Christina Carreau BA, ND
Many of us have heard about the importance of alkalinizing our bodies or increasing our pH but what does this actually mean?
Our bodies are always in a state of trying to balance our pH. This is a balance between an acidic versus alkaline internal environment. The optimal pH balance for our bodies is slightly alkaline. In an alkaline state our cells, tissues, and organs function optimally and our risk for disease is significantly reduced. However, disease states flourish in an acidic environment and it is in this acidic environment that conditions such as allergies, acne, asthma, osteoporosis, arthritis, weight issues, heart issues and even cancer thrive.
The body has several regulatory mechanisms that adjust pH to prevent excess acidity or alkalinity. Our lungs, our kidneys and our bones are the three most powerful systems for pH regulation. That is why it is so important to practice diaphraghmatic breathing – to maximize expulsion of carbon dioxide (a powerful acidifier) from our body; to drink lots of water – to ensure that our kidneys are able to excrete acidifying compounds via urine; and to eat a diet rich in alkaline forming foods to ensure that we are not leaching minerals from our bones to buffer the acidity that is created by eating a diet rich in processed foods, animal protein, caffeinated beverages and artificial sweeteners.
The primary determinant of whether your body is acidic or alkaline is what your body takes in, which includes foods, drugs, and even what you absorb through your skin. When these substances are absorbed, the components reach the kidneys as either an acid-forming compound or a base-forming one. The body can accumulate too much acid if you are taking in too many acid-producing compounds. This is why it is so important to eat a diet that is rich in alkalinizing foods and also why ‘Greens powders and supplements’ have become so popular over the past few years.
Here is a list of 10 foods to help alkalinize your body. Not only will these foods help make you more alkaline but they have a number of additional health benefits.
- Lemons – are rich in vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and antioxidants. Start your day with warm lemon water to kick start your digestive system.
- Watermelon – is a great source of fiber, beta-carotene, lycopene and vitamin C. It has a water content of 92 percent of its weight, making it a mild diuretic.
- Greens (Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, dandelion greens, etc) – dark leafy greens are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. The health benefits of dark leafy greens are far superior to Iceberg and Romaine lettuce. Try and consume a bowl of leafy greens daily.
- Asparagus – contains an important amino acid, asparagines, which is vital to the proper functioning of the nervous system. This vegetable is best eaten cooked.
- Celery – is rich in vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C. It also contains a rich supply of potassium, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, sodium and plenty of essential amino acids.
- Mango and Papaya – are vitamin-rich fruits, packed with water. These fruits contain a diuretic effect which aids in cleansing your colon and kidneys.
- Pineapple – rich in antioxidants and vitamins A, B and C. It is a great source of fiber, antioxidants and L-carnitine, which helps you maintain a healthy body weight.
- Alfalfa Sprouts – are nutrient-rich, and a powerful source of antioxidants, which protect your body from the effects of aging. You can add alfalfa sprouts to any salad or sandwich for added flavor.
- Garlic – provides your body with many benefits such as lowering blood pressure, promoting cardiovascular and immune health, cleansing the liver and fighting off illness.
- Cayenne – Capsicum is the name given to a variety of tropical peppers, including cayenne and chili. Capsicum peppers are high in enzymes essential to the endocrine system. They are also rich in vitamin A, and therefore are beneficial in fighting off free radicals that cause stress and illness.
Incorporating more alkaline foods into your diet and becoming more familiar with foods that are acid forming can offer incredible health benefits both immediate and long-term.
I encourage you to monitor your pH to gain greater awareness of what is going on in your body. Measuring your urine and salivary pH on a regular basis can give you valuable information as to whether you are eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy pH. You can pick up pH paper at most health food stores.
Testing your pH with Saliva or Urine
For saliva testing it is best to test either 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating. Before you test, it is a good idea to try to fill your mouth with saliva and then swallow. This helps remove any acidic bacteria that might be lurking. Do not try to wash your mouth out with anything else as this will simply record the alkalinity of the liquid you have just used. Normal pH range is 6.5-7.4
For urine testing, let some urine flow before testing as this will give a more accurate reading. It is also a good idea to test 2-3 times in a day in order to get an average, as first thing in the morning the urine tends to be more acidic than throughout the day (depending on activity and diet). Normal pH range is 6.0-7.2
Do what you can to reduce your risk of disease and illness. A healthier today means a healthier tomorrow.