— Olivia Janisch
You may have heard the words ‘alkaline’ and ‘acidic’ used together lately and wondered what on Earth it’s got to do with you, and why these are the new buzz words in nutrition. I’d like to briefly explain what they mean and why a proper understanding of these terms is vital to your overall health, energy levels and quality of life.
Just as we have a normal temperature of 98.6 degrees F, there are other measures of homeostasis within our systems. One of the biggest measures is that of our pH level, which is the balance between alkaline and acid. Ideally, we want our pH of all bodily fluids to be 7.4, which is slightly alkaline.
By having this slightly alkaline balance within our bodies we’re able to fight off illnesses more efficiently, have higher energy levels, reduce inflammation that leads to ailments from headaches to heart disease, and create an internal environment that is easy to maintain and supports our everyday lives in a healthy and non-intrusive way.
Unfortunately, the typical American diet is extremely high in acid forming foods that cause our bodies to use excessive energy desperately trying to return to an alkaline state, and to call on stored reserves of alkaline minerals.
Not all acid forming foods are unhealthy (ie organic meat and eggs, organic unrefined oils), and you want to have a balance of 20% healthy acid forming foods and 80% alkaline forming foods for every meal. The problems arise when there is a stark imbalance in one’s diet. This imbalance occurs with over-consumption of processed foods like sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed and antibiotic-laden meats, soft drinks, dairy, tofu, refined grains and alcohol.
Common discomforts like fatigue, headaches, bloating, and poor sleep- things many people deem to be a normal part of life- can be resolved by eating more alkaline forming foods and reducing acid forming foods. While cutting out processed and excessively acidic foods is the best thing you can do, here are three small steps that will make a noticeable difference.
1. Drink hot water with organic lemon in the mornings on an empty stomach
I know what you’re thinking: aren’t lemons acidic? Lemons on their own are acidic, however in our systems they are very alkaline. After a long night’s sleep it’s important to first hydrate in the mornings. Hydrating this way cleanses your body from the day before – hot water and lemon help to detoxify your system – and activates your metabolism. It also boosts your immune system and helps with weight loss (If you’d like more info, check out this article http://ow.ly/ccyea). There’s literally no reason not to start your day off like this.
2. Eat celery before, during, and/or after meals
Celery is extremely alkaline and contains a balanced content of minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients. It helps to neutralize acid that is created by things like meat, breads and sugars, and has high water content good for hydration. You can add it to salads, soups, or sandwiches, or eat it on it’s own with almond butter or hummus. It aids in digestion and is a great source of vitamin C, reducing inflammation and discomfort after a meal.
3. Pair your foods properly
This one is probably the hardest as many common recipes combine foods that actually require different enzymes to be digested properly. When food isn’t digested properly it gets stuck in the digestive tract and putrefies, causing a toxic and acidic environment. Here is a basic breakdown of what foods do and don’t go together:
Proteins + Starches = do not mix
Proteins + vegetables = mix
Starches + vegetables = mix
Different starches = mix
Different proteins = do not mix
Fats + protein = do not mix well, pair moderately
Fats + starches = do mix
Fruits = ALWAYS eaten on an empty stomach
Fruit + raw greens = mix
For a more in depth explanation on food pairing, here is a great article: http://ow.ly/cb6B6
Combining your food the right way will reduce bloating and gas after meals, help control or more likely reduce your weight, and will increase your energy levels.
To give you an idea of a balanced day, here is a little menu.
Hot water with lemon (on empty stomach)
(20%) Scrambled organic eggs (1-2)
(80%) Sautéed onions and greens, sliced avocado
(20%) Quinoa (1/4 cup)
(80%) Sautéed carrots, peas, asparagus
(20%) Grilled salmon
(80%) Green beans with garlic
Leaks and yellow squash sautéed with oregano
When making diet changes, always remember to be gentle on yourself. If you try and change every meal or several habits at once, chances are you’ll get burned out and frustrated. Small steps are easy to incorporate into your daily routine and don’t take a toll on your lifestyle so that your good intentions are able to have long-lasting, sustainable effects. Good luck and let us know what works for you!