What is acid-alkaline balance?
Foods are basically classified as acid or alkaline with a few that fall under the neutral category. This doesn't mean how acid or alkaline the food itself is. Instead, foods are categorized by determining the type of residue that remains after that particular food has been metabolized by the body. A human's normal pH is a little over 7.0 [7.41 if you are into exacts] and a good pH reading ranges from 6.5 - 7.5. However, due to our high acid forming American diet, many people have a dangerously high acidity level and don't even realize it! Even people that tend to have a healthier lifestyle could be imbalanced. Foods can greatly affect this balance for the better or for the worse. If the body is to acidic, it tries elimination through the colon, kidneys, skin, sinuses and mucus membranes. This is why an acidic body can lead to the symptoms I mentioned above.
So, what do you do?
First, take a pH test [through urine analysis]. It is so simple and can be done at home. Purchase some pH papers [many drug and grocery stores sell them] but make sure that the test range is at least 5.5 to 8.5. Add some [ahem] pee and compare the color on the strip to the chart provided with the pH papers. If you are 6.0 and under you are acidic and are probably feeling worn out. 6.5 - 7.5 is neutral, otherwise known as the healthy repair / restore zone, while 8.0 and up is overly alkaline [if this is the case on a regular basis or you are constantly getting a reading between 7.5 and 8.0, talk to your doctor as your body may be in a state of tissue breakdown]. The most accurate depiction of your body's balance is most likely the first pH test you do upon waking up in the morning. Work to get this reading in the healthy zone. However, the first couple of days, do a test at various times throughout the day [3 - 5 tests]. This may give you a good picture of how different foods affect the body.
If you are a walking acidic environment, you can change your diet and thus your pH with a little effort and diligence.
Foods that are alkaline and will help lower acidity are:
all vegetables, most fruits, millet, buckwheat, sprouted beans, sprouted seeds, olive oil and water-soaked almonds
Balanced foods include:
brown rice, corn, soybeans, lima beans, almonds, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, honey, most dried beans and peas, tofu, nonfat milk, and vegetable oils
Foods that are acidic and will increase acidity are:
wheat, oats, white rice, pomegranates, strawberries, cranberries, breads, refined flour, refined sugar, cashews, pecans, peanuts, butter, milk, cheeses, eggs, meats, fish and poultry
And of course, water is the ultimate healer so be sure to be very diligent about getting at least 8 8 ounce glasses [10 would be even better] of pure water each day.
Haas, Elson M. Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts, 2006.
Lipski, Elizabeth. Digestive Wellnees. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2005.
All of this leads me to stir-fry, a fantastically tasty and easy way to get a whole lot of vegetables into your body.
large hand full each of kale, bok choy, broccoli, asparagus, carrots, and onions [substitute any vegetables you like], chopped
3 - 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 - 2" piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1/4 c. of olive oil
2 - 4 tbsp. of tamari or to taste [make sure it is a wheat-free, gluten-free brand]
Pour oil into skillet or wok and heat on medium until warmed. Carefully add garlic, ginger, onions, and carrots. Saute until onions are just beginning to become transparent. Add the remaining vegetables and tamari sauce. Cook on medium for 2 - 3 minutes or until all of the veggies are bright with color [green in this case] and just beginning to soften. Remove from heat and serve over cooked millet.