Alkaline Foods: What Are They And How They Benefit The Human Body
When it comes to the typical SAD diet (which is short for ‘Standard America Diet’ but which could just as easily be the average Australian, New Zealand or UK diet…..), many people consume foods that are too acidic to effectively promote and maintain a healthy body.
Some examples of these acidic food sources are refined sugars, dairy products, and meats such as beef and pork, and the results of a high-acid diet can include such symptoms as a diminished immune system and lethargy.
Let’s face it, a sugar high can feel really good every once in a while when eating some delicious ice cream. But remember that unless you attempt to alkalize your body and keep things in balance, you run the risk of a crash or ill health as a result.
When it comes down to it, alkalizing the body is not difficult, but in order to understand the benefits of doing so, one must first understand the definition of alkaline foods, how they work with the body, and which foods in particular will counteract the effects of their acidic counterparts.
What Is Alkaline?
Alkaline is defined as that which has a pH greater than 7. Because the body functions best at a pH level of about 7.4, it is important to consume foods which will bring the pH of the body up to an appropriate level.
This is especially crucial when consuming foods that are acidic, and that will bring your pH levels lower than they should be.
Pure, distilled water sits at almost exactly 7 on the pH scale. Foods with a higher number are alkaline, while anything that is lower than 7 is considered acidic.
Benefits Of An Alkaline Diet
As a general rule, foods can be classified as either acid-forming or alkaline forming.
The human body’s pH is 7.35, or slightly alkaline. The body is always seeking a state of homeostasis (balance) and it works hard to maintain the healthy neutral alkaline zone.
Now keep in mind that foods in in of themselves cannot change this zone in the body, but the body does have to work extra hard to compensate for the intake of acid-forming foods that are ingested in excess.
This happens because when your diet is highly acidic, your body has to leech calcium from the bones, as calcium is an alkalizing mineral. Over time this can lead to bone mineral loss, which can result in osteoporosis.
Additionally, as a stressor, it can lead to inflammation along with increased cortisol levels and this can impact overall health in the long term.
On the other hand, those foods that are alkaline forming are typically plant based and highly nutrient dense. They also tend to be loaded with antioxidants.
Including a variety of alkaline forming foods in your diet slows or stops the leeching of calcium from the bones, and this results in improved bone health which means stronger bones for life.
These foods also support healthy cell regeneration and they fight the effects of free-radicals on the body.
Since it is the pH level of blood which concerns us, putting too many acidic foods into our diets together with a lack of alkaline foods, actually works against the human system. When more strain is put on the body to fight sickness and disease, it is no wonder a highly acidic diet might make us feel tired and lethargic.
Benefits Of Alkaline Forming Foods For Athletes And Exercise
There is more goods news when it comes to eating alkaline foods, and this is regarding the major benefits that alkalizing foods have on athletes and for the human body during exercise in general.
A diet high in acid forming foods results in reduction of muscle efficiency, so more energy expenditure is needed for each and every muscle contraction. Now during a race or intense activity, this means a lot of extra work for the body.
Since alkaline forming foods greatly reduce inflammation, the muscles work at more functional levels and they also require less force to move.
This allows endurance athletes, such as those who run marathons and participate in triathlons, to push harder for longer. For those who do strength training, and bodybuilders, alkalizing foods will allow you to lift heavier weights with less negative stress on the body.
How To Eat An Alkaline Diet
Increasing the alkaline intake does not have to be particularly difficult, and one must not cut acidic foods entirely from his or her diet.
It is recommended that your diet consist of around 80% alkaline food sources, with acidic foods making up the remaining 20%.
This contrasts the average Westerner’s diet which often flips that ratio around. There are some changes in the diet which can be made quickly and easily in order to alter your pH level.
Swap Coffee For Green Tea
For example, you might switch from coffee to green tea in order to bring your blood’s pH level higher. Green tea is alkaline while coffee is acidic, so the substitution might make a drastic change especially if you consume coffee quite often.
This is a change which any Zen master will definitely approve of, and green tea contains many antioxidants as well.
Always eat your vegetables, the best choice in alkalizing varieties, are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, celery, chard greens, collard greens, cucumber, cauliflower and mushrooms, just to name a few. These foods are alkaline and will not only help reduce stress on the body in fighting acid, but are also highly nutrient dense and plain good for you!
Some of the best fruits are also very alkalizing, and include melons, lemons, oranges, peaches, pears, apples, bananas, berries, cantaloupe and grapes.
Remember, you don’t have to eliminate dairy products, rice, and all protein from animal sources in order to maintain a healthy pH level.
However, it might benefit you to eliminate refined sugars and replace them with healthy fruits and vegetables, while also keeping the consumption of wheat and other grains low.
Doing that, along with drinking plenty of green tea, will increase your pH levels and your chances of finding health-nirvana naturally and easily!
Want to know more about how to alkalize your body? Grab Emma’s free, information packed five day email course while it’s available.