by Christine Taylor
As a holistic health coach and cancer survivor, I recommend a simple and powerful tool everyone can use to improve their overall health: alkaline-producing foods.
The foods that we eat have the ability to both fight and cause illness. When a diet is too acidic, the body can easily become overwhelmed because it must use its own mineral reserves to neutralize this acidity, causing an imbalance that enables illness. Everything from a runny nose, acne, heartburn and chronic fatigue to a weakened immune system, osteoporosis and even cancer can be connected to an acidic environment in the body.
The pH scale ranges from 0-14 — anything under seven is acidic, anything above is alkaline. We want to keep our bodies neutral to slightly more alkaline (just over 7) in order to create an environment that promotes strong bones, inhibits cancer, and optimizes our immune system — to name just a few benefits.
We do this by incorporating more alkaline-producing foods into our diet to outweigh the foods that cause acidity. For example, organic veggies (especially dark, leafy greens that supercharge the blood with oxygen), fresh fruits and sprouts are amazing pH boosters. Raw produce is the most alkalizing, while processed, packaged and factory-made foods, like junk food, fast food, soda, etc., contribute the most to acidity in the body.
Changing your diet to be more alkaline can happen gradually. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Squeeze half a lemon into a glass of water and drink it first thing in the morning. If you can’t forgo your morning caffeine, that’s okay. Just have some lemon water before your coffee or tea.
- Cook for yourself! Restaurant food is almost always acid-producing.
- Choose organic produce whenever possible.
- Have a salad before dinner every night with a squeeze of lemon in addition to a little of your favorite dressing. This is also good for keeping your calories in check, and for boosting your fiber intake.
- Make meat a side dish, devoting most of your plate to veggies, legumes and whole grains.
- Flavor your water naturally and drink plenty of it! One of my favorite ways to do this is to fill a pitcher with filtered water and throw in a few cucumber slices. There’s nothing quite as sweet and refreshing as cucumber water. I promise you will love it!
- You can find ground-up seaweed such as kelp and dulse in most health food stores. It comes in a container similar to a salt shaker. Sprinkle on salads or soups or anywhere you would use salt. The flavor is mild and quite nice.
If you want to know if you’re acidic, you can easily find out. Urine is the most reliable body fluid (you can also use saliva) and can easily be tested with litmus paper strips. I got mine in the supplement aisle at a health food store. The color of the paper will change depending if you are acidic or alkaline — if it’s more yellow, you are acidic, green is neutral and the deeper blue — the more alkaline you are.
I try to teach people that it’s not about giving up the things you love. It’s about adding in more of the good stuff. The more balancing foods you add into your diet, the less cravings you have for junk, because your body is getting what it needs. Then, when you notice how great you feel, you’re motivated to continue on this path.
Christine Taylor is a holistic health counselor and health educator. She lives in Hampton Bays, New York.