There’s no question that the American diet is overloaded with foods we know aren’t good for us even as many of us do our best to eat the right foods as our primary source of sustenance, with the occasional treats finding their way into our diet. The key is that we strive for balance. And balance is the key to vitality.
Balance is literally at the core of our body’s pH levels. pH stands for the “power of hydrogen,” which measures the hydrogen ion concentration in the body. The pH scale ranges from 1-14 – the low end (0-7) is considered acidic, and the lower the pH reading, the more acidic it is. The high end (7-14) is alkaline, with 7 being neutral. Pure water has a pH level of 7 and is considered neutral. The ideal range for the human is slightly acidic, in the range of 7.30 to 7.45. To find your pH level, you can purchase litmus strips that test your urine or saliva first thing in the morning before you eat or drink anything, and test regularly to identify changes or patterns.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF AN ACIDIC pH LEVEL?
While some promote proper pH balance as the cure to all ailments, the complexity of the human body makes that assertion seem far too simplistic. But many agree that there are indeed benefits to reducing the acidity in our bodies. While our diet is key to determining how acidic our body is, it is not the only factor in an extremely complicated set of processes and external factors, and balancing our pH levels through diet does not happen overnight. Having an acidic pH level can lead to conditions tied to hyperacidity and inflammation. In addition to specific health issues such as allergies, migraines, constipation, diabetes and obesity, the following are some general areas of health thought to be affected by our pH levels and conditions associated with each:
- Digestive System. Indigestion, bloating, nausea, acid reflux, and bloating.
- Respiratory system. Colds, bronchitis, asthma, etc.
- Immune System. Inflammatory-related health problems.
- Circulatory System. Heart disease and stroke can result from a series of cascading processes.
- Skeletal System. Arthritis and osteoporosis are issues often associated with an acidic pH balance.
When trying to reduce the body’s acidity, food is the best place to start. Follow these ten steps for a strong start in working toward a healthy pH balance:
- Eat plenty of fresh vegetables, especially dark leafy greens. Organic is ideal, and vegetables with deep pigment or bright colors are best. Feel free to enjoy root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and onions, as they are an excellent source of alkalizing mineral compounds and are high in inulin, which can improve calcium absorption, reducing the risk for osteoporosis.
- Use plenty of lemons and limes in your water or to add flavor to your food. While they may seem acidic, they have a great alkalizing effect in the body.
- Enjoy fresh, low-glycemic fruits. Again, organic is ideal whenever possible.
- Consider “green foods” or “green drinks” as a way to supplement your diet. They contain large amounts of the pigment chlorophyll, the plant world’s equivalent of the hemoglobin in our blood, acting as a strong detoxifier and immunity-building agent. Foods that contain high levels of chlorophyll include wheat grass juice and the algae spirulina and chlorella. Green drinks also provide significant levels of other micronutrients.
- Watch your intake of red meat, and limit all meat protein to 4 ounces per meal. (The size of a deck of cards.) Eat plenty of vegetable protein.
- Eliminate refined carbohydrates, including sugar, and when you eat grains, make sure they are truly “whole” grains.
- Avoid all processed foods, especially those that contain partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats).
- Take a high-quality daily multivitamin to offset nutritional deficiencies. Check to make you’re your supplement contains essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium and magnesium.
- Take an essential fatty acid supplement every day.
- Add a top-quality probiotic to help the body absorb key minerals.
A healthy pH balance is crucial to balancing all of the body’s systems. Maintaining pH balance as part of a holistic approach to wellness and is fundamental to bringing vitality to the body and mind. The diet is the best place to start improving how well your body is balanced and to ultimately taking control of your overall health.