Updated: Sep 29, 2020
Our bodies are designed to function optimally at a pH of just above 7.0. The body is very sensitive to pH changes. As a result just a slight change in blood pH of 7.25 (slightly alkaline) to below 7 (acidic) can disrupt body function and in particular, the blood’s ability to carry oxygen around the body. This acid condition results in a lowering of the body’s vital alkaline reserves. When our pH is kept at around 7.0 it indicates that we have enough buffering minerals to balance the acids in our body, from metabolic and dietary factors. If the body becomes too acidic (due to poor diet, lifestyle, and stress) disease and fatigue can result. When the blood is acidic, our cells can become sluggish and cannot function properly. This leads to build up of wastes, toxins are not excreted properly, and nutrients are not properly used. Over time this can lead to diseases such as diabetes, and cancer. To maintain the pH balance in our blood, potassium is taken from the extracellular fluid. If stores of potassium are low calcium, magnesium and other alkalising minerals are pulled from our bones, increasing the risk of developing osteoporosis and arthritis. An acidic body is also associated with an increased risk of developing diseases such as heart disease, kidney problems and may affect the functioning of the immune system.
How does food affect ph?
The protein content of food mostly determines whether it is acid or alkaline forming – foods such as animal products containing large amounts of sulphur, chlorine, phosphorous and nitrogen tend to be acid-forming whereas, vegetables & fruits have the least protein content therefore are most alkalising. Vegetables also high in minerals such as magnesium and potassium which are needed to maintain the pH of body. Nuts (except peanuts), seeds, and most pulses are also alkaline foods. Some foods are considered to be ‘neutral’ (such as butter, sugar). Neutral foods do not create excess acid but neither do they actively reduce it. Therefore the type of food you eat and your intake of the alkaline salts affects pH balance.
To maintain the correct, slightly alkaline pH, and for good general health, roughly 80% of our diet should come from alkaline forming foods, and 20% from acid forming foods.
Key symptoms of over-acid in the body include:
*Pain in joints and/or muscles *Strong smelling urine *Gout *Neuralgia *Low blood sugar *White coated tongue *Dental problems *Eczema *Sugar cravings *Burning urine and/or stools *Strong odour to perspiration *Slow recovery after exercise *Dandruff *Vaginal infections *Kidney problems *Low immunity *Skin rashes in groin/under arms/under breasts *Dry, flaky, itchy skin *Fungal skin infections *Diseases such as stroke, diabetes, tumours, osteoporosis, arthritis
Causes of acidity
*Diet high in meat and dairy *Diet high in refined foods *Low fruit and vegetable intake *Low water intake *Lack of calcium *Poor elimination of toxins (e.g. as a result of constipation or sluggish liver function) *Stress *Smoking *Metabolic problems
If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms or want to support your body here are some suggestions to incorporate alkaline foods into your diet:
· Ensuring a good supply of minerals and alkalising compounds such as potassium, magnesium and calcium helps to alkalise the body. A daily fresh vegetable juice is a fabulous way to give your body alkaline minerals in an easy to digest form. See my Instagram page for many juice recipes.
· Have vegetables with every meal and snack. For example a smoothie for breakfast (again recipes on my Instagram page), side salad with lunch if you have a sandwich or wrap, vegetable crudities as a snack with some hummus, vegetable stir fry in the evening with your choice of protein. I like to roast a big batch of vegetables and then have them over the next few days by adding to salads or grains, as a snack with hummus or nuts, or adding to a sandwich.
· Chewing food properly may help as saliva is alkaline and minerals are released by chewing.
· Although a vinegar, Apple cider vinegar is a great reducer of acidity. As it is a concentrate of apples it has a strong alkalising effect on the body. Take 10mls in little warm water 30 minutes before food to reduce acidity (see Tonic recipe below)
· Aim to reduce your intake of meat, fish, cheese and eggs by trying one day a week (or one meal a week) eating plant based (vegan) foods.
· Much of the acid produced in body is carbonic acid. This is converted to carbon dioxide and water, with the carbon dioxide eliminated via the breath and the water via urine. Evidence suggests that deep breathing, such as that done during meditation or relaxation exercises, also helps to alkalise the body. Yogic breathing practices called Pranayama are very helpful for this (and to de-stress).
·Find time to relax and de-stress e.g. deep breathing, relaxation music or guided relaxation CD, meditation, stretching, walking. If chronic stress/anxiety is a problem for you it might be beneficial to seek some professional help such as life-coaching or healing, or see your GP.
·Keep alcohol intake low
With the run up to Christmas and the party season now upon us, ensuring extra fresh fruit and vegetables to help offset the acid-forming effects of alcohol and rich/animal foods, is a must! You could also drink the tonic below every morning, and 2 to 3 times a day when you know you are going to be eating acid-forming foods and drinking alcohol.
Alkalising Morning Tonic
This tonic is a wonderful way to start the day. As well as being alkaline, it also supports the immune system, stimulates digestion and the liver, and is anti-inflammatory. Many studies suggest that cinnamon also helps to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Juice of half a lemon or 1 tbsp of raw apple cider vinegar
1 tsp of grated ginger
¼ tsp of ground turmeric
Pinch or small grind of black pepper (studies show that black pepper helps to increase the bio-availability of the many health promoting compounds in turmeric)
½ tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
Place all the ingredients in a mug and top up with hot water. Stir to combine and drink first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
Lindsey Elliott has over ten years’ experience practicing holistic therapies including Ignite Your Spirit (IYS) Therapy (energy healing), Life Coaching, Nutritional Therapy (DipION), the Nia Technique, and Reiki (to Master level). You can find out more about Lindsey at www.healeatmove.co.uk/about.