In the world of wellness, health and balance are like two best friends; a fabulous and inseparable duo. At a biochemical level in the human body, maintaining the balance of alkalinity and acidity in our fluids and tissues is vitally important for overall health. The good news is that nutrition and lifestyle choices are the key factors that impact upon how alkaline or acidic your body is at any given time, meaning you have the power to tip the scale in the favourable direction. Hint: your body loves to be alkaline!
The Acid Alkaline Principle
So what exactly is the acid-alkaline principle? Let’s get scientific. To measure the balance between alkalinity and acidity the pH level is used. The pH refers to the ‘potential of hydrogen,’ and measures the amount of hydrogen ions in a particular solution. The higher the ion concentration, the greater the acidity, the lower the ion concentration, the more alkaline it is. pH is measured on the scale of 0 – 14, with 7 being neutral, 14 being extremely alkaline, and 0 being most acidic. When alkalinity increases, so too does oxygen. Since oxygen is vital to human life and healthy cells thrive in an aerobic environment, it makes sense that we ideally want to maintain a slightly alkaline pH level in our bodies. For optimum health, the blood pH should fall on or very close to the magic number of 7.365 on the scale.
Factors Increasing Acidity
Now that we’ve got the basic chemistry under our belt, let’s take a look at the bad guys. It’s time to know your enemies and stop them robbing your precious body of a happy alkaline existence. Unfortunately the contemporary lifestyle is host to a plethora of stressors that leave one living in a less than ideal acidic state. At the forefront are poor nutritional choices. The over consumption of “food like substances,” to borrow the term from Michael Pollan, which are highly processed, sugar filled, artificially laden, and flooded with saturated and trans fats, greatly increase the acidity in the human body. Stress, overworking, poor sleep, a lack of exercise and technological radiation are other common factors contributing to an acidic pH.
Why We Want Alkaline
If you’re not feeling your best and suspect you may be too acidic, it’s time to join the alkaline tribe and reap the benefits that leading an alkaline life can bring both your body and mind. A huge burden will be taken off your liver, allowing toxins to be processed and eliminated effectively so that your organs and cells can function at peak performance. This means better digestive processes, increased energy, slower aging, beautiful skin and a peaceful mood, among other benefits. Being alkaline also greatly reduces your chances of illness, as many diseases, such as cancer, are anaerobic (read: flourish in an oxygen depleted environment). So let’s flood our bodies with oxygen and alkalise, baby, alkalise!
Eat Your Way There
The first place you want to start is with your diet by adopting a way of eating that follows the balance of the acid-alkaline principle. Most of the foods that are highly acidic are the ones we know we should limit or avoid, such as processed foods, refined sugar, sodas, artificial sweeteners, red meat and dairy products. On the flip side, alkaline forming foods are the healthy ones, with greens, sprouts, non-starchy vegetables and ripe fruits topping the list. A good ratio to aim for is to 70-80% of your diet coming from alkaline foods, with the remaining 20-30% made up of acid forming foods. However, it’s favourable that the acidic portion of your diet be consumed in the form of healthy acid foods, some of which are brown rice, salmon, and certain nuts. You can find many resources on the internet that provide acid-alkaline food charts to help you better understand how the food choices you make will affect your pH, and then chow down accordingly.
Other lifestyle factors you can bring on board for your alkaline journey are practising relaxation techniques (such as meditation, yoga and deep breathing), daily exercise, drinking lots of good quality water, getting enough sunlight, and enjoying plenty of time spent with the people we love.