ACID-ALKALINE: TIPS FOR BALANCING YOUR DIET
Almost all foods that we eat, after being digested, absorbed, and metabolised, release either an acid or an alkaline base (bicarbonate) into blood. Grains, fish, meat, poultry, shellfish, cheese, milk, and salt all produce acid. The mass consumption of these foods have caused our bodies to become overly acidic, which strips it of minerals.
Over the long haul, those who do not balance their diet with alkaline foods (vegetables and fruits, primarily) become prone to weak bones, joints and muscles, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and a host of other health problems. In other words, long-term health and longevity have everything to do with acid-alkaline balance.
Consider the Inuit (a.k.a., Eskimos), who do not have access to many fruits and vegetables. Their diets consist largely of seal meat, fish and whale blubber. While they eat few grains, their diet is nevertheless highly acidic. Though a sturdy bunch, with healthy hearts, their bones start breaking down prematurely. Indeed, the Inuit people have the worst longevity statistics in North America.
In contrast is Okinawa, where more people live to 100 years of age, longer than anywhere in the world. While meat, rice, soy and seafood (highly acidic foods) are squarely in the diet, so are a vast range of different vegetables and fruits, rich in anti-oxidants, as well as minerals that counteract acidity. A wealth of fascinating anthropologic and scientific evidence exists that supports the acid-alkaline theory of health and longevity; there is much information to research this further.
The typical American diet is similar to that of the Inuit in that there is entirely too much meat and not enough alkaline vegetables to balance it. Factory farms in the US manufacture meat and animal products in unhealthy ways, leaving them loaded with toxins and inflammatory compounds. Furthermore, charring meat adds flavor, as well as cancer-causing substances.
To make matters worse, the acidity of the American diet is compounded by all the starches and sweets consumed. Many of these processed foods can be as acidic as meat, chicken, fish and seafood (colas are even more acidic), but are not nearly as full of nutrients. Acidic foods are also generally lacking in fiber, which helps control blood sugar and improves bowel health. The friendly bacteria in the gut need fiber to function. Without them, not only does the digestive system suffer, but also the immune defenses.
The problem is not so much any particular food, but rather the cumulative effect of a highly acidic diet over many decades that eats away at our health.
So, where does that leave us? What can we do to reduce the impact of an acidic diet? For one, reduce the serving sizes of the acidic foods, while increasing the amount of greens and other alkaline veggies during a meal. This markedly reduces the total number of calories consumed, while reducing the acid impact. Learning about what foods are highly acidic or alkaline can help one balance the diet better.
Yet, to make it easy, here are a few suggestions that can help you add more alkaline foods to your diet – Have a big salad at least once a day using green leafy vegetables (especially collard or mustard greens, endive and kale) and add sprouts, broccoli, parsely, asperagus and peppers. Grind black pepper on everything savory. Squeeze lemon or lime juice on fish, salads or in your beverage. Munch on pumpkin seeds or add them to salads. Use sea salt (Celtic, French or Himalayan preferred) rather than regular table salt. Use Apple cider vinegar rather than Balsamic vinegar. Drink ginger tea instead of coffee. If you like radishes, eat them like candy. If you want something sweet, eat cantaloupe, tangerines, mandarins and assorted berries. Let vegetable juices be your summer thirst quencher. Quell a hunger with celery smeared with nut butter. Smear half of an avocado on toast, rather than margarine.
Green leafy vegetables and the foods mentioned above can make a major difference in the balance of things and protect the bones, joints, muscles, heart, brain, liver and kidneys. Alkaline bodies are also much more resistant to infection and cancer.
As far as diets go, these are not boring foods by any means. Indeed, there is a great variety to choose from, and hundreds of simple recipes to play with. In addition, many other healthy and tasty foods are alkaline forming, though not with the same impact as the foods listed above. There are also alkaline mineral supplements, such as the citrates of potassium, magnesium and calcium, which can have profound effects on health and well-being.