Acid vs. Alkaline
You may have heard about the acid/alkaline relationship to diet and our bodies, but what does it mean?
First, we need to talk about pH. Our bodies, just like plants, water, soil, etc., have a certain pH that is most optimal. Our bodies optimal pH is 7.35 which is slightly alkaline. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acidic, 14 being the most alkaline and 7 being neutral.
The substances we put in our mouth determine the pH of our body. So what you consume on a daily basis will change the pH of your cells, your blood, your urine and your saliva. Most people have an acidic pH due to eating a Standard American Diet (S.A.D.). This is mainly due to the high consumption of acidic ingredients like alcohol, soda, coffee, sugar, meat, fish, dairy, breads and grains. On a side note, foods we may assume to be acidic such as lemons are actually alkalizing to our body.
Emotions can also affect our bodies pH. Negative emotions such as anger, jealousy, hate, loneliness and fear will make the body more acidic, while positive emotions such as love, joy and acceptance will make your body more alkaline.
So, why is it important to maintain an alkaline system? An acidic system creates inflammation within our bodies. This inflammation will appear as different symptoms for different people. Symptoms may include bloating, constipation, leaky gut, acid reflux, indigestion, asthma, colds, arthritis, gout, headaches, fatigue, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer and obesity.
Disease cannot exist, let alone thrive in an alkaline body! Cancer cells cannot live in an alkaline system. Most parasites, yeasts, fungi and bacteria cannot live in an alkaline system either. Therefore it is vital for us to be aware of our bodies pH level and what we eat if we want to live a healthy life free of dis-ease and pain. An alkaline diet will not only allow your body to thrive at it’s optimal level but will also improve bone density, increase libido and help to shed excess fat.
How to increase the alkalinity of your body
1. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Most fruits and vegetables are alkaline in nature. Try to eat 70% of your diet in alkaline foods every day.
2. Limit meat, dairy and grains. All meats, dairy and bread/grains are acidic. Limit your intake to small portions. If you are having grains/bread try to opt for sprouted grains.
3. Limit your intake of sugar and soda. All sugar, sugar replacements and natural sweeteners such as honey, agave, etc. are acidic. The exception to this is Stevia which is alkaline to the body.
4. Limit your intake of alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. These three items are incredibly acidic to your body.
5. Limit your use of condiments. Mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, etc. are highly acidic.
6. Increase your intake of water. Pure water is neutral on the pH scale and will help to flush the acid out of your system. Remember, the more acidic items you ingest, to more water you will need to remain alkaline.
How to test your pH
The easiest way to see where you are at on the acid/alkaline scale is to get a pack of pH test strips (litmus paper) from your local pharmacy, health food store or online and test yourself at home. These strips are relatively inexpensive and easy to use.
The pH test strips can be used with your saliva and/or urine.
For urine testing: First thing in the morning pee on the test strip (or pee in a cup and dip the strip into it) and wait until the strip turns color and match it to the pH guide that comes with the strips. Your first morning urine will be the most acidic and you want it to be in the 6.5-7.5 range. I would recommend for one week to test every time you pee. When your body is in an alkaline it will range from 7.3-8.0. If your pH is lower than 6.5 you really should focus on adding in more alkaline food and omitting acidic foods.
For saliva testing: (The least favorable of the two tests). When you test your saliva you want to wait at least two hours after eating, drinking or brushing your teeth. You want to gather a bunch of spit in your mouth, swallow and then gather a bunch of spit again and insert the pH strip into your mouth. Wait until the strip turns color and match it to the pH guide. Your saliva will usually read higher than your urine pH and you want it to be in the 7.0-7.5 range.
It is not necessary to monitor your pH every day after you do a week long testing series. However, I would recommend once a month taking your pH so that you can monitor your progress.
Here is a good link to see which foods are acidic and which are alkaline: http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/11652/file-2473715827-jpg/images/ph_levels-resized-600.jpg
Here is a good link to a pH monitoring worksheet from Dr. Susan E. Brown: http://www.betterbones.com/alkalinebalance/phRecordSheet.pdf