If you take yourself back to high school biology you likely learned about a little thing known as homeostasis. It is the body’s ability to maintain balance in response to all of the impacts of daily life. For example, your temperature stays pretty stable around 98.6 degrees regardless of whether you are standing outside in a snow storm or laying out at the beach. If your body is out of balance, that is likely when you start to feel sick or fatigued. Homeostasis also works to maintain the pH of our blood which is slightly alkaline at 7.365 pH. An alkaline state means your blood can absorb more oxygen. The opposite of alkaline is acidic and an acidic environment can be hazardous to your health. If your body is unable to absorb enough oxygen, you can get sick which can involve something as simple as gaining weight and feeling tired to more severe conditions like cancer and heart disease. Americans in general tend to be too acidic. We become acidic due to stress, toxins, and of course the food we eat. An acidic state makes it easier for bad cells to thrive and it eats away at our body causing inflammation and various other problems. Many people who start eating a more alkaline diet experience significant weight loss, not just because they are eating better foods but because those foods reduce the acidity and thus the inflammation. Your body metabolizes food into either an alkaline or an acid. Food that may be acidic like an orange, actually metabolizes into an alkaline in your body. You will likely experience more energy, a boosted immune system and a sense of clarity if you incorporate enough alkaline foods into your diet to create an alkaline state.
Here is a list of common acidic foods:
- Junk & Processed foods
- Coffee & Tea (black)
- All animal food (meat, eggs, chicken, fish, lobster, oysters)
- Grains: (white) wheat, rice, pasta, flour, bread etc
- Dairy products (milk, cheese, butter)
- Peanuts, cashews
Here is a list of some alkaline foods:
- Raw Vegetables – especially green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale)
- Fresh Herbs & Spice – parsley, basil, cilantro, cayenne, ginger
- Fruits – watermelon, avocado, cucumber, cantaloupe
- Wheat grass
- Sprouts: i.e. alfalfa, mung bean, broccoli etc.
- Dried Figs
- Kelp and other sea greens
- Berries: blue berries, strawberries
Generally raw fruits and vegetables are your best bet. Cooking destroys many of the nutrients in food and may change your body’s ability to metabolize it properly. Some say that juicing can help speed up the process of converting your body to an alkaline state. Water is often acidic despite most people’s thoughts that it is neutral. Try buying an alkaline water like Essentia (available at most health food stores). While it may be difficult to incorporate only alkaline foods into your diet, the health benefits can be substantial especially if you are in a diseased state. Any effort to create an alkaline state will be beneficial. Remember that stress plays a big role in creating an acidic state so try to find ways to reduce stress like yoga or other forms of activity. Toxins are harmful for our bodies as well and we recommend organic foods when possible. Organic foods are especially important if you are consuming the whole fruit like a strawberry and less important if there is a peal like a banana or avocado. Instead of making drastic changes to your diet that will never last, try adding more fresh foods initially and once you get used to eating them as snacks or with meals you can begin to eliminate unhealthy items from your diet. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and try to have fun with it. Eating healthy is a process and in order to sustain it, you need to have realistic goals. Like any change in your life, diet requires a big adjustment. Food often satisfies more than just hunger and you will likely miss that emotional state of fullness you get after a delicious comfort food meal. Your body and taste buds will adapt though and thank you for it eventually! Remember, eating a more alkaline diet doesn’t mean you can never eat ice cream again, it just means you should try to limit your intake for the sake of your health. Cheating is completely acceptable and encouraged! Being overly strict with your diet makes it stressful and frustrating. However you are likely to find that once you start eating healthy items more regularly, your cravings for processed foods will diminish and they may not even sound as good to you anymore. I used to drink a lot of soda and now I don’t even miss it.
There is a common misconception that buying fresh food is more expensive than buying packaged, processed foods. We have found that eliminating processed foods (chips, frozen food, cheese, soda) from our list has actually reduced our grocery bill. Part of this may be because processed and junk foods do not satisfy our body despite “filling” us up initially. The result is that we are often hungry shortly after we eat and want to snack constantly. If your body gets all the nutrients it needs from a meal, you are less likely to feel hungry later. Another plus is that you can eat as much raw food as you want without feeling guilty! An additional option would be to grow some of the items yourself for further savings. Fresh herbs and tomatoes grow easily even if you don’t have a green thumb and its a fun project for kids!