In the average Western diet, many consume foods which are too acidic to effectively promote and maintain a healthy body. Some examples of these acidic sources we consume are refined sugars, dairy products, and meat, such as beef and pork. There are also different side effects that result from a high-acid diet, such asa diminished immune system and lethargy.
A sugar high can feel good every once in a while when eating ice cream, but remember that unless you attempt to alkalize your body, such habits can take their toll on your body, your health and your energy levels. I must admit that despite being a self-appointed champion of healthy eating, I do have my weaknesses! Oh yes! For instance I have a sweet tooth and I must admit that I kind of indulge my sweet tooth far more regularly than I should. However, I always try to counter the effects of my indulgence by doing a few things to ‘penalize’ my weakness. Thankfully, I don’t have a sweet tooth for everything sweet like cakes, doughnuts, ice creams, biscuits etc.
What I do have an irresistible sweet tooth for, is a certain brand of chocolates called Minstrels (a UK brand), some squidgy spongy type gelatin-based sweets called Haribos and my local grocery shop’s own brand sweet and salted popcorn! However much I have tried to ‘cure’ my habit I have so far been unsuccessful and I regularly do indulge myself sometimes with carefree abandon, only to hate myself shortly after. I realize its simply a mind thing but I guess my mind is not quite ready to give up on its sweet fantasies just yet.
If you are reading this and you have a definite idea how to cure me of my sweet tooth even semi-permanently, please let me know. Drop me a line and I would be glad to share your suggestions after I’ve tried it and seen the results. Now, there’s a challenge!
Alkalizing the body is not difficult, but in order to understand the benefits of doing so, one must first understand the definition of alkaline foods, how they work with the body, and which foods in particular will counteract the effects of their acidic counterparts.
What Is Alkaline?
Alkaline is defined as that which has a pH greater than 7. Because the body functions best at a pH level of about 7.4, it is important to consume foods which will bring those levels up to an appropriate level. To explain a bit about pH levels, pH levels refer to the degree of acidity or alkalinity of food or liquid. pH is short for Potential Hydrogen. A pH number measures on a scale of 0 to14, how acidic or alkaline a liquid is. Any number above 7 is considered alkaline while any below 7 is acidic. Water has a pH level of 7 meaning it is neutral. This also means it has the same amount of acids and alkalis, which balance each other out.This is especially crucial when consuming foods which are acidic and which will bring the pH levels lower than they should be. Pure, distilled water sits at almost exactly 7 on the pH scale. Foods with a higher number are alkaline, while anything lower than 7 is considered acidic.
Benefits Of An Alkaline Diet
As a general rule, foods can be classified as either acid-forming or alkaline forming. The human body‘s pH is 7.35, or slightly alkaline. The body is always seeking a state of homeostasis (balance) and it works hard to maintain the healthy neutral alkaline zone.
Now, keep in mind that foods in of themselves cannot change this zone in the body, but, the body does have to work extra hard to compensate for the intake of acid-forming foods that are ingested in excess. This happens because when your diet is highly acidic the body has to leech calcium from the bones, as calcium is an alkalizing mineral. Over time this can lead to bone mineral loss, which, can result in Osteoporosis. This is just one of many effects that an overly acidic diet can have on the body but this is not to sound alarmist as it is never too late to redress eating patterns and habits that can be potentially harmful to health in the long run
Additionally, as a stressor, acidity can lead to inflammation along with increased cortisol levels, and this can impact overall health in the long term.Conversely, those foods that are alkaline forming are typically plant based and highly nutrient dense, and also loaded with antioxidants.
Including a variety of alkaline-forming foods in your diet allows the slowing of leech of calcium from the bones, and this results in improved bone health.These foods also support healthy cell regeneration and fights the effects of free-radicals on the body.
Since it is the pH level of blood which concerns us, putting additional acidic foods into our diets actually works against the human system. When more strain is put on the body to fight sickness and disease, it is no wonder a highly acidic diet might make one feel tired and lethargic.
Benefits Of Alkaline Forming Foods For Athletes And Exercise
There is more goods news and that is the major benefits that alkalizing foods have on athletes and for the human body during exercise in general. A diet high in acid-forming foods results in reduction of muscle efficiency so more energy expenditure is needed for each and every muscle contraction. Now, during a race or intense activity, this means a lot of extra work for the body.
Since alkaline-forming foods greatly reduce inflammation, the muscles work at more functional levels and they also require less force to move. This allows endurance athletes, such as, those who run marathons and participate in triathlons to push harder for longer. For those who do strength training, and bodybuilders, alkalizing foods will allow you to lift heavier weights with less negative stress on the body.
How To Eat An Alkaline Diet
Increasing the alkaline intake does not have to be extraordinarily difficult, and one must not cut acidic foods entirely from his or her diet. It is recommended that your diet consist of around 80% alkaline food sources while acidic foods make up the remaining 20%. This contrasts with the average diet in the West, which often flips that ratio around. There are some changes in the diet which can be made quickly and easily in order to alter your pH level.
Swap Coffee For Green Tea
For example, you might switch from coffee to green tea in order to bring your blood’s pH level higher. Green tea is alkaline while coffee is acidic, so the substitution might make a drastic change especially if you consume coffee quite often. Green tea contains many antioxidants as well. In case you asked, antioxidants help to counteract free radicals in our body systems.
Antioxidants Vs Free Radicals
Antioxidants can be found in vegetables and fresh fruits and are therefore the good guys while free radicals are the bad ones. There are a wide variety of antioxidants that provide great health benefits and I will devote some time to talking about these in the subsequent months ahead. But for now suffice it to know that antioxidants prevent and can even inhibit the proliferation of free radicals (the bad guys) in our bodies and helps to neutralize the effects of free radicals in our blood streams.
Without wanting to sound too scientific, free radicals are occur from normal and essential metabolic processes found within the human body or from external sources such as exposure to various environmental and chemical pollutants, stress, smoking and many other factors. The dangerous thing about these free radicals that occur is that if left unaddressed they can cause a wide range of illnesses and chronic diseases and this is where the power of antioxidants helps to eradicate the effects of free radicals in our system.
Vegetables, vegetables and more vegetables! Always eat your vegetables. The best choice in alkalizing varieties are broccoli, celery, chard greens, collard greens, cucumber, cauliflower, and mushrooms, just to name a few. These foods are alkaline and will not only help reduce stress on the body in fighting acid, but are also highly nutrient dense and plain good for you!
Some of the best fruits are also alkalizing ones, including, melons, lemons, oranges, peaches, pears, apples, bananas, berries, cantaloupe and grapes.
Remember, you do not have to eliminate dairy products, rice, and all protein from animal sources in order to maintain a healthy pH level. However, it might benefit you to substitute your refined sugars with healthy fruits and vegetables more often than not.
Doing that, along with drinking plenty of green tea, will increase pH levels and your chances of finding health-nirvana naturally and easily!
This merely skims the surface on the issue of alkalinity versus acidity and the importance of maintaining good body alkaline levels as opposed to acidic levels. Conventional medicine might disdain claims that disease cannot thrive in an alkaline body environment while it is the opposite with bodies that are highly acidic but it is a widely held belief in the holistic health arena. It is also believed that the aging process is accelerated by free radicals in the body, so there is an incentive to reduce free radical activity in our bodies through good diet, regular exercise and less stress to summaries simply. I hope this helps a bit. Feel free to drop me a line to let me know your thoughts or suggestions.
Always passionate about your health and mine!