forming foods, these are necessary to achieve a balanced intake of nutrients. Just to emphasise vegetables and whole fruit to support the bodies buffering systems and perhaps if we focus on these enough we may improve both short term performances and longer term beneficial health outcomes.

An overly acid load on the body has been associated with increased lactic acid levels, impaired recovery, low anabolic hormone production, some studies some bone demineralisation (some don’t) and a host of health problems including faster progression of diabetes.

Note animal protein per se isn’t automatically associated with lower bone mineral density in fact normally it’s the opposite. Sufficient protein is required to form bone which is about 50% protein matrix.

Protein is also high in phosphorus a key bone mineral. Indeed it’s not really meats and fish which are the problem rather the lack of balancing mineral rich plant foods in the right ratios to keep us balanced.

In a 2012 review alkaline emphasis also showed better use of vitamin D, and higher growth hormone levels; 

"Alkaline diets result in a more alkaline urine pH and may result in reduced calcium in the urine, however, as seen in some recent reports, this may not reflect total calcium balance because of other buffers such as phosphate. There is no substantial evidence that this improves bone health or protects from osteoporosis. However, alkaline diets may result in a number of health benefits as outlined below"

  • Increased fruits and vegetables in an alkaline diet would improve the K/Na ratio and may benefit bone health, reduce muscle wasting, as well as mitigate other chronic diseases such as hypertension and strokes.
  • The resultant increase in growth hormone with an alkaline diet may improve many outcomes from cardiovascular health to memory and cognition.
  • An increase in intracellular magnesium, which is required for the function of many enzyme systems, is another added benefit of the alkaline diet. Available magnesium, which is required to activate vitamin D, would result in numerous added benefits in the vitamin D apocrine/exocrine systems.
  • Alkalinity may result in added benefit for some chemotherapeutic agents that require a higher pH.

 

J Environ Public Health. 2012; 2012: 727630.

Published online 2011 October 12. doi:  10.1155/2012/727630

PMCID: PMC3195546

The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Health? 

The most common causes of an overly acidic condition are the over-consumption of fats, proteins, sugars, white flour products and milled white rice.

Eskimos consume a lot of animal foods and have been observed to exhibit a high acid load on the system as indicated by associated increases in excreted urinary acid. They also frequently suffer from bone deminalisation or osteoporosis. They are far less likely to get heart disease, yet do suffer more from stroke.

Generally, alkaline forming foods include: fruits, green vegetables, peas, beans, lentils, spices, herbs and seasonings, seeds, and nuts

Generally, acid forming foods include: meat, nuts, fish, poultry, eggs, grains, and legumes.

TRY TO EAT AS MUCH ALKALINE FOOD AS YOU EAT ACID BY WEIGHT

It’s a good idea to try and consume a neutral intake of acid and alkaline foods. This means if you eat 100g (+9) of steak then you’d need 300g of vegetables (-3). Or at least 100g of spinach which is an amazing -16 on the PRAL score, listed below. 

Some foods taste and are actually acidic in nature like lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Whilst this is confusing these foods actually have a net alkaline effect due to the processes below.

The body has an integrated number of buffering systems to maintain this pH within very narrow boundaries, but the foods we eat can have an impact on these systems. Sulphur-containing amino acids in proteins elevate sulphuric acid levels when broken down. As well as this, drinks containing phosphoric acid can increase the acid status of the body, imposing a Potential Renal Acid Load (PRAL).

However, weaker organic acids like lemon juice or cider vinegar can actually act as a base and when included in the diet also help buffer acid levels. Certain cations, in particular Potassium, can also help readdress the balance by sparing endogenous cations like sodium and associated bicarbonate. Therefore, the pH of the food consumed doesn’t necessarily determine the acid load, as the ability of weaker acids to accept hydrogen ions as well as the influence of other minerals on the body’s endogenous buffering systems can be the determining factor. Sodium Bicarbonate is used by the body to buffer excess acid and is sacrificed from our bones, so balancing the relative intake of charged particles may impact on certain areas of health affected by this buffering process and bicarbonate pool. This has particular implications for bone health.

Note sometimes these charts appear in the email but don’t make it through to your inboxes. Feel free to google PRAL food lists if you can’t see the table below.

Summary Take home messages;

  • Eat more vegetables and some fruits (whole) veggies have the edge though
  • Aim for 12 (normally you under shoot so you’ll get to 9)
  • If you can’t eat all 12 of them then consider a supplement or ‘greens powder’
  • Each tablet of Vinitroplus takes 2.5kg of grape skin and 500g of apple skin to make (1 tablet) that’s all of the antioxidants and none of the sugars of 3kg of fruit goodness.
  • Foods are measured in their effect by a useful index called PRAL
  • On average meats and fish score +9 and grains +3 (both are acidic)
  • Vegetables and fruits score -3 (alkaline) for 100g of these foods on average
  • So to keep balanced for every 100g of +9 you need 300g of -3 (make sense)
  • In other words you need 25% protein and 75% plants (not grains) for this to work
  • You can also consider a herbal plant formula such as Metabolic Optimiser

  

Food Group and Food

PRAL Score

Meat and Meat Products Average

Lean Beef
Chicken
Canned, Corned Beef
Frankfurters
Liver Sausage
Lunch Meat
Lean Pork
Rump Steak
Salami
Turkey Meat
Veal Fillet

9.5

7.8
8.7
13.2
6.7
10.6
10.2
7.9
8.8
11.6
9.9
9.0

Fish Average

Cod Fillet
Haddock
Herring
Trout

7.9

7.1
6.8
7.0
10.8

Milk, Dairy, and Eggs

Milk and non-cheese average
Low protein cheese average
High protein cheese average

Buttermilk
Low Fat Cheddar
Gouda Cheese
Cottage Cheese
Sour Cream
Whole Egg
Egg White
Egg Yolk
Hard Cheese
Ice Cream
Whole milk
Whole Milk Pasteurized
Parmesan Cheese
Processed Cheese
Whole Milk Yogurt w/Fruit
Whole Milk Yogurt Plain

 

1.0
8.0
23.6

0.5
26.4
18.6
8.7
1.2
8.2
1.1
23.4
19.2
0.6
1.1
0.7
34.2
28.7
1.2
1.5

Sugar and Sweets Average

Milk Chocolates
Honey
Cake
Marmalade
White Sugar

4.3

2.4
-0.3
3.7
-1.5
-0.1

Vegetables Average

Asparagus
Broccoli
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Chicory
Cucumber
Eggplant
Leeks
Lettuce
Mushrooms
Onions
Peppers
Potatoes
Radishes
Spinach
Tomato Juice
Tomatoes
Zucchini

-2.8

-0.4
-1.2
-4.9
-4.0
-5.2
-2.0
-0.8
-3.4
-1.8
-2.5
-1.4
-1.5
-1.4
-4.0
-3.7
-14.0
-2.8
-3.1
-2.6

Fruits, Nuts, and Juices Average

Apple Juice
Apples
Apricots
Bananas
Black Currants
Cherries
Grape Juice
Hazelnuts
Kiwi Fruit
Lemon Juice
Orange Juice
Oranges
Peaches
Peanuts
Pears
Pineapple
Raisins
Strawberries
Walnuts
Watermelon

-3.1

-2.2
-2.2
-4.8
-5.5
-6.5
-3.6
-1.0
-2.8
-4.1
-2.5
-2.9
-2.7
-2.4
8.3
-2.9
-2.7
-21.0
-2.2
6.8
-1.9

Grain Products

Bread average
Flour average
Noodles average

Mixed Grain Rye Bread
Rye Bread
Mixed Grain Wheat Bread
Wheat Bread
White Bread
Cornflakes
Rye Crackers
Egg Noodles
Oats
Brown Rice
White Rice
Rye Flour
White Spaghetti
Whole Grain Spaghetti
Wheat Flour

 

3.5
7.0
6.7

4.0
4.1
3.8
1.8
3.7
6.0
3.3
6.4
10.7
12.5
1.7
5.9
6.5
7.3
8.2

Legumes Average

Green Beans
Lentils
Peas

1.2

-3.1
3.5
1.2

Fats and Oils Average

Butter
Margarine
Olive Oil
Sunflower Oil

0

0.6
-0.5
0.0
0.0

Beverages

Alkali rich average
Alkali poor average

Draft Beer
Pale Beer
Stout Beer
Coca-Cola
Cocoa
Coffee
Mineral Water
Red Wine
Tea
White Wine

 

-1.7
0

-0.2
0.9
-0.1
0.4
-0.4
-1.4
-1.8
-2.4
-0.3
-1.2

*This table is adapted from the Remer and Manz study discussed above (1) and each PRAL score is based on a 100g portion of food.

Tags: vegetables

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