Remember back in high school chemistry when you tested the pH of stuff using litmus paper? For me, the term pH brings forth flashbacks of unattractive googles that left marks on my face after class. Teenage angst aside, the concept of pH is pretty important. If you’ve been around the health food movement long enough, chances are you have heard about acidity and alkaline properties of foods and the importance of a healthy pH balance in the body. It is commonly believed that achieving balance in the body’s pH is key in the process of healing from disease.
So what is pH again? The term pH stands for power of hydrogen and is a scale from 1 to 14. Items that are less than a 7 are considered to be acidic, whereas items over 7 are considered alkaline. The body’s ideal pH is slightly alkaline, 7.30 to 7.45. (Who knew high school chemistry could come in so handy later in life?)
Due to our lifestyle, many Americans today are too acidic. When the body is too acidic it is more likely to carry extra weight, have skin problems and develop inflammatory-related illnesses. Common diseases and disorders associated with an acidic condition in the body include, but are not limited to, osteoporosis, gout, cancer, migraines, constipation, morning sickness, allergies, diabetes and obesity. Acidity affects all areas of the body, from our digestive system to our nervous system:
- Digestive system: indigestion, nausea, bloating, gastric reflux
- Circulatory system: inflammation in arteries, which causes heart disease
- Immune system: increased growth in harmful bacteria
- Respiratory system: oxygen does not flow as easily to cells in the body, leaving them starving and not able to perform as they are supposed to in order to keep the body healthy
- Skeletal system: accumulation of acid deposits in joints and wrists, damaging cartilage and increasing risk of arthritis
- Skin and muscles: rashes and acne, disrupts breakdown of glucose and oxygen into energy leading to poor performance of our muscles
- Nervous system: feeling of physical, mental and emotional weakness
- Reproductive system: may lead to infertility
Below is a handy dandy chart of common acidic foods:
Now I love coffee, chocolate and wine like the rest of you guys, so before you freak out and think you can never eat them again, take a deep breath and remember that it is all about balance. Yeah, we can eat some of the acidic stuff, but let’s just counteract that with a load of yummy foods on the alkaline side of the scale. Foods on the other side of 7 help to regulate weight, promote longevity, aid in digestion, are immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory. You can probably guess already that alkaline foods are real foods. Those grown in nature and minimally processed (if at all). No fake or added things here. Below are some common alkaline foods:
Reflect a little about where your food falls on the pH scale. Are you maybe a little too acidic? Do you feel pretty balanced? If you are more on the acidic side think about how you can add more of the alkaline foods above into your lifestyle. I recommend starting first with water. Regular filtered tap water has a pH of 7, right smack dab in the middle. Add some lemon (lemon essential oil is perfect for this), lime or berries to that puppy and you get some alkaline influence! Second, take a look at your plate when you eat. If you imagine it as a pie chart, at least half of it should be filled with fruits and vegetables. The more the better in my opinion! The remainder of your plate is for whole grains, protein and healthy fats. Meat or pasta should not be the centerpiece of your meal.
For a more complete list of acidic and alkaline foods, check out this website here.
Peace, love and alkaline living,