Have you ever checked your pH? I do. All the time. And every time I have a stomachache or just otherwise less than great feeling? Acidic. More acidic than usual, at least. (It’s incredibly easy. You can buy pH strips at most health food stores – Whole Foods included. You can also buy the ones I use, pictured to the right, here. The strips will include a pH scale so you know what you’re looking at.) I know, the pH Diet, it sounds like just another fad. And maybe (probably) the diet book is, but the idea of keeping your body within a happy alkaline range is just good sense. Ideally, you want the blood running through your veins at a pH of 7.365. Approximately!
Actually even slight fluctuations can cause problems which, over time, can become serious. Everything from minor irritations like unclear skin or poor circulation to chronic fatigue or heartburn can signal acidity. Over time you can wind up with immune deficiency and potentially serious disease. An acidic setting is also what bacteria and yeast love most – it literally feeds them. And I don’t think I need to tell you that we don’t like them.
Have you ever looked at a list of what’s alkaline vs. acidic? The latter is largely made up of the stuff you know you aren’t supposed to be eating anyway! Soda, white flour, sugar, red meat, alcohol… you know how it goes. And of course eating lots of vegetables will keep you nice and alkaline. For a pretty comprehensive list of what’s what, just check out this one on Google. Or one of the other zillion lists out there. You’ll notice that even within fruits and vegetables there are more and less acidic choices. Of course you can’t be expected to eat zero foods from the acidic list and everything on the alkaline side, but a good 75-25 sway is a pretty good minimum to stick with. I’m a little more strict, myself.
Basically, alkaline foods give you energy and acidic ones suck you dry. All the cells in your body thrive in an alkaline environment – the other end of the spectrum gives you problems. Your body already fights against acidity as it is, what with regular everyday cellular activity and keeping you breathing and all that, before you even enter food into the equation. Naturally, non-food factors like stress and lack of exercise lead to acidity as well. It’s pretty safe to say you aren’t likely to have to worry about making your body too alkaline. It takes a waaaay larger amount of alkalinity to fight against acidity.
Kris Carr does a pHenomenal job of explaining the basics of pH, including what it means and what to do about it, in her recent book Crazy Sexy Diet. It’s a great book in general, I highly recommend it. One of the things she explains is how relentlessly your body works to maintain balance. You see this all the time – you get too cold and your body shivers to try to warm you back up; you get dehydrated and your body sends signals of intense thirst. Anyway, she explains how this struggle relates to pH and when you do unbalanced things like sticking to highly acidic foods, your body does whatever it can to bring you back to alkalinity. This includes taking minerals from your bones, teeth, tissues and organs – anywhere it can find reserves. As mentioned in the book, you need minerals to make proteins, enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, basically everything you need to live. Your body has to make these, and it relies on what you put in your body to do it. Pretty serious stuff.
Some of the things I do to make sure I keep my pH in check are these…
- Drink LOTS of water
- Green Smoothies – I make them in the morning and keep them in the fridge all day, so when I want a snack I can grab this instead of cookies! I also like to put my morning smoothie in a plastic water bottle with a top – this way I can take it with me so I’m never left hungry and at the mercy of what’s at the nearest coffee shop or corner store.
- Use a green powder! I like Vitamineral Green. I usually put it in my smoothie but you can stick it in water or juice.
- Exercise! Duh, I know, obvious, but it’s easy to let it go if you aren’t thinking about it. It really does a lot to keep you balanced. It certainly has a huge effect on balancing my blood sugar as well. Just remember if you can’t fit in a proper workout, at least make sure you aren’t sitting still all day. Try to get up and move for a while at least every hour.
- Eating vegetables does NOT have to be painful. Don’t let your stubborn brain get stuck on the idea that just because something is a vegetable it can’t be good. Be open-minded. Check out my post on how to sneak them in throughout your day in a tasty way!
- Sea vegetables are especially helpful given all the minerals they contain.
- Try eating more raw foods. (No, I don’t mean beef carpaccio.)
- Take a supplement. I try to buy all organic and high quality foods because I know the nutrient content is generally quite low in other foods. But I still don’t get all the nutrients my body needs, it’s just not a perfect world. At least take a general one. You might also look into probiotics and enzymes, as well as others that suit your individual needs. I love New Chapter and MegaFood, for starters, because they are organic and whole food-derived. Nordic Naturals is a great option for fish oil, another super addition to your daily regimen!! (Quality is critical with fish oil, given all the toxic crud. It’s critical with fish in general, but know that toxins are that much more concentrated in the oil.)
- Cut down on animal! Explore all the millions of other options out there. Be adventurous. Try new recipes! Clearly there are infinite reasons for this, way beyond balancing your pH.
- Stop with the sugar. At least try to eat less of the refined, poor-quality, mass-produced stuff for a start. Use natural sweeteners. But the less sugar (of any kind) you eat the better. Challenge yourself! I’m sure you can go a week or two without any if you decide to.
- RELAX. Find a way to release stress, whether it’s exercise, a hot bath or a massage… Whatever does it for you. Hopefully it’s not 3 glasses of whiskey at the end of the day. I think you know what I’m after – healthy relaxation. I didn’t say it has to be PG!