Go Alkaline For Your Body’s Batteries
I know that we’re all making the switch to rechargeable batteries for our small electronics, but our bodies need good ol’ alkaline. The alkaline diet is said to be a cure for everything from allergies to cancer, depending on the sufferings of the individual.
However, there’s also massive disagreement as to what constitutes alkalinity and what foods should be on the “safe” list. Let’s look at the theory of alkaline foods, why they help the body heal, and dive into the respective restrictions of the diet.
What Is Alkaline Food?
Alkaline food is simply food that leaves alkaline ash after digestion. Whether a food is acidic or basic when it is eaten, what’s important is what’s left after the digestive system does its job.
The body has an alkaline-base ratio, where the acid creates positively charged ions and the base creates negatively charged ions. The body is entirely capable of maintaining a neutral pH if it gets the proper nutrients.
Alkali is a strong base, which the body needs to counteract all of the lactic acid it produces. This buffers the blood and keeps the system from a sudden basic-to-acidic shift. Low alkali reserves leave the body susceptible to acidosis.
An alkaline system will garner a pH rating of 7.0 or higher. If you recall from high school chemistry, 7.0 on the pH scale is neutral, and that’s the minimum goal for the system. A base is 6.9 or lower, with anything below 3.0 being very bad. 6.8 is often considered the lowest healthy pH for alkaline purposes.
Why Eat Alkaline?
If I had a major or chronic illness, the first thing I’d do is go on a high raw, all alkaline diet. There’s simply no medicine I trust as much as food and my body’s ability to heal itself.
The problem we have is that so much of what we eat creates an acidic environment in the body that we’re susceptible to disease. When this happens, the body is so busy trying to reduce the acid load that it’s less effective in carrying other wastes away, like carbon dioxide.
As the body struggles to restore its pH balance, it will raid the bones and teeth for calcium, since calcium neutralizes the acid roaming in the blood.
Acid needs to be properly disposed of by the bowels, kidneys and lungs. If allowed to go on unchecked, acidity in the system can cause a general feeling of being unwell—as well as some more serious diseases such as cancer. Most pathogens cannot live in the presence of oxygen, and alkaline blood provides much oxygen!
To test your pH, you only need a set of test strips available at your local pharmacy. It’s best to test your urine, as the saliva is naturally more acidic, and changes more easily based on the last thing you had in your mouth. An ideal reading will be between 7.35 and 7.45.
There’s a great deal of controversy surrounding what foods are out, especially in the area of animal products. In fact, the same foods are often on the alkaline list for one book and the acid list for another.
Keeping in mind that most of us are not going to become grain-free vegans, I think a reasonable middle ground is The Wolfe Clinic’s list. Keep in mind that these lists are not about “can have/can’t have,” they’re about maintaining a healthy balance within the body.
Because an alkaline system is affected by more than just the food we eat, it’s also important to remember to keep stress to a minimum, to exercise regularly, and to drink plenty of alkaline water.
On the “kept to a minimim list,” we find breads and pastas, and any other white flour products. Most nuts and all beans would be out. All grains except millet are nixed. Alcohol and caffeine are not encouraged, nor is concentrated sweetener. Chemical sweetener is a “never” for me, as you likely already know.
Milk and dairy aren’t recommended (with the exception of raw, unpasteurized milk), and neither are most meats, fish and shellfish. Concentrated oils are on the “no” list, as well.
Now that I’ve just recommended we cut out most of the things that Americans love to eat, I’ve got to give you a list of the things you should be eating!
Some lists have potatoes in the green-light category with the other nightshades, while others don’t recommend them. If you’re diabetic, please refrain from eating white potatoes. Otherwise, a potato once in a while isn’t horrible. As I don’t love white potatoes, I just choose to spend my calories elsewhere.
Every chart I’ve seen puts sea vegetables on the go-to list, so please eat as many of them as you can! We’ve already discussed why they’re so good for your thyroid and the micronutrients they contain; now they’ll help you maintain an alkaline system, too!
Citrus fruits are a great alkalizer, which is why I start my day with a pint of water with fresh lemon juice. It’s nice to start the day on a positive, basic note. You’re free to enjoy almost all fruits living alkaline, though cranberries are acid-forming. Watermelon is pH neutral, and as such is great for a brief cleanse of three to four days.
For protein, chicken breast, eggs, and yogurt are recommended (all organic, of course). Almonds and chestnuts are a go, so enjoy them! Many seeds are preferred as well, so get your fill of raw sunflower, squash, chia, and flax seeds, as well as all sprouted seeds.
The Importance of Water
Our bodies are 70% water, so it stands to reason that the kind of water we drink would make an enormous difference in our pH balance. We’re looking for water that has a pH of 8 or higher. You can test your water with the same kind of pH strips you’re using to test your urine.
We could never eat enough food to equalize the impact of alkaline water on the body. If you get tired of just plain water, you still have lots of options. Water with citrus fruit juice squeezed in is a great choice. If you’re craving something hot, green or herbal teas are perfect.
Water ionizers are extremely expensive, so please don’t get one unless you have the money to spare and/or see a change in your health from trying it first (my health food store sells alkaline water by the gallon).
That said, an activated charcoal filter may help your water get to a more basic pH, which is the goal. We all know that drinking enough water is important, and if it’s the right kind of the water, it’ll be more beneficial many times over.
The general consensus of alkaline to acid-forming foods is around 80%/20%, with some sites and books recommending 66%/33%. The latter may be easier for people who do not struggle with any particular illness and just want to feel better.
Remember that both are based on the number of calories from any given food rather than the volume of the food. For example, that would mean that if you made a smoothie of all alkaline foods but added 1 tbsp. honey, and the entire smoothie was 300 calories, you’d be at 80% alkalinity.
Give alkaline a try and see if you don’t experience more energy and better health. I’d love to hear about your success!