The inner workings of your body are beautifully complex, and yet you are designed to function simply and smoothly. For example, your organs naturally work together to respond to exterior influences to maintain interior equilibrium. When maintained properly, your body helps you to live a fuller, more abundant life by serving you as it should: in health, wholeness and comfort.
Unfortunately, in today’s world we are bombarded by processed food, chemicals and unhealthy fats that make it difficult to feed and maintain our bodies well. Many of our meals are centered on acid-forming foods such as white sugar and red meat, creating an environment in the body conducive to disease. There is, however, a nutritional regime that simplifies the overwhelming task of maintaining health in an unhealthy world: the alkaline diet.
The alkaline diet is a set of nutritional guidelines that help your body to support a balanced and healthy environment with foods that are naturally alkalizing, or that have a high pH.
What is the alkaline diet?
In order to explain the alkaline diet, it is important to first address what it does not do. The alkaline diet does not change the pH of your body. Your body is designed to maintain a proper pH balance on its own, but when you fill your body with processed, sugary, acid-forming foods, your body will struggle to maintain that balance, causing stress to your system. Those stress responses are the responses you will avoid by following the alkaline diet.
Starchy, processed food like white bread and cereal, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and red meat can all cause a range of harmful conditions in the body, including chronic inflammation and the creation of excess acid, which are potentially responsible for sicknesses including:
- autoimmune disorders
- low immunity
- skin conditions
- intestinal disorders, including IBS
- heart problems
Inflammation attacking your body
Chronic inflammation is essentially the result of your body attacking itself. An acute inflammatory response is actually a positive thing—for example, when your body responds immediately to a cut in order to localize potential infection. But chronic inflammation is when your body reacts unnecessarily in an ongoing, and potentially very harmful response. Dr. Brent Bauer of Mayo Health Clinic says that inflammation can “play a more puzzling and long-lasting role in the body. Consider the vast array of autoimmune disorders …where the body’s immune system mistakenly initiates an inflammatory response even though there’s no apparent inflammation to fight off.” Chronic inflammation has been shown to play a role in irritable bowel syndrome (including Crohn’s disease and gastritis), asthma, obesity, arthritis, bacterial infection, cancer and even Alzheimer’s.
According to Victoria Drake Ph. D. a researcher at Oregon State, when you eat a diet rich in saturated fat and trans fat, as well as high glycemic-index food (like white bread or pasta), you’re putting your body at a greater risk for inflammation.
Excess acid in your body
Your kidneys and lungs are built to maintain a proper pH balance in your body’s fluids—your blood, for example, should have a pH of around 7.4. However, when your organs are under stress as a result of a poor diet, your body can create too much acid in its fluids, a condition called acidosis. Results can include heart problems, extreme fatigue, respiratory issues and even degeneration of muscle tissue in older adults, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The creation of excess stomach acid can also be harmful. Certain foods- such as pizza, fried food and alcohol- force your stomach to produce more acid to process the food, causing acid reflux and other stress-induced responses.
The alkaline diet helps restore your energy, organ function and all-around health with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory foods, such as dark, leafy greens, low-sugar fruits, vegetables and super-power foods like turmeric. It eliminates foods that can trigger inflammation and the creation of excess acid, such as sugar, processed meats and dairy.
How do you follow the alkaline diet?
In order to properly follow the alkaline diet, eat 80% alkaline foods, including:
- dark, leafy greens (kale, spinach, sprouts)
- avocado and coconut
- all sorts of fresh vegetables, including tomatoes, cucumbers, and beets
- lentils, buckwheat, tofu
- goat and almond milk
…..and 20% mildly acidic foods, such as:
- black beans, chickpeas, and kidney beans
- low-sugar fruits like melon and berries
- pecans, hazelnuts and brazil nuts
- goat cheese
- wild fish (not farmed)
What can’t you eat?
Remove highly acidic foods from your diet, which include: alcohol, coffee, fermented foods (like miso or kombucha), chicken, red meat, pork, shellfish, bread, honey, chocolate, dairy and anything that includes white sugar (such as jam, yogurt and fruit juice). Here’s a link to a complete alkaline vs. acidic food chart.
Hydration + green smoothie
In order to expedite the body’s process of eliminating excess acid and restoring natural balance, drink plenty of water with lemon and start your day with a green smoothie. The following recipe replaces typical high-sugar smoothie ingredients with alkalizing cucumber and kale, plus anti-inflammatory ginger.
Alkaline Green Smoothie: (from alkalinesisters.com)
Makes 1 smoothie.
6 inch piece of cucumber
- 3 medium Kale leaves, torn
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger
- 1 avocado
- 1 cup coconut water
- fresh juice of one lime
Blend all ingredients on high speed in a blender. Optional: add hemp seeds, coconut oil, or almond butter.
In order to follow the alkaline diet, you may have to eliminate some common foods and beverages from your typical diet. However, many alkaline meals are more flavorful and filling than typical meals filled with doughy breads and processed meats. There are a few super-ingredients- turmeric, a powerful anti-inflammatory, lemon, which contains the alkalizing minerals potassium and magnesium, and spinach, extremely high in alkalizing chlorophyll- that you can use to take the guesswork out of eating alkaline.
The alkaline diet is an effective set of guidelines for nutrition that delivers immediate and long-term results. When your body’s interior environment is alkaline, you may find you have more energy, higher immunity and glowing skin. Furthermore, you are protecting your body from future damage and disease by ensuring your body is receiving the nutrition it requires to be clean, strong and healthy.