Do you remember that last week we revisited high school chem class and learned about acidic and alkaline blood? If you don’t remember what that’s about, you can go back and re-read that article here.
To recap: your blood MUST have a slightly alkaline pH in order to be balanced, and if it’s off, other body systems will sacrifice themselves – by donating essential nutrients – in order to get back to the balanced level of around 7.4.
If your blood pH is too acidic, it means you are suffering from acidosis, which has many side effects.
For example, many people tell me they have trouble sleeping.
Waking up frequently to go to the bathroom, being unable to fall back to sleep at 3 am because of a “racing mind”, yet still feeling tired by the time you drag yourself out of bed at 6:30 or 7 am…
These are signs your body is overly acidic, and is working hard to eliminate the acid (peeing, perspiring, poo-ing, breathing, and even retaining fat as a buffer for your organs).
The secret is to make sure you give your body enough of the right nutrients. A lack of nutrients – like magnesium and potassium – will affect how you sleep, and even whether or not you gain weight.
If you find you are low on energy during the day, and struggle to stay enthusiastic about your activities, it’s likely due to the drain on your cells and body systems when you have an acidic pH.
Your body has to work overtime to alkalize your blood if you don’t give it the nutrients it needs. Your lungs, kidneys, and adrenal glands are like little hamsters on a wheel, constantly churning to make sure your body stays in balance, leaving little attention for other body systems.
This often results in too many free radicals, too much inflammation, poor digestion, anemia, and more, which leaves you feeling lackluster in your activities.
Poor sleep and low energy are problems you can solve right now. What about when you get older, and possibly become stooped over due to low bone mass?
This is because the bones are one of your body’s primary pH balancing mechanisms.
Bones release calcium and magnesium, and muscles are broken down to produce ammonia (which is alkaline), in order to re-establish the slight alkalinity necessary for healthy blood pH.
If acidity in the blood isn’t addressed, it leads to long-term breakdown of bones and muscles.
You need to take care of your bones today, if you want to be able to move freely and without fear of falling and breaking bones later in life.
So, how do your food choices affect whether or not you have acidosis? What you eat influences how much your body has to compensate for the acid you may ingest.
If you would like to have more energy, increased concentration, and clearer skin, as well as an ability to lose fat (and weight) more easily, the answer is to avoid acidosis by adopting an alkaline diet.
But what is an alkaline diet?
It is not another fad diet.
In fact it isn’t a “diet” in any sense of how we normally use the word. It’s simply a way of eating that supports health.
Don’t think you can’t eat any acid-forming foods; it’s all about the balance!
Think, instead of eating an 80/20 diet. In other words, aim for 75%-80% alkaline-forming foods and 20%-25% acid-forming foods. As you’ll see, what this really works out to is eating more veggies and fruits, and a lot less starch and processed foods. 🙂
The primary alkalizing minerals are calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. Alkaline potassium comes especially from fresh fruits and vegetables, especially coconut water, dates, raisins and spinach.
Foods with added salt, including processed foods in jars, bottles, cans, and boxes, and especially fast food, are rich in chloride, phosphate and sulfate, which means they are acid-forming.
The most common acid-producing foods include:
- Dairy products (cheese, butter, milk, ice cream, yogurt, margarine, cottage cheese, cream cheese)
- Eggs (especially yolks)
- Wild game
- Coldwater fish
- Grains, especially processed grains like white bread, white rice, pasta, biscuits, bagels, doughnuts, pastries, crackers
- Oils (olive, sesame, safflower, sunflower, corn, canola)
- Soft drinks
- Soy and whey protein
Wow! So what is alkaline-producing?
In general, the vast majority of vegetables and fruits are alkaline-producing.
These are some favorite alkaline-producing foods:
In short, when you eat a lot of animal protein, dairy foods, and refined grains, and don’t balance it with a significant amount of vegetables and some fruit, you are probably eating an acid-forming diet.
Now that you know the difference, you can avoid the typical Western diet trap of eating too little potassium and magnesium, and too much sodium and chloride.
If you’ve been eating an acidic diet, now you know this can result in low-grade chronic acidosis, complete with low-level side effects, and the possibility of long-term bone and muscle problems.
Here is how you can live a life of improved alkalinity, and improved health:
- Check your pH regularly, so you can make good food choices
- Remove processed acidic foods from your diet
- Balance natural acidic foods with a healthy portion of alkaline foods – vegetables and fruits
- Replace a traditional lunch with a large green garden salad
- Use lettuce leaves to wrap sandwiches instead of bread
- Eliminate soda, sugars, and coffee (yes! I know that’s a tough one. At least reduce your consumption). Replace those drinks with herbal tea, herbal coffee and green drinks
- Add green juices or smoothies to your diet
- Stop smoking
- Get up and move around; don’t just sit at your desk all day!
- Reduce stress where you can (get professional help, if necessary). Think positively, connect with family and friends, or engage with friendly pets! Anything you can do that makes you feel good increases oxytocin – the “bonding” or “love” hormone – which balances out cortisol (the stress hormone).
- Drink plenty of water, especially water with natural fruit infusions
When I first found out about acidosis and its effects, and what I could do to help my body balance blood pH more easily, I was really amazed by the whole process.
If this is something you’d like to speak about with me – especially if you have problems sleeping soundly all night, or any of the other symptoms we’ve talked about – please contact me. I love talking about being healthy and fit and making this stuff as interesting and simple as possible.
About the Author:
Michael Houle is the Owner MUVEMENT a functional fitness and wellness Center located in Manchester, CT. Michael is a (FDN-P) Functional Diagnostic Nutrition practitioner as well as (CSCS) Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist.