Awesome, Amazing, Admirable…all great words, but the one I’m referring to is most important to all of us – alkaline. Let’s go back to high school chemistry class…remember the pH scale? It ranges from 0-14 measuring how acidic or alkaline a liquid is; a pH of 7 is considered neutral, below 7 is considered acidic, and above 7 is considered alkaline. Our bodies maintain a blood pH of about 7.4, which is slightly alkaline. Our kidneys are the main organs helping our bodies maintain this pH by filtering out excess acids and excreting them in our urine. When we consume a diet high in acid, oxygen in our bodies is depleted. Oxygen is vital for our cells to function properly; the inability to work correctly results in the acids accumulating in our tissues. Studies have shown us that this overload can lead to various health problems – inflammation, allergies, kidney stones, reduced bone density, muscle degradation, development of arthritis, diabetes, and some cancers. In short, an acidic body is a target for disease.
Our bodies are able to work most efficiently when they are slightly alkaline, creating an unfriendly environment for disease. Here are some ways to achieve a more alkaline body:
- Drink lots of water. Water helps the body flush toxins, increases energy levels, aids in weight loss, carries nutrients to the cells, and supports a healthy bowel. Try to drink about half your body weight (pounds) in ounces, so a 150 pound person should drink 75 ounces of water a day. I start each day with a cup of hot water and lemon. Lemon water is highly alkaline and a good boost of vitamin C. Drinking this first thing in the morning flushes the body of toxins that have accumulated in the night while you were sleeping and not drinking water, which in turn aids digestion. By waking up your digestion, you have woken up your body. Since I’ve started this daily ritual, I have not felt the need for caffeine…my body and mind are ready to start the day.
- Release the need for coffee. We are told we need it to wake up, stay awake, and be productive. Coffee is acidic, so try to replace it with herbal or green tea. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants, which are so beneficial to the body. I drink matcha green tea when I feel I need some help with my energy levels; it gives a nice, even surge of energy rather than a jolt and quick decline like coffee does. Plus it doesn’t leave me with awful coffee breath or stained teeth.
- Cut the sugar. Sugar is so dangerous because it’s one of the most addictive drugs and is readily accessible, yet also one of the most acidic foods. This is what makes you love the foods you eat so much. Most things have sugar hidden in them, even things you wouldn’t think – salad dressings, pickled sweet peppers, almond milk, yogurt, etc. Start reading labels and stay away from the processed sugars. If you must sweeten, use stevia or coconut sugar as a replacement. I’ll tell you this – it’s one of the hardest things to cut; in fact, some people even go through a “withdrawal” period of headaches, aches and pains, mood swings, and “the shakes”…scary, right?! However, once it’s out of your body you will think clearer, feel amazing, and have glowing, clear skin.
- Add greens. When you think you’ve had enough, add some more. Leafy greens are highly alkaline and filled with oxygen and vitamins, meaning they are GREAT for your body. Aim to have half your plate filled with greens at every meal. I also add a powdered greens supplement to a protein shake every day to ensure I get all my greens and necessary vitamins.
- Remove dairy. The various forms of dairy all show up on the acid side of the scale – cheese is 5.1-5.9, yogurt is 4, sour cream or creamy dressings are 4.5, ice cream is 5.4-6. The body uses calcium, magnesium, and potassium as buffers to neutralize these acids, meaning extra work for the body and less reserve of these vital minerals. There are so many great, tasty options to substitute dairy now – almond milk, cashew cream, coconut yogurt, coconut ice cream…try one and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
- Manage your minerals. Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium are the building blocks of the body needed for proper function and all work together to achieve results – magnesium helps transport calcium and potassium across cell membranes. The best source of calcium is leafy greens, so consider them a 2 for 1 deal. Raw, unsalted almonds are also a great source of magnesium and calcium.
- Give up gluten. Gluten forms a paste in the intestines preventing the proper absorption of nutrients. We have become a society dependant on gluten…cheese & crackers, sandwiches, pancakes, etc. Stop consuming gluten and see how much better you will feel.
- Opt out of alcohol. Most alcohol has gluten and/or sugar so this is a no-brainer.
- Dodge the chemicals. Yes, I know they are everywhere, but you can control the ones you put on your body. Many ingredients in skin care and make-up products can affect your hormones and are basically pollutants in your body. Read labels and educate yourself.
- Get your exercise. Regular active movement helps keep your lymphatic system flowing, which creates more alkaline blood. Aerobic exercise is best for working the muscles and removing the acid. Walking, biking, swimming, or dancing are great ways to get moving.
- De-stress. I know you know stress is not healthy, but did you know stress creates cellular acidity? Take some time to do breathing exercises, take a relaxing epsom salts bath, read, whatever it is that helps calm your mind do it!
Try living a more alkaline life for 30 days and tell me how you feel. I promise you won’t regret it. 🙂