You may have heard of the alkaline diet but being healthy goes beyond any diet and focuses on lifestyle and hence, the alkaline lifestyle.
Why alkaline? The core concept behind the alkaline lifestyle is based upon the body’s requirement to maintain the pH of your blood at a pH of 7.365. It is NOT an attempt to change the blood’s pH and that’s a common misconception as one cannot change the blood’s pH.
Our body and its buffer system are designed to deal with a level of acidity resulting from the body functioning (e.g. metabolism, digestion, processing waste etc.). When we consume foods and drinks that are alkaline forming, we provide the body with the nutrients and tools needed to maintain that pH without adding any extra load on the buffering system. But when we consume food and drinks that are acid forming, we overload and exhaust our buffering system leading to self-preservation by leaching alkaline minerals, retaining water, etc. in order to neutralize the acids and to retain the pH at 7.365. An acidic state causes lack of oxygenation at the cellular level. Lack of proper oxygenation makes the environment favorable for the growth of bacteria, yeast, fungus, mold, viruses, and any other unwanted organisms. Disease lives in an over-acidic body.
The aim of the alkaline diet and lifestyle is to maintain a balanced alkaline lifestyle through food & drinks, emotional wellbeing, exercise and sleep.
Food & Drinks:
Alkaline food & drinks are foods that are closest to their natural state or what we call ‘living food’ i.e. minimally processed and hence are rich in nutrients (e.g. plant based food). The seven most alkaline foods are: Spinach, kale, cucumber, broccoli, avocado, celery, and bell Pepper.
Acidic food and drinks are foods that are highly processed or what we call ‘dead’ food and hence have minimal or no nutritious value (e.g. meat, sugar, junk food etc). The seven most acidic foods are soda, dairy, Sugar, trans fats (hydrogenated oils), monosodium glutamate (MSG), yeast and artificial sweeteners. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyle resulted in a diet that is mostly consistent with acidic food as we tend to consume on-the-go and fast meals that are highly processed and contain preservatives.
To maintain a healthy balance without overloading our buffering system, we need to aim towards consuming 70/30 or 80/20 ratio between alkaline and acidic food i.e. 70% -80% alkaline and 30%-20% acidic. For example, we should aim to have every meal or every plate to consist of 70% alkaline forming food and 30% acidic food.
Water is also fundamental for a healthy lifestyle. Our body is 70% water so it’s important to keep it hydrated by consuming 2-4 liters a day of mineral or alkaline water. You can add lemon to your water to increase its pH. Tea, coffee, herbal tea, juices do not count as a replacement for water.
Not only do foods make your body alkaline or acidic, emotions such as anger, hate, anxiety, stress, sadness, despair, and loneliness also change your body chemistry to acidic. Happy emotions, such as love and joy make your body pH alkaline.
When we regularly have strong negative emotions, feelings, thoughts or beliefs towards a situation, a person, or ourselves or high levels of stress, this produces biochemical reactions in our bodies, which acidify our blood and tissues and thus affect our immune system and make us more prone for disease. So to have a more alkaline system, we need to have a balanced emotional wellbeing, have peace of mind mentally, spiritually and physically.
One can address negative emotions, thoughts, beliefs and regular stress levels through relaxation, meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, spending time in nature, reading, listening to music, etc.
Similarly to food, exercise can be alkaline or acidic. Aerobic exercise is low intensity which promotes alkalinity as that type of workout increases the oxygen to the heart, lungs, muscles, blood and cells most effectively, and helps with detoxification. Aerobic exercise includes activities such as yoga, tai chi, swimming, rebounder (trampoline), walking and Pilates.
Anaerobic means ‘without oxygen’. This type of exercise is high intensity and can be acidic over long periods, as your body uses glucose stored in your muscles for energy as opposed to incoming oxygen. Anaerobic exercise includes training for a marathon that causes muscle exhaustion, spinning, heavy weight training.
As we all know, sleep is an important biological function that is the primary foundation for overall health. Sleep helps the body to recover and repair, support brain development, cardiac function and body metabolism, as well as support learning, improving memory and mood. Lack of sleep, regular insufficient or poor sleep contribute to long-term health problems. Sleep also affects the body's pH balance so it’s vital to get enough quality sleep each day for good health and wellbeing.
Health is all about balance, a balanced lifestyle. The body is the best doctor and has the ability to heal itself provided with the right balance. What we eat, think, feel and do on a daily basis can affect our health in the long term, so it’s key to maintaining a balanced alkaline lifestyle.