The Healthy Diet: Acid or Alkaline?

The modern diet and lifestyle is changing dramatically and diet-related health problems are on the rise. Scientists are drawing attention to the fact that increases in the rates of certain cancers, heart problems and type-2 diabetes correlate very closely with the rise of acid-forming foods such as sugars, bad saturated fats, and refined carbohydrates in our diets. At the same time our chaotic lifestyles and insufficient consumption of health-giving vegetables and important omega fatty acids are driving us towards ill-health. Maintaining a correct balance of the body’s acid/alkaline ratio is essential for maintaining well-being can result in weight loss, a better immune system and increased vitality and energy.

The optimum pH level of the human body is between 7.35-7.45, making it slightly alkaline. The closer your body is to this level, the greater your health and ability to fight off infections. Accordingly, deviations from this ideal balance could signify potentially serious health concerns. One of the main causes of pH upset is food; after digestion, foods leave either an acid or alkaline residue. Due to the predominantly unhealthy Western diet, with a focus on sugar, wheat, dairy, red meat, tea, coffee, alcohol and carbonated soft drinks (all of which are acid-forming), we are often out of balance and too acidic. Our body then has to use up important minerals such as magnesium and calcium in order to neutralise the acidity and restore the balance, and our excretory organs (kidneys and liver) struggle to remove the acid residue. Over time, these organs simply cannot cope and so the excess acid is either purged through the skin, or stored in excess fat and joints. This can result in acne, osteoporosis, weight-gain and arthritis. An acid body is also thought to speed up the ageing process, and contribute to bacterial, viral and fungal infections, as they all thrive in acid conditions.

It is easier than you may think to restore the natural alkaline balance, but it does require some important dietary changes. Given the improvement to your health, however, this should be an adjustment you are willing to make; your weight will stabilise, energy levels will increase, and germs will find your body a more hostile environment. Aim for the 80/20 rule – with 80% of your diet alkaline, you can allow for the remaining 20% to be acid forming. Try to include as many vegetables, especially the dark green leafy variety, as possible in your diet, as well as oily fish such as salmon or anchovies (alternatively, try taking a fish oil supplement such as Vegepa). Oddly, citrus fruit such as lemons, limes and grapefruit are in fact alkaline, and very good at neutralising acidity. It may be worth investing in some litmus paper (you may remember this from school science lessons – it tests the pH level) which is inexpensive and easily bought via the internet. Simply wet the paper with your saliva, and the colour it turns corresponds to your body’s pH level. Ideally, this should be done at least two hours after eating, so as not to upset the results.

Summer is the perfect time to implement such changes to your diet, as the warmer weather calls for salads and fresh fruit. It’s time to restore your body’s natural balance and look forward to a lighter, healthier, longer life.

Alkaline forming foods to include in your diet:

Green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, onions, sprouted seeds such as alfalfa, celery, carrots, beetroot, broccoli, spinach, garlic, bananas, almonds, lemons, grapefruit, watermelon, oats, millet, oily fish such as salmon,

Acid forming foods to eliminate from your diet (or consume in moderation):

Sugary foods such as cakes, biscuits, chocolate, dairy produce, refined carbohydrates, red meat, sugary carbonated soft drinks, pork, lamb, beef, peanuts, alcohol, tea, coffee.

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