Alkaline foods seem to make their way into every conversation about health. Why do they matter and should you be eating them? Many people in the United States have highly acidic bodies, and this acidity is linked to climbing rates of bone loss, weight gain, cancer, gastric disorders, and chronic inflammation. This is directly related to high protein diets, smoking cigarettes, alcohol consumption, and the intake of processed foods and medications. All of these things upset the natural pH balance, which is not good for your overall health.
While methods of self-care, including acupuncture, exercise, and meditation, can enhance overall health, diet is ultimately one of the most important things to focus on. Diet dictates your mood, brain health, muscle function, bone health, joint mobility, and pretty much everything else in the body. Most people go on autopilot and forget to consume foods that are alkaline. This is important because most of the foods in the Western diet are highly acidic. The average person is concerned with convenience and not actively focusing on healthy fats, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Acid/Alkaline Balance
The body is an incredible specimen and regulates pH in very narrow ranges. The different organs and systems in the body are kept within certain pH ranges, and fine-tuned mechanisms are in place to adjust the pH to healthy levels if necessary. The body can release calcium from bone to adjust pH level, which may be a contributing factor to growing rates of osteoporosis.
Why Alkaline Foods Matter
There is a very simple answer to this: the body’s internal design was not meant to process the foods in the Standard American Diet. The internal environment needs a diverse mix of nutrients to stay healthy, and one of the best ways to do this is to consume alkaline foods. The goal should be to have each meal contain 75% alkaline-producing foods and 25% acid-producing foods to maintain a healthy acid/alkaline balance. Fruits and vegetables balance the protein intake, which is exemplified in the Mediterranean diet. To help you on your quest to consume alkaline foods, we’ve detailed the best ones below.
People often associate lemons with acidic foods because they contain citric acid, but they have an alkalizing effect when ingested. Not only do they encourage healthy digestion, but they also aid the liver with eliminating toxins from the body. Start your day with a glass of warm water with the juice of half a lemon in it to propel the body into an alkaline state.
Spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, watercress, chard, turnip greens, and collards fall under the leafy greens umbrella. These greens are typically loaded with iron, folate, copper, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, K, and B. Leafy greens have been known to protect against certain cancer cells, decrease inflammation, and reduce the risk of heart disease by improving blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Whether you go for jalapenos or bell peppers, Anaheim peppers or poblanos, most peppers are alkaline forming. Peppers work to reduce excess acidity in the body to inhibit free radical damage. They also contain carotenoids and other antioxidants, which have been known to decrease the risk of age-related conditions like dementia.
While wheatgrass may not be the most appetizing food on this list, it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods to consume. Did you know that wheatgrass contains 102 minerals that are naturally found in soil? Well, it does, and it is also rich in chlorophyll, vitamins, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. Wheatgrass has been known to reduce gastro-intestinal problems, cleanse the liver, increase red blood cell count, and stimulate thyroid hormone production. Don’t consume more than a couple ounces of wheatgrass per day, though, in order to avoid stomach troubles.
Many people suffer from fluid retention, and this is a common reason for weight gain. Additionally, the continued consumption of acid forming foods can make it difficult to release water weight. Asparagus is an alkaline-forming food that helps to decrease fluid retention and lower inflammation, and it works to promote healthy digestion!
This is one of the few grains that has alkaline properties. Containing all nine essential amino acids, amaranth contains a lot of protein and is perfect for vegans or vegetarians. Since most breakfast cereals are high in sugar and sodium, swap those cereals with amaranth to increase alkalinity and your fiber intake.
While eating raw red onion is a great way to reap its nutrients, lightly sautéing red onion in a healthy fat (like coconut oil or avocado oil) can increase the level of alkalinity. Onions are naturally rich in vitamin C and have been praised for their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
As you can see, the regular consumption of alkaline foods can help decrease the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and certain cancers. Boost your alkaline levels to ensure a healthier body.