Testing Your Diet with Pee & Purple Cabbage

Testing Your Diet with Pee & Purple Cabbage
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Plant-based diets tend to be alkaline-forming. This may help protect muscle mass, and reduce the risk of gout and kidney stones. The pH of one’s urine can be estimated with natural pigments, using kitchen chemistry.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

If our body isn’t buffering the acid formed from our diet with our bones, how is it neutralizing the acid? Maybe, with our muscles! Our blood gets more acidic as we age, as our kidney function declines, and this may be a reason we lose muscle mass as we get older. “The modern Western diet based on animal products generates an acid load [that may cause] a lifespan state of unnoticed and growing metabolic acidosis.” And, this chronic, low-level, diet-dependent metabolic acidosis might contribute to the progressive shrinking of our muscle mass as we age.

See, “[m]uscle wasting appears to be an adaptive response to acidosis.” When our muscles break down, “amino acids are released into the bloodstream.” Our liver can then take these amino acids and make something called glutamine, which our kidneys can use to get rid of the excess acid. And indeed, in this three-year study, those over age 65 eating alkaline diets were better able to preserve their muscle mass, which they think may be because the alkaline-producing fruits and vegetables helped relieve “the mild…acidosis that occurs with the ingestion of [the standard] American diet.” But, show me a study in which fruits and vegetables aren’t associated with health benefits.

So, when the latest review asks, does an alkaline diet benefit health? If you’re asking, does a diet low in meat, eggs, and dairy—all acid-producing—and high in fruits and vegetables, with lots of dark green leafies, well then, of course, the answer is yes. An alkaline diet benefits health.

But, if you’re asking does it matter what the pH of your pee is (whether your urine is acid or alkaline), regardless of what actually goes into your mouth? Then the answer is, actually, still yes, it does matter. But, the accepted benefits of having alkaline urine appear limited to two areas—lower risk of kidney stones, and better uric acid clearance.

We knew about the kidney stones, but the uric acid data is new. Researchers found that alkalization of the urine “is effective for removing uric acid from the body.” And, if you remember, uric acid is bad stuff—potentially increasing one’s risk of fatal stroke, heart disease, and death.

So, those eating plant-based diets are at an advantage. The average vegetarian diet is alkaline- producing, and the average meat-eating diet is acid-producing. Even though there are some acid-producing, acid-forming meat substitutes, like some of the Quorn products, they’re not as bad as something like tuna. And, they’re typically consumed in smaller quantities than meat consumers consume meat. As the protein in plants “is usually accompanied by much more potassium,” which is alkalinizing, “there is good reason to meet protein needs preferably from plant sources.” And, if you actually measure urine pH, those eating strictly plant-based diets have the greatest advantage, significantly more alkaline urine than omnivores.

How can you tell what your urine pH is? Well, you can be all boring, and order some pH paper strips to pee on. Or, you can use what you should have right now in your crisper—a purple cabbage. Everyone should have a red or purple cabbage in their fridge, since it’s one of the best nutrition bangs for our buck. But, you can also do science with it!

You can either boil some until the water turns deep purple, or a quicker, safer way (since you’re not dealing with hot liquids) is to just blend some raw in your blender with some water (for that gorgeous purple), and just strain out the solids. Then, what you do with that royal purple liquid is, you pour it in the toilet bowl after you pee. You can imagine how much fun kids have with this!.

If it stays purple, your urine is acidic, and you should eat more dark green leafy vegetables. If the toilet bowl turns pink, your urine is really acidic, and you should eat more dark green leafy vegetables. You’re looking for blue. If it turns blue, that means your urine is neutral, or even alkaline, if it’s sky blue. And,that means you should continue to eat more dark green leafy vegetables.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Fundamental Photographsdiy.orgwallpapercraze.comListentoreason via flickr, and Biusch via Wikimedia. Thanks to Ellen Reid and Alicia Bittner for their photo wizardry.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

If our body isn’t buffering the acid formed from our diet with our bones, how is it neutralizing the acid? Maybe, with our muscles! Our blood gets more acidic as we age, as our kidney function declines, and this may be a reason we lose muscle mass as we get older. “The modern Western diet based on animal products generates an acid load [that may cause] a lifespan state of unnoticed and growing metabolic acidosis.” And, this chronic, low-level, diet-dependent metabolic acidosis might contribute to the progressive shrinking of our muscle mass as we age.

See, “[m]uscle wasting appears to be an adaptive response to acidosis.” When our muscles break down, “amino acids are released into the bloodstream.” Our liver can then take these amino acids and make something called glutamine, which our kidneys can use to get rid of the excess acid. And indeed, in this three-year study, those over age 65 eating alkaline diets were better able to preserve their muscle mass, which they think may be because the alkaline-producing fruits and vegetables helped relieve “the mild…acidosis that occurs with the ingestion of [the standard] American diet.” But, show me a study in which fruits and vegetables aren’t associated with health benefits.

So, when the latest review asks, does an alkaline diet benefit health? If you’re asking, does a diet low in meat, eggs, and dairy—all acid-producing—and high in fruits and vegetables, with lots of dark green leafies, well then, of course, the answer is yes. An alkaline diet benefits health.

But, if you’re asking does it matter what the pH of your pee is (whether your urine is acid or alkaline), regardless of what actually goes into your mouth? Then the answer is, actually, still yes, it does matter. But, the accepted benefits of having alkaline urine appear limited to two areas—lower risk of kidney stones, and better uric acid clearance.

We knew about the kidney stones, but the uric acid data is new. Researchers found that alkalization of the urine “is effective for removing uric acid from the body.” And, if you remember, uric acid is bad stuff—potentially increasing one’s risk of fatal stroke, heart disease, and death.

So, those eating plant-based diets are at an advantage. The average vegetarian diet is alkaline- producing, and the average meat-eating diet is acid-producing. Even though there are some acid-producing, acid-forming meat substitutes, like some of the Quorn products, they’re not as bad as something like tuna. And, they’re typically consumed in smaller quantities than meat consumers consume meat. As the protein in plants “is usually accompanied by much more potassium,” which is alkalinizing, “there is good reason to meet protein needs preferably from plant sources.” And, if you actually measure urine pH, those eating strictly plant-based diets have the greatest advantage, significantly more alkaline urine than omnivores.

How can you tell what your urine pH is? Well, you can be all boring, and order some pH paper strips to pee on. Or, you can use what you should have right now in your crisper—a purple cabbage. Everyone should have a red or purple cabbage in their fridge, since it’s one of the best nutrition bangs for our buck. But, you can also do science with it!

You can either boil some until the water turns deep purple, or a quicker, safer way (since you’re not dealing with hot liquids) is to just blend some raw in your blender with some water (for that gorgeous purple), and just strain out the solids. Then, what you do with that royal purple liquid is, you pour it in the toilet bowl after you pee. You can imagine how much fun kids have with this!.

If it stays purple, your urine is acidic, and you should eat more dark green leafy vegetables. If the toilet bowl turns pink, your urine is really acidic, and you should eat more dark green leafy vegetables. You’re looking for blue. If it turns blue, that means your urine is neutral, or even alkaline, if it’s sky blue. And,that means you should continue to eat more dark green leafy vegetables.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Fundamental Photographsdiy.orgwallpapercraze.comListentoreason via flickr, and Biusch via Wikimedia. Thanks to Ellen Reid and Alicia Bittner for their photo wizardry.

Doctor's Note

Now, I have a low-flow toilet, so there’s very little water in the bowl to start with. The effect might not be as dramatic if diluted in a larger quantity of water. More bathroom chemistry can be found in Pretty in Pee-nk and Asparagus Pee.

What does acid have to do with bones? You might have missed the prequel to this video, Alkaline Diets, Animal Protein, & Calcium Loss.

How else can we protect our muscles? We can eat healthy enough to avoid statin drugs (see Statin Muscle Toxicity), and the neurotoxins that can cause movement disorders (Muscle Tremors & Diet).

Superfood Bargains is the video in which purple cabbage takes the gold—though it was unseated in Biggest Nutrition Bang for your Buck.

Why do I always go on and on about dark green leafy vegetables? Check out my dozens of videos on greens, and find out!

For more context, check out my associated blog post: Test to See If your Diet is Alkaline- or Acid-Forming.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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