When I went to school to become a naturopathic doctor, we certainly did extensive study on nutrition however I don’t remember a strong emphasis on having a balanced pH or perhaps I missed those classes. I realize now how important acid/alkaline balance is for optimal health. Every person that comes through my office doors has one thing in common>>they are consuming a diet too high in acid foods. In fact, western culture as a whole consume far more acid foods (~80%) than alkaline foods (~20%). Ideally, our diet would have 60-80% coming from alkaline foods and only 20-40 % coming from acid foods. What is pH anyways and why does it matter?
pH stands for potential of hydrogen (the measurement of hydrogen ions in a particular solution) and the acid/alkaline balance relates to the chemistry of your body’s fluid and tissues. This relationship between acid and alkaline is quantified on a scale of 0-14 with a pH of 7 being neutral, pH of less than 7 classified as acidic and a pH above 7 classified as alkaline. Optimal blood pH is ~7.365 so slightly alkaline. When a food is metabolized, an acid or base is left. Our diet should contain more alkaline foods to promote a slightly alkaline pH.
Alkaline foods include all the green veggies especially the leafy variety> think kale, collards, bok choy, lettuce, spinach. All the brassicas are alkalinizing and cancer fighting> think broccoli, cauliflower, kale, watercress, turnips, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi. Raw tomatoes are alkaline but cooked are acidic. All grasses including wheatgrass are alkaline. Root vegetables are alkaline such as sweet potatoes, white potatoes (not french fries), radishes, and all other vegetables such as sweet peppers, celery, carrots, etc. Beans and peas are considered to be alkalizing as well. There are many resources online to give you a comprehensive list of alkaline foods. Raw almonds are alkalinizing. Grains are more acidic but two that are considered more neutral or slightly alkaline include millet and buckwheat. Stevia is a sweetener that is considered alkaline.
Deep breathing and meditation support a more alkaline environment.
Acid foods which contribute to a more acidic pH include animal protein >red meat, poultry, fish, dairy products (cheese, yogurt, milk, etc), coffee, tea, sugar, nuts (moreso if salted, roasted), refined grains, rice, oats, wheat, legumes such as soybeans, chick beas, black beans, sugar, vinegars (except apple cider). Anything processed is acidic, alcohol, condiments, soy sauce. Fruits are more acidic although lemons, limes, and grapefruit are more alkaline in function and thus contribute to a more alkaline pH. Dried fruits are acidic. Drugs and cigarettes are acidic as is a lifestyle full of stress. I’ll write more about pH next time. Until next time, eat more veggies…