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Alkaline vs. acidic foods

How to make the body less acidic and improve your health

Envision some of the foods you regularly crave. Pizza. Steak. Hamburgers. The All-American diet. Of course, these items are delicious, but the meat and carb-heavy foods you’ve grown accustomed to may be putting you at risk for chronic disease. And the reason for that may come down to your eating alkaline vs. acidic foods.

Like any good piece of machinery, your body can become less efficient if you don’t fill it with the right fuel. Fuel? Yes, fuel. Or in your body’s case, food. Alkaline foods and acidic foods have a big impact on the state of your body, including whether it has an acidic pH. A healthy diet leads to less pain and more energy as well as fewer chronic health problems, but many people don’t realize how alkaline-rich foods play into that diet.

So what are acidic foods? What are alkaline foods? And how can you use them to get the body you want – and deserve? Let’s start with the basics.

What is pH balance?

The pH (potential of hydrogen) scale measures how acidic or how alkaline a solution is. It’s based on a scale of 0 to 14, where the lower the pH the more acidic, and the higher the pH the more alkaline. And when a solution is completely neutral, like water, it has a pH of 7.

In order to survive, your blood must maintain a delicate pH balance range of 7.35 to 7.45. Any time a pH imbalance occurs and results in acidic blood that is out of this range, the blood is unable to deliver adequate oxygen and protect the body from disease. Your organs also require proper pH balance to function properly. Any disruption to your pH balance can have severe consequences – yet many of us continue to fill our bodies with acidic foods.

What are acidic foods?

Acidic foods are anything you consume with a pH under 7. Some examples of acidic foods are coffee, most processed foods, certain dairy products, sugar, processed or cured meats and a variety of other items. The stomach itself is very acidic, with a pH of 3.5 or below, so it has more trouble breaking down these foods. That’s why they don’t fit into a sustainable health diet and can cause a number of negative reactions in your body.

As if your body didn’t have enough challenges neutralizing a heavily acidic diet, lifestyle can also play a role in whether or not you have an acidic pH. Alcohol and caffeine have been shown to create greater acidity levels in our bodies, and breaking these bad habits is essential.

What are acidic foods? The truth is that they’re often the majority of the American diet. This means that the majority of Americans are placing a heavy acidic burden on their bodies and straining their blood’s regulation system – not to mention that we as a society are filled with stress and anxiety, which can also cause an acidic pH in the body as well as numerous negative physical and mental conditions. If you want to know how to make the body less acidic, however, you also need to learn about alkaline foods.

What are alkaline foods?

Alkaline foods are those with a higher pH, between 7 and 14. Many of the most common foods we typically think of when we think about dieting are alkalizing and have an alkaline effect on the body: fruit, vegetables (especially green leafy vegetables), legumes, seeds and nuts are all ultra-healthy and alkalizing.

Some less obvious alkaline-rich foods include raisins and currants, potatoes and other root vegetables, seaweed and soy. You can use the alkaline foods onion, garlic and ginger to add flavor to various dishes. There are even some fruits, like lemons, that have an acidic pH outside the body, but when eaten are metabolized into an alkaline solution.

One way to supplement your diet and work on correcting an acidic pH is to drink alkaline water. Water typically has a neutral pH of 7, but when you make the water more alkaline, it can help to counter acidity in the body. In order to become alkaline, water must have alkaline minerals added to it such as calcium, potassium and magnesium. In addition to reducing the amount of acid present, some experts believe that alkaline water can also support the immune system and help you achieve lasting weight loss.

What are the benefits of alkaline vs. acidic foods?

How do alkaline vs. acidic foods factor into illness and disease? It mostly comes down to inflammation. If you regularly eat a large amount of acidic foods, like processed meals from a fast food restaurant or drink lots of coffee, eventually your body can’t keep up, so it turns to other ways of protecting itself.

Acidic foods trigger an inflammatory response in the body and inflammation damages cells and tissues. They also promote the formation of mucus, which is damaging to the lungs, and raise the acid levels of bile and pancreatic juices, which have a negative effect on the body’s ability to detoxify. This can trigger an entirely new set of problems that can lead to weight gain and the onset of chronic diseases like kidney failure and diabetes.

Alkaline-rich foods, on the other hand, have been shown to raise the level of human growth hormones, improve bone health, promote muscle growth and prevent weight-related diseases such as diabetes. Alkaline foods are also packed with nutrients, enzymes and phytochemicals that are also effective disease-fighters. They are low calorie, low carb and do not have harmful chemicals or preservatives. By filling up on alkaline foods, you can help detoxify your body, avoid having an overly acidic pH and counter the acidic impact of both diet and lifestyle.

How do I fix my pH balance?

If you want to know how to make the body less acidic, always start with your diet. For the majority of Americans who eat acidic diets, the question is really, “How do I increase alkalinity in my body?” Many health professionals, including Dr. Mark Hyman, recommend following a diet that’s rich in alkaline foods for ultimate health and wellness. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to build your meals around alkaline foods like vegetables and fruits.

The ultimate goal is balance. It’s unrealistic to get rid of acidic foods altogether. Ideally, aim for 75% of your diet to be composed of alkaline foods and 25% of your diet to be acidic. You can boost the nutritional quality of your diet even further by including healing foods like maca root and elderberry. If you eat acidic foods, avoid refined carbohydrates (pasta, crackers, breads), dairy products (milk, cheese) and animal proteins (meat, chicken).

There are other answers to “How do I fix the pH balance in my body?” Regular exercise, drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep can help promote the body’s natural abilities to expel waste and balance pH. Keeping regular meal times can help regulate blood sugar, and therefore pH. And reducing your stress levels has many positive benefits, including lowering your acidity.

A properly alkalized body may not only restore your health, it may also restore your entire sense of well-being. It’s true that acidic foods can be tempting, but think of the disservice you’re doing your body by loading it up with junk. Taking the time to nurture your body with alkaline foods is one of the best ways to practice self-care. In today’s world, we often forsake our health for convenience, and in turn, we suffer. But the wonderful thing is that all of that can change in an instant. It is up to you to choose between alkaline vs. acidic foods and to give positive change the green light.

Header image © Shawn-Hempel/shutterstock

Team Tony

Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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