A new year means it’s time for a fresh start. Every year thousands of Canadians use January as a time to change their diet, improve their health and try to feel better. The key is to make a change that’s manageable and sustainable. Well, the alkaline diet is both.
More than just a diet
Alkaline diets have become a big trend. A growing number of celebrities (Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow) are talking about them. But why?
Think back for a moment to high school chemistry. Remember the pH scale? It provides a measure between 0 (most acidic) and +14 (most alkaline). Your body’s optimal pH is 7.36, which is slightly alkaline. The alkaline diet is based on making food choices that help your body reach and maintain a balanced pH level so your body can function at its best. The problem is many of the foods we love are very acidic. Over time, too many acidic foods strain the body’s normal function, leaving you tired with a lowered immune function.
Choosing an alkaline lifestyle can be done quite easily. As a rule of thumb, choosing 70 percent alkaline foods (veggies and legumes) and 30 percent acidic foods (meat and carbs) is the way to go, but any little change makes a difference. Here are some key steps to living an alkaline lifestyle:
1. Eat green
Fresh fruit, vegetables, roots, nuts and legumes are alkalizing to the body, so increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat. Aim to have some at every meal and make vegetables the focus rather than meat or grains. Reach for dark or green vegetables such as beetroot, avocado, broccoli, spinach, kale, peas, beans and cucumber.
2. Reduce acidic foods
You don’t have to cut them out altogether but try and limit your intake of meats, eggs, refined sugars, white flour and dairy.
3. Limit alcohol consumption
Most alcoholic beverages have a high sugar content and are highly acidic. You don’t have to cut it out altogether if you enjoy the occasional beer or glass of wine, but be aware of what you are drinking. (Click here for more on the benefits of cutting back on alcohol.)
4. Drink alkaline water
Drinking water is vital to our health and most of us don’t drink enough to begin with. Hydrate yourself with eight to 10 large glasses of alkaline water per day.
Most tap water has a pH of 6.5 to 7, while alkaline water has a pH of 9, making it better at rebalancing the acid-alkaline levels in your body. Alkaline water molecules are also smaller than those of tap water. This means they permeate your body more thoroughly and leave you more hydrated than regular water.
5. Choose natural energy-boost drinks
Forget sugar- and caffeine-laden energy drinks. Choose natural, alkalizing energy drinks such as peppermint tea, yerba maté tea, lemon water or a green powder supplement that can cleanse the digestive system, stimulate your metabolism and buffer excess acids. (Click here for a great alkalizing smoothie recipe.)
6. Break a sweat
Exercise for at least 30 minutes three to five times a week. Among its many benefits, exercise helps counteract acidity in our bodies and sweat gives acid another pathway out of the body. Plus, it helps to oxygenate and alkalize your blood.
7. Seek balance
Stress contributes to acid build-up so find ways to de-stress. Meditation, yoga, deep breathing and long walks are all great ways to de-stress and reduce acid levels.
Disease prevention and other benefits
Several years ago, my husband, David, was diagnosed with severe acid reflux, and his doctor wanted to put him on prescription drugs that he would have to take for the rest of his life. I thought there must be another more natural solution. My reading and research lead me to study the acid-alkaline balance in our diets, and to change our family’s eating habits to an alkaline diet and drinking lots of alkaline water. By adopting the alkaline lifestyle, David’s health improved and his need for prescription drugs ended.
In addition to helping you losing weight, the alkaline diet is also able to give you more energy, lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, kidney problems and other chronic diseases, reduce joint pain and lactic-acid build up (leg cramps), give you clearer skin and improve your bone health.
Take it slow
If you decide to go alkaline, start by making incremental changes to your diet. You’re most likely to succeed if you take on change gradually. Every little change is one more step toward better long term health.
Let us know what your first change will be in the comment section below. To find out whether you’re too acidic and how to balance your pH click here.
Yvonne Anderson is Vancouver’s alkaline specialist and the CEO of Santevia, a company she co-founded out of her passion for promoting an alkaline lifestyle.
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